I’m not sure if some of the rest of you do this, but I LOVE to people watch. The Italians do it constantly, and I think they have it right. Now before you freak out on me and start screaming “STALKER!”, just let me explain.
Where I’m sat at the moment, I’m looking out of my study window to outside our cottage. Our cottage happens to sit along the route for the Cleveland Coast-to-Coast walk. It’s a beautiful walk that runs from the Irish Sea at St Bees to the North Sea at Robin Hood’s Bay, and is around 192 miles. It passes through three national parks and really is something that everyone should do at least once. Well, I get an awful lot of walkers coming past my window on this long walk, some of them from as far afield as Australia and America. All of them look very different, some of them wearing thick coats, others with an MP3 player plugged in their ears.
And when I’m running dry on what to write on the screen in front of me, I like to look out of the window and try to restart my brain once more. And when someone walks past in their little group, I like to make up a story for them, if they look interesting. I’ll give you an example, which will probably also give you a little insight into how my mind works. (You have been warned.)
A lady just went past on her own, apart from her group, carrying a heavy pack on her back, and wearing no coat, despite the weather being a little cooler today. She has wrap-around shades on, and looks as though she is concentrating very heavily on something. so, to build a story for her, I begin to ask some questions.
Why is she walking on her own? Perhaps she has fallen out with the group. Perhaps she thinks they are not taking the walk seriously. Yes, I think it’s that one, looking at how they are laughing and taking their time, but she looks like she is thinking of nothing else.
Why isn’t she wearing a coat? It could be as simple as she is too warm, but it really is cold today. Maybe it’s because she wants to feel the cold-yes, she is punishing herself in some way. Which leads to the question-
Why is she doing this walk? She doesn’t look as though she is enjoying it much. This is where I really use some artistic licence. From the way she looks, and is concentrating, she is heavily driven. Perhaps she has always been driven, and used to work in a high-flying job in an advertising agency or such. She had a wonderful grandmother who had brought her up since she was ten. The reason she is so driven is because her parents were very poor, and died when she was young. She never wanted to feel that way again, so her life became about money. Her grandmother was sad to see this. Her grandmother recently died, and her last words to her grand-daughter were, “Life is about more than money. You must experience life. You must do more with your life.” The lady spent several weeks crying in secret and grappling with this after her death, and eventually had a break-down at work, forcing her company to put her on extended leave. She made her mind up to follow what her grandmother asked of her, and made up a list of all the great things she could think of to do. So one of those things is to do this work, and her thoughts are constantly on her grandmother.
So now we have a story for this lady. We can give her a name…erm….Linda. And now she will at some point become a character in a book of mine. (Seriously, no-one pinch this, I will use it, and I’ll know where you got it from. Then I will hunt you down and beat you with…a KIPPER!)
And that is how I sometimes build my most interesting characters. So if you ever see me staring at you on the bus or at a coffee shop, don’t freak out, it’s only because you’re about to become that strange fey-like creature in my book that grows fangs. Nothing to worry about at all. 🙂
So how do you build your characters? Is it as weird(nosy) as this? Or do you have another method?
Also, slightly unrelated; You can read a little bit more about me and my weird writer-ish thoughts at L.Vera’s (@LVeraWrites on twitter), new blog, A Knife and A Quill, on his interview with me tomorrow, at around 11am CST. http://aknifeandaquill.wordpress.com/ So make sure you are there! 🙂
Also, in really unrelated, I can now do an ‘Kindlegraph’, for anyone who is interested. Simply go to this website here- http://www.kindlegraph.com/new and you can spot my book on the second or third line. Click on it and ask for my ‘Kindlegraph’, and I can give you a personal signed message to go along with your kindle copy of Conner.
Also, later on I think I might put up another extract from Conner, so everyone can have a little look-see. Also, I think I want to start doing author interviews and reviews on this blog, so please let me know if you want to take part, if you are an author! 🙂