- I spend a lot of time people watching, and jotting down things that people do. I'm kind of a creeper in the fact that I sit around in mall food courts, or aimlessly wandering around just to see what people do. Then, to add to that factor, I write them down. Children misbehaving in grocery stores and how parents react, how the Bro Brigade tries to be manly when a group of girls walks by, then immediately becomes a group of madmen once they pass, old people pretending not to know what's going on then mocking the people helping them behind their backs... I've seen it all. Until, of course, something comes up and surprises me all over again.
- I eavesdrop on strangers all the time. I've developed the ability to listen through white noise and pick up on faint conversations in libraries, in the hallway, in the cafeteria, you name it. I've taught myself how to listen to more than one conversation at a time. And if something interesting comes up - you guessed it - I write it down. Even if something interesting doesn't happen, if there's a topic that comes up, I make note of it. You'd be amazed what you can learn by listening to other people's conversations, and I'm not just talking about how fat that girl over there looks in her denim mini... Oh hey, I think they're talking about me. Moving on.
- I actually use character development exercises. I'm not so hotheaded and elitist that I think I know it all when it comes to characterization and development. There's a lot to learn if you're willing to admit that you have things to learn. Yes, I use all of those resources up there. And it's not just online, either. I own books on the topic as well. And those are just a few of them.
- I write every day, whether I want to or not. I use prompts, I freewrite, I write about absolutely nothing. I bore all four of my subscribers with posts like this one. It counts; I'm still writing.
- I work with my own experiences, fears, inner ambitions, and taboos. By using parts of myself, I'm able to ensure that my characters remain "human" and never cross the border into "Sue" territory. No one is perfect, ever. If you think that, you're not looking at the person, but something you've superimposed over them. Anyone can seem perfect at first. It's when you get to know them that you see all their flaws.
- Sometimes, I just jump into writing without any ideas on character at all. At times, the best way to get a character to react and flesh out is throwing them immediately into a situation that they need to find their way out of. I'm going to be honest: I'm one of those writers who "lets their characters do the thinking." I'm the kind of writer that puts my characters in a bad situation and lets them figure it out for themselves. "But characters can't think," you're telling me. I say that you're wrong, but that's a topic for another day. For now, we'll agree to disagree.
- Most importantly, I read. A lot. All the time. I read all different authors, in all different genres. I expose myself to all kinds of writing that I can, to learn what works, and what doesn't, and how I can better improve my own writing. Good writers read. And there's a good chance that avid readers can write.
Long story short: don't overthink anything when character drafting. Don't freak out when a character you're working with changes. Good characters - just like people - change over time.