Have you ever looked at somebody and just wondered?
Wondered- do I know you from somewhere? Have we met another time and place? Who do you remind me of? Or even more probing questions… What in the world are you doing? Why would you say something like? What an odd reaction! What an exciting job or hobby?
If you’re a people watcher, these are things that often happen, and if you’re a writer, these are potential characters for your stories.
It’s a storyteller’s job to be observant of what’s going on around them, not only current news and happenings but the people who come in and out of our lives on a daily and infrequent basis.
Sometimes those people just skim the outer circles of our day-to-day life. It might be somebody you happen to see in a park or a store. Or perhaps a conversation that you hear, but are not part of. Maybe an interaction between two people that you observe and it makes you wonder.
The sidekicks and minor characters a writer creates for the story can, and should be, just as important as your main character. It would be ridiculous to have your main character have all the action revolve around them. Some vital information, clues or conversations can come from other people within the story. Yet you don’t want those other people or characters to be blah and uninteresting. These characters need to hold the reader’s attention as much as the main characters.
Because these side characters often don’t play an intricate part in your story, it is easy to use real-life people that you barely know or that you observe just in a casual setting as models. You can take the liberty with what you see and hear and create those side characters into funny, interesting, or evil characters, depending upon your storyline. Take care not to make them more interesting than your main character. Instead, you should be able to make them play off of your main character, making the main character have more depth and interest by how they interact with the people and events around them.
So start watching what goes on around you, regardless of where you’re at. You can hear some of the most interesting conversations standing in line in the grocery store. Waiting for your waitress at a restaurant? Watch how the occupants in the tables around you are reacting to each other. Is there a comradery or tension? Sitting in a park with your kids pay attention to how the other adults respond to children. Some will be loving and giving, possibly because they have children of their own. Others might be more annoyed and feel like the children are pesty, getting in their way of a quiet afternoon.
But don’t limit yourself to just people. Interactions between animals and people can create a release of tension in your story or an “awwwww” moment. These type of moments can easily be used to distract the reader from something in your storyline. A clue in your mystery that was glaring can be softened with the interaction of your main character in the dog. Suddenly that clue has lost its importance, at least for that moment until you’re ready to bring it back out to readers attention.
The build-up between characters for that first kiss can easily be dragged out by a kid brother or sister interrupting their moment.
These are just a few examples of how you can take online or event or character and use them in your story. Use them to give your main character more interest and more exciting things to do.
Can you think of something you’ve seen just this week that took you by surprise or caught your attention? Can you weave it into your story? Good, I’ve given you something to look for.
Now go write!