Real life people watching/studying/interacting for better fictional characters?!

In order for the readers to understand the characters and feel a bit or a lot of a connection to them, along with the characters feeling human, the writer has to somehow write/study/interact with different people to understand what it truly means to write humanize fictional characters, right?

Unfortunately, I am NOT a social person, nor do I find the idea of people watching/studying ideal, personally. I mentioned this a while back but watching everyday people go about their daily lives from a distance, talking to each other, dealing with situations, and more is really hard and uncomfortable for me.

Like I can watch television shows and study/people watch that way, but it’s not enough and those people are a bit different than real life people. It’s hard because for me to get out of my comfort zone these days, even with a mental health issue most of the times crippling me.

I get on edge just being around a crowd and immediately want to do things and get the hell out! So, watching people to write better characters and their dialogue is important, but even being discreet and not making a scene while study watch people is hard. I daydream, get distracted, my senses are in a bit of an overload, and want to leave.

So, how do I create human and interesting fictional characters with humanized speeches and something readers can connect with in a way, when watching/studying/interacting with real life people is a challenge for me?

Thoughts and feelings?



How do you write human characters that are appealing/interesting/just real enough in dialogue and actions?


Not a problem for me since I love shopping, and we eat out at restaurants every so often. But yes, I’m an introvert, so being around people too long or in the wrong circumstances is overwhelming and uncomfortable. Have you ever read Quiet by Susan Cain? Awesome book! You’d be surprised at how many successful people are actually introverts.

You likely have more human interactions than you realize, though. For one thing, I think most of us here in the forum are pretty sincere and open, so you’re people watching here without really thinking about it. You also watch a lot of YouTube videos, eh? Just watching people review books or whatever is people watching too. ¯\_(ﭢ)_/¯


Neither am I :stuck_out_tongue:

And studying real-live people for me doesn’t help because I live in Japan and people act differently, and my characters are feline so their body language is slightly different.

So, I’m constantly thinking about how to make dialogue and character interaction more real.

I’ve tried really, really hard to imagine the characters as real. I try to think, “okay, I’m not writing fictional characters. These are real people with real feelings and real thoughts. What exactly is going on here?”

Idk if it’s helping me, but I feel like I have a sense of something working :woman_shrugging:


How indeed XD Idk if I’m successful until I hear from readers.

Then if they say the characters are believable, I say that’s a win.


watch more TV


I watch tv, people on YouTube, and all of that.


I think it would be helpful if you’re a little autobiographical when thinking about characters and dialogue. This way, you don’t sit and stare and people-watch for the sake of people-watching. Instead, you’re participating — which is essential for good observation. You can parse the sensory, the context, the emotional affect, the nuances etc. instead of a surface-level he-she-said. It’s helpful for me.

I’ve jotted down plenty of one-liners people have said to me. Some of them are inconsequential. Like a friend enthusing about milk substitutes offered at a health-food shop: Incredible Nordic oat-milk! Some of them are personal or cutting ones. Like this by an ex-boyfriend: I think you sit on these resentments and stab me every once a week to make sure I know how you really feel. I’ve used both of these lines for the basis of characters and stories.

You’d be surprised how much you can draw from your own life.


I used to see a crowd as something to cut through.


I am doing all I can to watch things in relation to real people in movies and television shows.

It’s going fine…

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Being able to create human interactions that can seem authentic and interesting can come from various sources.

  1. Reading or watching TV and movies.

As you’ve said, it’s probably one of the best ways without physically being there, but it can also be different because they’re staged and scripted. So, it’s not entirely authentic. But it does give an idea on how people can talk, accents, interactions.

  1. YouTube.

When in doubt, YouTube it. Watching vlogs of people in groups or with friends can be really good because quite a lot of vloggers don’t script certain interactions. If you want to write about two guys who are best friends but you’re wondering how they talk to each other, how they interact, Sam and Colby is a perfect example of two dudes who do silly things. YouTube just brings you closer to that experience.

  1. Family and friends.

I don’t have any friends, but I do sometimes go to social events that my sister is invited to, like sometimes we’ll hold a painting night and some of her friends come over and hang out. Sometimes, she’ll be invited to a birthday party or wedding, and I’ll be invited too. Sometimes, I go to her church (usually for holidays - I rarely go any other day as I’m not religious), etc. But through it all, I am able to slow things down and pay attention to how people talk to each other, their mannerisms, what they talk about, etc. You don’t really have to sit somewhere and stare at people for hours on end. You just have to be in a place where people are - whether you know them or not - and consider how they talk and act.

  1. Past or current experiences (like work/school related).

And lastly, experiences you can take from memory or ones that have happened recently. As part of the friends and family version, another way is through work and school. Co-workers, customers, fellow students, teachers, and everyone beyond that. Even if you aren’t in school or aren’t working currently, you can always think back to past experiences and consider using it as a learning curve. Since I primarily write YA, for example, I think back to my past experiences in school (how students acted, how they talked, their conversations) as well as current-day students. I work with a lot of teens, and I have a teenage sister who has quite a few friends I’ve met and or seen her talk to. And even past the interactions, I can still use their actions/lifestyle/situations as a guide to help with storytelling (well, if I wrote contemporary teen fiction haha) because there’s a lot of tea that goes around. The teens at my sister’s school are hoes, bitchy, players, and crazy. :rofl: Honestly, not too far off from my own experiences haha.

Overall, I like to think of it as psycho-analyzing and acting as if you’re a psychologist when it comes to people interacting with one another. Seeing how people talk and act can be the cherry on the top, but at the end of the day, it comes down to your environment, personality, opinion, and pretty much anything else that shapes who you are. If you utilize movies, shows, books, YouTube and other personal experiences while keeping in mind of the psychology aspect of it all, you may have good enough material to create well rounded characters who have authentic interactions.


I don’t have answers for this lol I used to people watch to draw, but not to write. I guess I just think of people I’ve come across in real life, or characters I know in existing IPs for inspiration? :thinking:

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