If you want to waste your time writing, drivel, I read somewhere, go ahead and write about characters you have no understanding of.
No, it would be better if, instead of writing, you explored their backstories first. Get to know their fears, their flaws, and what kind of cereal gives them hives.
This is what was in my head when I pulled into the gas station in some strange part of town.
As luck would have it, my debit card didn’t work. I didn’t feel much like going in and talking to the attendant. But I knew Harlan, the twisted antagonist in a story I should be writing, would have no problem with it at all.
So instead of going in to the attendant, I sent Harlan.
When the police had left, and the attendant stopped cursing, we both laughed a little.
I told the poor gas attendant some of the horrific crimes Harlan had committed – in the backstory to my story. We agreed that Harlan was one sociopathic MF.
It was quiet now. The streets had seen the Tuesday night commuters come and go, leaving us alone there in the dark by the pump, save for the glow from the neon sign out front.
The attendant was quiet, his mind far away. Then he stood up slowly. He looked down at me, a slight grin slipping out.
“That story is something,” he said.
“But want to REALLY see something?”