While waiting in line at the gas station to pay for my coffee, I got a terrific idea for a new character. My inspiration was a towering hulk of a man wearing a black t-shirt, jeans, motorcycle boots, and a silver bangle in one ear.
I never got a look at the guy’s whole face as I was standing behind him and could only see his profile. He must have been at least 6’6″ tall, so I had an excellent view of the inside of his nose whenever I looked up. That meant I spent most of my time staring at his belt, which held a chain with a fascinating wad of keys and plastic rewards cards. I suspect he doesn’t care about fashion or cleanliness, and yet he was attractive in a macho kind of way.
This potential character was buying lottery tickets, and the machine was so slow that we were there at least 5 minutes waiting for his transaction to process. He chatted with the cashier, and I took mental notes of everything he said. I was sorry when he left as I still needed to know a few things. Someday you’ll read about him, or someone very similar, in one of my stories.
In case you haven’t met any characters today, here are a few sites that might give you ideas for developing your own:
http://hollylisle.com/index.php/How-To-s/how-to-create-a-character.html Holly Lisle reveals how she creates characters.
http://kayedacus.com/2009/02/17/creating-credible-characters-refresher/ Kaye Dacus has a series of posts on characterization.
http://www.suite101.com/content/three-step-method-of-character-development-a160199 Suzanne Pitner gives tips on developing believable characters.
Where do you get inspiration for characters? How much background information do you need before a story idea develops around a character? Or, do you come up with the story first, then the characters? What is it that generally makes you notice a stranger and sparks your imagination or interest?