"In the end you should probably know your characters as well as you know yourself. You should be able to close your eyes and dwell inside that character’s body." —Gabriel García Márquez
Creating characters out of thin air can be daunting for any writer which is why many writers tend to base their characters on people they have interacted with or observed or heavily researched or even on themselves.
When I'm creating characters, I always put a little of me in them, and then I bring in bits and pieces from people who are around me or who I observe. That way I feel like I know my characters intimately, but I have the freedom to develop them according to the needs of my story.
This is why I prefer writing fiction over nonfiction even though many of my stories begin with something that is real—a setting, a situation, a person.
When you're trying to figure out how to develop characters, start by observing who is around you.
What do the people around you look like? How do they dress? How do they hold themselves? What does their body language say about the way they feel?
Listen to how you and your family members speak to each other.
Observe your friends and how they talk and act.
Eavesdrop on conversations in coffee shops, in grocery stories. Listen to what people say and how they say it.
I speak differently with my best friend than I do with someone I meet at the bus stop.
All of these details go into creating character. And once you have an idea who you want to write about then you need shape your characters by giving them goals in your story and having them act according to their motivations.
Exercise: Make a list of 5 to 10 people who interest you such as your children, your siblings, your dentist, the bus driver, etc. Whose lives are you curious by? And why?
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