A growing cast of characters.
I go to the gym five days a week, and I’m only there for about an hour each day. I’ve begun to see a lot of the same faces over and over again, so I guess I’ve become one of the “regulars” at this point. A side-effect of seeing the same people over and over is that I’ve begun to build them as a cast of characters in my mind. I don’t really talk to anyone. I put on my headphones and keep to myself, so the personalities of this growing cast of characters consist solely of my observations of them, which I can only do in passing because otherwise I’d be staring at them.
THE CAST OF CHARACTERS
The absolutely shredded fitness competitor whose physique I can only aspire to.
The gym bull bros (who are actual brothers) that throw the weights around when they’re done with them.
The two overweight old men who do slow, deliberate exercises on the equipment. They may be my heroes.
The massive heavy metal gym bro who advises me on my form and always wants to know what I’m listening to.
The mom whose little girl is known to either adore my son or push him around the babysitting area.
The big man with the big mustache.
The woman whose butt is so perfect I’m always one second away from staring (and being subsequently punched by her big, big boyfriend).
The teenagers who work in the babysitting area who are head-over-heels in love with my son, probably because he never gives them any trouble.
The old maintenance guy who always says “Good job, Dad!” when he sees me holding my toddler’s hand.
Building this cast of characters is a great creative exercise, too. I’ve written primarily science fiction and fantasy over the last fifteen years(!) so putting myself in a non-nerdy atmosphere like the gym gets me out of my comfort zone. It exposes me to people outside of my realms of interest, which in turn exposes me to traits, mannerisms, and quirks that help build believable characters. Going to conventions every month is great for hanging out among fellow geeks and nerds, but the world is broader than that. See who else is out there and bring your discoveries to your writing desk or drawing table. It can only help to broaden your ensemble.