Friday, June 24, 2011

Character development while people watching

I've heard many writers say that inspiration strikes them at any moment. The tiniest thing might be ignored by most people but inspire a brilliant novel for a writer.

That slide looks sinister.

At the same time, writers can use inspiration from the world around them to develop an existing idea. For example, I take the train into work every morning from New Jersey to NYC New Jersey Transit is awful. Avoid travelling on it at all costs.  and at least three days a week I get in with no delays. Unfortunately, yesterday was one of the two mandatory days a week that NJ Transit decides to screw up, just to mess with the daily commuters.

I was stuck at one station with no way to get out for 45 minutes with a dead iPod and dying phone. Luckily I had a book with me, but I was almost done and I wanted to save it for the return trip. So I started to look around me and notice how my fellow passengers were reacting to this situation. There was the sleeping man, who I'm pretty sure never noticed we were stopped anyway. There was the girl on the phone with NJ Transit angrily demanding that they send a bus to transport us all at least to Newark. There was the couple who were chatting about their childrens' sports schedules and which one would be home in time to pick them up (Spoiler: they were on NJ Transit, so neither probably got home on time).

So I started thinking. What would the characters in my current WIP do? I had to dismiss the fact that my MC and a major character wouldn't be allowed on trains and several other characters wouldn't need them for transportation anyway, but I started going through them one by one and I learned a lot about my characters. I also had a blast with my imagination.

The result was a brand new scene and several characters that I had to rethink.  Both of which are going to add to my story and are helping me brush past a bit of writer's block in my editing. 

Have you ever imagined your characters in real situations, whether to pass the time or to help get through a tough spot in your story?

No comments:

Post a Comment