by Kimberly A. Cook (Twitter@ WarriorTales)
One of the pieces of craft a writer needs to practice is the art of observation. By people and pet watching we get ideas, insights and entertainment, all for free. With the weather starting to get warmer, we are on the cusp of prime people watching season.
Walking into my day job building, there is a swale which holds run off rain water. Week before last a pair of ducks were swimming around in the pond six feet from the building. Day in and out I noticed most people didn’t realize the ducks were even there, hiding in plain sight every morning.
Outside my house the other day, a friend noticed a key was hanging from a tree branch. We figured out someone dropped their house key and with no identification and a Good Samaritan tied the lanyard around the tree to serve as a signal. How many great story ideas, characters or dialogue clips have we lost in the trees by not using our writer “Spidey” sense?
Eavesdropping dialogue gold mines for me are mass transit, lines at the grocery store, anyone on a cell phone in public, movie theaters before the movie starts and any sporting event. Malls are great too because not only do you see all kinds of people and outfits, you can snack and drink cocoa at the free viewing tables in the food court.
As a fiction writer I like to make up stories about the people I see, imagine what their “back stories” are and what their current mission might be. It’s a great way to exercise your mind and let your subconscious get some new input.
A piece on the radio recently talked about how doing chores or repetitive tasks can unleash your inner creativity. Great ideas come to me when gardening, washing dishes, in the shower and taking out the trash. Seems our grey matter needs a muse break too.
So it’s time for writer Spring training. Get ready to do chores and people watch. You too may discover some hidden drone ducks on a secret mission or a new mystery book series idea, hiding in plain sight. Get in shape now for writer summer RECON!