Get out of the house. People watch. When they speak, what mannerisms do they use? What features make them attractive? I often use the eyes, nose, and mouths of different people to create the image of my character. What color/style clothing are they wearing? How does it reflect their personality? I let my imagination run wild, guessing their background, what events in their life have shaped them, even what kind of day they are having based on their actions. All of this is great inspiration for developing my characters.
Write. My writing often inspires my next book.
Read. Watch movies. There’s an old saying that art inspires art, and I’ve often found this to be true in my case. I will catch a theme, or a character, or part of a story that captivates me, and give it my own spin.
My favorite book for inspiring my characters is Laurie Schnebly’s Believable Characters: Creating with Enneagrams. I look for the personality of the character I’ve already created in my head and study the attributes for decision-making that defines them. If I’m stuck on a character’s motives, this always gets me inspired to search for a deeper motivation!
Research. This gives me such inspiration, allowing me to step into the historical world of my characters and to truly visualize their every day life. My research will also often inspire scenes in my books and help me create adventures for my hero & heroine.
Bounce ideas off my family. My husband and sons are great listeners, and will often let me talk my story out loud, which often leads to me solving a dilemma in the plot. They are careful to listen much, and add comments rarely. What more could I ask for?
Attend my writer’s meetings. Talking to other writers always inspires me to write. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m in a roomful of other creative people and we feed off of each other, or if their excitement for the story generates my own excitement. But I’m always a fiend at the keyboard the next day.
Read my saved mail. I’m not sure if other writers do this, but whenever I receive an email from a reader, I save it in a special folder. If I’m having a difficult day writing, the stormy kind of ones where I doubt myself or my work, I read through all the wonderful notes from people who have loved my books, and are looking forward to my next one.
I go back to step 2. And if I get stuck, I repeat step 1, for it always helps to clear the mind and remind me that there’s a world of characters out there besides the ones I create. People who I don’t know, but I might have touched with my stories. How magical is that?