Crime author Pauline Rowson answers - Where do your characters come from? Are they based on real people?:
"Characters come from inside my head. They also come from observing people and can sometimes be based very loosely on people I have met or an amalgam of people I have met. As a writer I also consider myself an actor in that once I begin to draw up a character I then have to get inside that character's head and understand his or her motivations and personalities even if I despise them or they are villains, and even if they are bit parts. I have to think what does it feel like to be them? I ask myself, given this individual's background, experiences, pesonality how would they react to a situation or another individual? These questions in turn begin to shape the plot and subplots.
I like to observe people for their mannerisms and travelling on public transport is great for doing this. In fact, I've said it before and I'll say it again, I think that every writer needs to travel occasionally on public transport. Failing this, or in addition to it, sitting in cafe and watching people is also a pre requisite of being a fiction writer. You might also be able to eavesdrop on their conversations (there's nothing quite like being on a bus or train for the latter). Make sure though you do it surreptitiously otherwise you might find yourself being thumped or arrested!
Having an understanding of what makes people tick, from my study of personalities and motivations, helps me to develop character profiles. I also draw on my background in marketing and training and the many individuals who have passed my way while was working in the Job Centres and Benefit Offices, an experience that has enabled me to meet and deal with a wide variety of people from all walks of life.
I've always subscribed to the motto that no experience is ever wasted. And writers have a habit of turning all of them, (including those of friends, family and strangers) into ideas for novels and, of course, into characters.
You can read more about my characters featured in my DI Andy Horton marine mystery police procedurals and in my thrillers on my web site."