Where do my characters come from?
1. I watch strangers. I see how people react and behave. I watch documentaries on TV and news to see how people react, especially in moments of crisis. I listen to how people speak.
2. I use my family and friends as starting points for characters and then change them. In other words, I make new, different people. I change aspects about them. I mentally ask my characters questions and think about how and what they would answer.
3. I draw characters from myself. I imagine how I would feel in a situation, or in a similar situation.
4. I choose names with care. Names are important. They can imply age, class, race, status, popularity - as with nicknames. Or unpopularity - as with unkind nicknames. My character might be named after someone - I need to know how do they feel about that. I need to know if how they feel has a bearing on my story.
5. I try to be consistent with whatever I've chosen for my characters. I make a note somewhere of their age, looks, job, main virtue, main vice, what they want, what they don’t want others to find out, and so on. I keep that note handy so that I can refer to it.
6. I try to show my characters in action in some way, so that they are not passive.