People do strange things every day. Have you ever just sat back and watched what people do when they think no one is looking? Sometimes I do. Maybe it is the writer in me, or maybe its just morbid curiosity.
I’ve seen all kinds of nose debacles, which are too gross to mention. Then there’s the parent meltdown moments where they hope no one saw what their child just picked up off the pavement and shoved in their mouth. Of course, the lovey dovey couples who are oblivious to the rest of us and we truly wish they weren’t. Not to mention, the arguments held in tight whispers as if we can’t see the way they are throwing their arms around like a bird ready to take flight.
Yes, people watching is a sordid hobby, but it can be very informative. And albeit wicked, fun. If you are a writer, it’s a perfect opportunity to improve your craft. So, take out a notebook and find a park bench.
Here is what you might want to look for:
*Mannerisms. Write down the mannerisms you see people use to convey emotions, or their every day, I-don’t-even-know-I’m-doing-it mannerisms. It is so simple in our action beats of our manuscript to use the same physical actions. This is a great opportunity to build a log of things people do and pull from it in your writing.
*Dynamics. Write down the interplay between characters. How do they physically interact with one another? What amount of space and physical contact do they maintain during their conversations?
*Conversations: Write down some of the things that people say, if you can do it without being intrusive. What are they willing to talk about in public places? Do they talk to people they don’t know that are in the environment?
*Environment: Write down who you find in different settings and how they physically interact with their environment. That can give you great setting and story world components that make your scene in that kind of environment more real.
*Plot: Write down things that could cause conflict in the setting you’re in. Noise, a pick pocket, an old colleague. The possibilities are endless. Especially look for things that might come into that world from the edges and cause conflict. This will help you build twists into your novel.
*Fears: Look for things in this environment that a person might fear. Emotions can easily distract the hero/heroine from their accomplishing their goal. These can be used to create conflict in the scene or expected plot moments.
When you are people watching with your writer’s eye, what do you watch for?