As an author, one aspect of writing is people watching. Where ever I go, I observe what people do, how they do it, what they say and how they say it. I can be at the mall, at a sporting event, even in church, and pick up tidbits that help shape my characters or story to some degree.
Creating characters in not easy. With each character, I must determine their inner struggles and how those struggles impact the story line. I go so far as using a character check list, not only to flesh out the inner conflict, but to detail physical attributes. Names sometimes pop into my head as I create a character, or the name comes to me and from there I draw the character sketch. Kind of a which came first scenario, the chicken or the egg? And depending on the type of book I may be writing, I search for names for their specific meaning to the story line.
Once I have the characters and story established, I gather nuances from life around me. For example, I plotted my August Heartwarming release, Orange Blossom Brides, while attending a bridal fashion show. As I wrote the book, I remembered the room decorations, what the models wore and the time of year. Little bits of this added creative touches to my story. Also, remembering the details gave my imagination a jumping off point. From there, anything is possible.
Inspiration comes to writers in a myriad of places. I once named a character after a cool name of a friends cat. I watched a Civil War reenactment and listened to the crowd to collect color commentary for a scene I later used in a book. Even when my writer friends and I meet for coffee, and ultimately start discussing our works in process, folks sitting nearby wonder if our characters are real live people. And please, don’t discuss how to commit a literary crime because that raises a few eyebrows.
I bring a notebook with me everywhere I go so I can jot down impressions or take notes. Just recently, I went for a helicopter ride. I had to take notes because, hey, I may have a character who travels in a helicopter. I go to NASCAR races. Always have a notebook with me. Whenever I go to a new city, I take a notebook. I always find something that will enrich my story.
There is a big world out there and so much of it can be used in conjunction with my imagination. That is the fun part of writing. Not only does life imitate art, but every day experiences create a treasure trove for writers. Even if you aren’t an author, who hasn’t sat on a park bench and watched the world around them? Observing human nature is very interesting indeed.
So, in closing, let me add a word of caution. Be careful what you say around me. I may use it in my novel.