An author friend of mine, Karen Harrington, recently asked two interesting questions on The Write Type, a multi-author blog we both belong to.
Her questions were: Do you observe people and conversations? Do you sometimes fill in the blanks about what is taking place?
Like Karen, I find people fascinating. I watch their facial expressions, mannerisms, how they relate to people around them.
I also study their hair, partly because of my past life (real past life) as a stylist and partly because hair tells a lot about a person.
Is her hair styled, freshly washed? Is it simple or elaborate, or wildly colored? Is his hair naturally that color? Did he straighten it for her? Is there a squished in patch at the back that suggests he just woke up? Why did he wake up so late? Is he lazy or was he moonlighting as a criminal fighting vampire?
You can tell a lot by how people dress too.
Is she wearing make-up, fashionable clothes and expensive shoes or did she just throw on a sweater over her PJs, thinking no one can tell she's in her night wear? Are his jeans practically falling down under his butt? Does he really think this is cool? Why would a sixty-year old man think that?
Okay, these people haven't made it into one of my novels--yet. However, there is a young nanny at a park in my new (no release date, sorry) novel Children of the Fog, and she is a composition of many women I used to see at the park when my daughter was a baby.
Other people I've watched may not have made it into a novel, but some have made it to my blog. People are fodder for writers. Not that we'll chew you up or spit you out, but more that your actions or words may spark something in me and I'll assign them to a character, knowing that if nothing else, they'll ring true. I do sometimes imagine what their lives are like. One look at some people can give me a story without them even opening their mouths. It may not be the correct story, but it'll be interesting all the same.
Airports are a great place to watch people. So are malls. My favorite place is a bookstore--usually because that means I'm there signing books if I have that much time to watch people. You can tell a lot about a person just by the books they buy.
Yes, I am a watcher. I naturally notice things. And who knows when something I see will end up in one of my novels? :)
~Cheryl Kaye Tardif