Last night, at the Somerville Library, I was discussing how to develop fictional characters that readers will care about and I was reminded of this scene from the Woody Allen movie, Sleeper.



"What you have here... I diagnosed the entire situation, and I think what we've got, what we're dealing with basically is a nose.  I think we're all in aggreance on that.  I have the little beggar right here.  And what you want basically is a whole entire person connected to that nose, right?  Otherwise, you'd get your money back."  (Woody Allen, in Sleepers)

And that, basically, is how I create fictional characters.  I start with a nose and using that nose, I create a whole person,  I "clone the patient directly into his suit."

Of course, it's not always a nose.  With Mr. Garibaldi, the attorney of record for the Sand Skeeter Baseball Club,  it was his feet.  It might be a nickname (Detective Eddie "Eggs" Bebedict) or a growl (Greta, the waitress with Tourette's).  I start with one small thing that I know about the character and I build out from there until I have a fully formed human being.

It really is just like the scene in Sleeper.