People Watching

As much as writing can be a solitary profession, there are a few tools that are exactly the opposite. One of my favorite tools is people watching.

People watching is a great way to get ideas for characters. Not only do you get to see genuine interactions, you also get the chance to stretch your building muscles as you try to puzzle out what lead up to the moment you’re witnessing. Depending on distance, you might also be able to hear snippets of conversation which can help you build a story around new characters.

Some things to observe:

  • What sort of clothing are they wearing? Is it clean or not?
  • What does their expression say about their mood? Is that reflected in their body language or speech?
  • What are they doing at that exact moment? How do those actions fit in with the scene around them?

Remember this is also a good place to break away from using hair and eye color as your main descriptors. Observe things like hair style; remember that for men this includes facial hair. Also note any physical features like scars, wrinkles, injuries, age or work-related features, or health.


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