knocking_at_the_doorI was working at home a couple of days ago when the doorbell rang. The dog went nuts, which doesn’t bother me at all. I’m glad whoever is at my door in the middle of the day knows we have a noise maker. Anyway, I answered and stepped outside to be fortunate enough to meet our new neighbor.

He was a gentleman in his mid-sixties open collared shirt with a hint of a gold chain peeking. He introduced himself, first name only and told me the name of his wife. I welcomed him to the neighborhood.

Our conversation went on for maybe five minutes. In that few minutes of him doing most of the talking, I learned more about him than I know about friends in my Sunday school class that I’ve hung out with for five years.

He’s a widower who recently remarried a widow that he met at church. He’s semi-retired and his new wife teaches nursing. He has a 35-year-old son who is married and who he gave his house to in order to start a new home with his new wife. Need I go on?

Later as I was deep in my NANO writing for the day it occurred to me that the man had delivered not only our mistaken mail from his mailbox, but a great character sketch. He gave me a visual and a framework for a character who will no doubt end up in a story somewhere.

As writers we need to be respectful of our friends and family when it comes to using their mannerisms or personalities. But strangers are free fodder as far as I’m concerned. Begin to think about all the encounters you have in a day, need a man on the street or a lady in the grocery? Go find one. They are in plentiful supply.