First, get your mind out of the gutter. Now, let me get mine out too. Seriously, I do like to watch. I’ve always been more of an observer than a talker. It’s rare that I’ll talk anyone’s ear off. Just ask my wife. It drives her mad that I prefer quiet solitude to a rip-roaring conversation any day. I find I learn so much more if I just listen and watch. I believe that a person’s actions or behaviors reveal much more about them than anything they say. Anyone can say what they think you want to hear, and many do. The question that always lurks in the back of my mind is what would they do if they thought no one was watching. These thoughts often lead to some interesting story ideas. You take a simple act and twist it around until you’ve created something entirely fictional from a real life event.
I often pay attention to the most trivial details. I’m not quiet sure why such things catch my fancy. One of my favorite places to do this is at a race – not the car racing kind, the foot racing kind. Runners are an interesting lot with many colorful characters that would pop off the page if given the right amount of care. I’ll often pass by someone and notice the little details about them and spin them into a story. Many of the characters in my stories have come about this way. Whether it’s the way they talk or the sway of their gait, something unique usually catches my eye and I’ll recall these attributes later when I’m writing. Sometimes, I’ll even go so far as to record my observations in my notes for use later. They may not fit in the current story I’m working on, but I could use them later. Every good story requires interesting characters.
Some of my friends may read this and be concerned that they’ll find themselves in my stories. No need to worry. It’d be impossible or a mere coincidence to recognize any real person in the characters I create. Like a lump of clay, I mold them and form them into something wholly unrecognizable. There’s just enough reality to get started and then the fun part begins. That’s the great thing about writing fiction. You can make your characters be anything you want even if their genesis was a real person.
So, like I said. I like to watch.