People often ask me how I get my characters for my writing. I tell them, just look around, they are everywhere.
For instance, in Home Sweet Home, my WIP, I have an elderly lady with dementia. My mom and an aunt had this and I can relate to the things my mom did. She blew up the microwave by putting in a can of soup, and burned so much food in the oven that I was asked to find her somewhere else to live. Somehow she managed to break the handles off cups, put them back into the cupboard with the handles against them, and of course when you reached for a cup all you got was the handle. Although some of the things she did weren’t funny at the time, when I write them now, I can find the humor.
I retired from Seminole State College several years ago, but return during registration to do orientation and advising. I meet a lot of folks who would make good characters in my writing. Recently I had a student who would make a perfect spoiled brat. He demanded my attention, taking his finger and pounding it on the book, and informed me in high school they “did registered us.” I smiled sweetly and told him now that he's grown up, he gets to learn how to do these things for himself.
I had a fireman visit my office to see what classes he needed. Young, good looking, he had a nice personality. But he said his job wasn’t dangerous enough. I’d choose him to be a detective or PI, someone who enjoyed the thrill of the chase. Sort of like Castle on TV.
If I wanted someone to be caring, like for a doctor or nurse, there’s the young Hispanic man who told me how he worried about his grandparents. He was model handsome, which means he’d be a good doctor character for women to drool over.
The man from the mailroom was furious when the dean took his cart and gave it to me to use. He got to the point where he glared at me, and I asked the dean to return it. Older, short with spiked white hair, he would be a good character whom no one would suspect as the murderer of an advisor who stole his cart.
There’s always the sweet little old lady who no one would suspect of masterminding a gang of art thieves. Or the mechanic who smiles at you while ripping you off or disconnecting the brakes on a car for the money a woman or man paid him so they could be rid of their mate.
If you journal, start taking notes of people around you, their body movements, the twitch of the eyes, the way they move their hands or the way they smile. Is the smile real, fake, sarcastic, or evil. Also make use of the newspaper or TV for characters. In my WIP I needed a woman who would sell babies. Two weeks later a scandal appeared of a grandmother who tried selling her grandson. It turns out she said selling babies was a family tradition.