Character Collecting for Stories Part II: In my last post I talked about Character Collecting. Well, after re-reading my post, I tried to read it from a reader's point of view and thought someone might think, "That's all well and good, but how exactly do you collect characters for stories?"
Good question! Here are my steps in "collecting characters" for Character Creation later on:
Tools. First of all, always keep a notebook with you. I keep a notebook and a camera with me at all times, you never know when inspiration will hit. Then, be sure to transfer it somewhere safe and easily accessible such as your computer or in a filing cabinet, etc., whatever you prefer for record keeping.
Be observant. One of the most important things we can do as writers/artists/creative beings, is to be observant, but in this day and age, with all the technology we have at our fingertips, we tend to stay in our little bubbles, even when we're out and about. Let's break that down even more...
Pay attention to what's going on in the world, rather than just in that little bubble of yours. So many times we are so caught up in our own little world, worrying about bills, school, kids, work, etc., that we miss little interesting things going on around us. So, take the blinders off for a moment, put down the smart phone/iPad/handheld device (scary, I know) and hold still, close your eyes. Take a deep breath, what do you smell? What do you feel? Is is chilly? Humid? Feel the ground beneath your feet, is it gravel, grass or pavement? What about sounds, what do you hear? Now, open your eyes and write down whatever stood out to you, what made you "feel" where you are.
People Watch. Now that you have a feel for your surroundings, look around at the people. Who catches your eye? Does anyone stand out? Once you find someone who peaks your interest, for whatever reason, write down a few things about them. What do they look like? Who are they with? What are they doing? It's important to get all the details, almost a sketch of the person, but in words. And if you can draw, even better, go ahead and sketch the person out.
What's the history? Now, make up some of their background. You obviously don't know them, but you can still make up something. Are they late for a meeting? Are they waiting for someone? Where did they come from and where are they going? Imagine what's going on inside their little world and jot down those details. Sometimes, when I look up at a plane flying overhead, I imagine a passenger on that flight and wonder about what exotic locale they are headed for. Maybe they're a spy or headed to a dense jungle, looking for.... Well, you get the idea.
What's in a name? Finally, give your character a name or at least, a description of some sort. Naming is one of the more difficult tasks, if you ask me, so you don't have to name them right now, if you don't want to. i usually like my character's names to have meaning. But whether you name them or not, give them a designation when saving their information. such as the header: "Girl running past fountain."
So, next time, when you need a story, or a character for a story, just pull out your collected characters and see if one of them can help you out by giving you a scenario or just simply by doing whatever it is that they were doing when you first noticed them. Then, just write whatever you see and let your muse free.