Halloween is next week.
This is prime time for people watching, guys. It’s prime opportunity to get in some people research, some character profiles, and some amazingly hilarious dialogue ideas.
Now, I’ll be the first one to tell you that I hardly ever do anything for Halloween. I’ve never been much of one to put on a costume and go to a party… but I’m really not much of one to go to a party anyway. Or go out. …I’m an antisocial writer, I admit it.
If there’s one thing I love about Halloween, it’s that there’s always a plethora of people to watch around this time of year, and those people make great canvases on which to base characters. Let’s face it, people always are. But when they’re being someone else, when they’re dressed up as someone else and pretending they aren’t who they really are, it makes things much more interesting.
So, here I have a short list of things you need to do this time of year, if you’re a writer in search of new character ideas (and let’s face it, whether you’re working on a new book or not, you should be searching for new character ideas).
Listen for conversation between characters
I mean, we should be doing this all the time anyway, but there are some great bits of dialogue between characters who don’t belong in the same universe. That’s helpful to you! Those diehard fans who stay in character no matter what are the ones you’ll learn the most from. They’re the ones who’ll show you what it would be like for Spock to meet Edward Cullen—which is exactly the type of interaction we can use for inspiration for our own characters.
Watch for behavior changes, between character and reality
This is something I love spotting. Even those diehard fans have occasional slips of character, the occasional action that they would do, but their character wouldn’t. And for the average Joe, staying in character is completely impossible. Let me tell you, you can get some great character ideas off watching various costumed party-goers interacting with their friends. I mean, you wouldn’t expect Geralt the Witcher and Peregrin Took to be the best of friends… but what if they acted like it?
Find a good place to people watch, where there’s guaranteed to be a lot of people in costume.
Make sure you do this, no matter what. Go to a party if you have to. Find a bar where there will be costumes. Go out and observe the people, because this is the time of year when observation explodes into new levels of characters—and that’s exactly what us writers need.
And, as always, make sure you keep a notebook on you at all times. Or at least your phone. Something in which you can take notes and keep track of everything you see and hear. You won’t regret it.
Associate Editor, etc.