Writing good characters is hard, or so they say. Personally I find that looking at the world around you helps. People watching is a normal, even accepted, thing for writers, although something you should practice with care to avoid freaking someone out (or worse). Steal as much as you can from friends and strangers alike, just keep it to the ever so important traits that makes a character rememberable. And try to avoid carbon copies of real world people, that rarely ends well.

So where do you find these nuggets of story-driving little monsters? I prefer bars, preferably during Happy Hour. People show up at bars in so many different roles. They might be working buddies grabbing a cold one, prospective clients, tired parents looking for a respite, semi alcoholics (and sometimes authors), they might be there to celebrate or mourn or just wrap up a day full of things you never thought of. And that's the thing, people come to bars for so many reasons, other than the obvious of course. Coffee shops have some of the same but not to the same extent, hotel lobbies are interesting too. Find a place where people show up not to do just one thing, but to socialize or at least interact with the environment. That will give you a lot to look at, to steal for your characters, and to inspire you to create new personalities.

And why not enjoy a glass of something nice while you're at it?

Thord D. Hedengren is the resident author at BlankPage. His work has been featured in anthologies such as Haunted Futures and Cthulhu Lies Dreaming. Look for his next novel this autumn.

Originally published in a newsletter from Type & Tell, a service that helps you format and publish your own work.