Thursday, August 2, 2012

Are You Watching?

I'm a people watcher. Have been all my life. I like finding little quirks in people that maybe they don't realize they have. For a long time I just watched (I know, makes me sound like a stalker. I'm not) and filed the information away. Had no idea why.

And then I realized I was a writer. Not just a non-fiction journalist, but a real writer. All these character bumps and weird habits I'd filed away? Yep, in my subconscious, fictional characters were forming with these same habits. Now that I know what my brain was doing all along, I'm a little more descriptive in my people watching. I usually have a notebook handy and if something at the mall or a harvest festival or whatever catches my attention, I'll jot down a few notes. Not just 'lady picking nailpolish' but 'lady in a red dress, county fair, desperate for attention, looks bored but very aware'. To anyone else, my notes probably read like an investigator's report. And that's fine with me. 

As I was writing What a Texas Girl Wants, which is my first published book, I realized that a couple of 'real life' people - or at least a couple of mannerisms - made the pages, and I think that makes the book come to life a little bit more. Because you may not have seen that same person, but maybe you've seen someone else picking at nail polish or twirling her hair just so or slinking along the way because they're more comfortable out of the spotlight. People watching, I've found can be very beneficial...and I can't wait to use Ms. Red Dress in the story. Some day.

What's the strangest, most interesting or flat-out-weirdest thing you've seen while people watching?

In the meantime, thought I'd share poem with y'all, shared with me by a new writing friend....all about people watching.

The Thief
by Nance Hill

Beyond your perception, I'm full of deception;
from you, I will loot, filch and forage,
I'll approach with a smile, and steal all the while;
The stash goes in notebooks for storage.

I'll pilfer your grin, or the last place you've been,
or your habit of slapping your knees,
the puns that you sprinkle, your lips as they crinkle;
Whatever I fancy, I'll seize.

Perhaps I'll abscond with a faux pas you've spawned,
or a client you met on the job,
your wild-patterned tie, the half-tear in your eye;
With a swipe of the pen, I will rob.

Then I'll gather my plunder and rend it asunder,
revise 'til there's only a hint.
You won't know what I've taken until you're quite shaken
to see that I fenced it in print.