This post was inspired by an Instagram account I follow called Humans of New York (username: humansofny). I think they have a Facebook too. Anyway, the account owner goes around New York (and some other places too) and talks to people about various things (aspects of their lives, etc.). Then he posts a picture of them and captions it with part of their conversation. Their bio is “New York City, one story at a time.” I think this is so cool! Because who are we writing about anyway? People! And it’s so cool to see diverse people with their diverse stories.
Here’s an example: “My father came from Nicaragua and got a job as a construction worker. My mother immigrated from Puerto Rico and got a job as a cleaning woman. One day he was working high up on some scaffolding at an office building, and he saw her cleaning inside, so he knocked on the window. And here I am.”
I mean how cool and sweet is that?! Real life people can be story opportunities waiting to happen.
(Quick note: This account is super cool, but I can’t guarantee it’s always appropriate/happy. Not everybody has cute stories like this one, and some people’s struggles and experiences are pretty rough. There’s the occasional curse word too. Just saying so y’all know what to expect if you check it out )
Also: talk to people. Watch them. Listen to how they speak. What phrases do they use often? Do they pronounce certain things differently? What about using different words for common things? My classmates were talking to my math teacher about this once. She’s originally from another state, and we were talking about how there, people have different words for things (buggy vs. shopping cart, etc.). Things like that would be really fun to include in a character’s dialogue!
Talk to older relatives or friends. Ask about their childhood. Ask about your family history. My dad has been researching our family tree lately, and he found an old church record (in Latin!) that has one of my distant relatives’ baptism recorded on it. He also found the house where that relative grew up (we think). It’s pretty cool, to see the early parts of your family’s story. Let these things inspire you.
Have you ever been inspired by someone from real life?