Inspiration can come in the strangest of places for writers. I’m no different. In fact, I’m probably a little weirder than most—or at least that’s what my husband always tells me. I can be inspired by practically anything!
Probably the biggest “trigger” to start me thinking about a character is getting to know new students every school year. It’s such a privilege to be able to interact with so many different people every school day. For example, this year I have a total of one-hundred sixty-nine students. Each and every one of them can say or do something that inspires a character’s traits—his speech, her mannerisms…just about anything! I figure as long as I keep teaching, I’ll have an endless supply of new potential characters.
Their names are even an inspiration. Believe it or not, naming new characters can be very difficult, especially when an author has a large number of published stories. Think about it. Heroes and heroines need original names. Each secondary character included in a book has to be named. Sometimes, I’ll have to try several on for size, but not a single one works for that character. So it’s great to have a smorgasbord of names at my fingertips. I’ve made a habit of keeping all my seating charts. If I’m ever stuck on coming up with the perfect name, I whip one out and start searching. I’ve lost track of the number of characters I’ve named after students.
I’m a people watcher—something that I’ve done practically all my life. It’s a great habit for a writer to have, because I also draw inspiration from things I see or conversations I overhear. Makes me wonder if perhaps one day a person will read one of my books and recognize something she’d said or done. What I really love is how using those experiences can give such authenticity to stories.
I also need to include the inspiration I get from the places I’ve visited. Since I began writing, I’ve traveled more than I’d ever anticipated. I’ve been to New York City, Dallas, Atlanta, Orlando, San Francisco, and many more—literally sea to shining sea. And it’s been wonderful! I always take the time to sightsee and to get the “feel” for what each new place has to offer. There’s nothing more stirring than seeing things with my own eyes.
Writers have to be alert and aware. Inspiration is right there for the taking.
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