So, having not done anything outstandingly stupid for several days, other than attempting 30 minutes of Yoga from the Not Beginner DVD yesterday after not having done Any Yoga in a couple of years.
Let’s talk writing. Or more specifically characters. They are everywhere. Not just your family, which in my case is a gold mine without a ‘mined out’ possibility. But, as They say at every writers’ conference, discussion group, workshop: characters are all around you. All you need do is observe.
Sounds simple. The lady in the grocery store who sniffs, pinches, inspects with a mega-power flashlight every fruit and veggie she buys, then heads for the candy aisle and shovels the shelves clean of chocolate covered anything, will eventually figure out that you are stalking her. Taking notes while she gossips with friends, or rants at the manager will Not go unnoticed.
Unless your memory is something for the book of records. You need to record this stuff. Anyone you deal with has quirks, eccentricities, unusual ways of saying or doing things. Write it down. Subtlety. That’s what you need for the notebook of characters you observe everywhere and every-when you go. Fill it with what you’ve seen, smelled, heard. Some use little hand recorders to make ‘notes’. Or a cellphone. Or a notepad in the car, your purse, your pocket.
You’re not going to steal a person and put them in your books, only changing their name but keeping everything else down to hair color and weight of the living person. You’re going to meld together the most interesting characteristics into new Characters. The grocery store lady is no longer a housewife picking up groceries while the kids are in school. She becomes the very deliberate murderess, 40 pounds skinnier and 10 years older. The new character has a psychopathy for sugar, chocolate, and fruit, not a school project on chocolate percentages. Your character blends the fashion style of the librarian who you admire, with the physical characteristics of the head cheerleader you would gladly have pushed off the pyramid in high school. You are the creator of the story and of the people in the story. You’re simply taking notes from the Creator. Quietly.
Well, not so quietly when you generate that best selling story with those original characters. Go do it.