Are you a people watcher?
A people watcher watches people. A people watcher observes mannerisms, including the way others walk, carry on conversations, and how they perform the millions of different actions involved with getting through life.
A good writer is a people watcher, but with a catch: A good writer remembers what he/she observes, and uses those observations in character development in stories.
Do you know someone with an unconscious nervous habit of using phrases like “you know” in their conversation? Use it!
Know someone that is dealing badly with personal tragedies? Save that knowledge, and, later, have your character deal badly with a personal tragedy.
Do you know someone with strong political leanings? Save that, and create a character that takes those leanings to the extreme.
Truth is, everyone you know, and everyone you meet, has the potential to lend their characteristics to your writing. As a writer and an observer, you have the ability to use the things that make people individuals. You have the creative license to exaggerate or downplay those characteristics, but all of those things come from observing the many different people in your life.
So, go to a public place, like a shopping center, or a park. Watch people. Listen to people. And, by all means, remember what you see and hear...and use what you observe to create different, realistic characters in your writing.
And keep reading!
Michael (T. M.)