Are your characters based on people you know, or are they completely made up? I guess all writers must get asked this question since I've been asked so many times by friends, fans, interviewers and the like. For me, the answer isn't so simple.
I am made up of all the experiences I've had, all the people I've known, all the stories I've heard and read. As I think about the answer, I realize I've based some secondary characters on friends and clients. But the characters always take on a life of their own and usually differ in some major ways from their model. When it comes to my major players, I can honestly say they are pure imagination.
As I write this, I'm in the midst of updating a workshop on characterization I'm giving in a few weeks. I realized as I made note cards the reason my major characters are not based on those I know. They spring from a particular GMC. Their personality must conform to what I need it to be. Not true of the supporting cast, whose GMCs can be a little more loose, a bit more pliant.
So what about you? How do you come up with exciting characters?