I’m delighted to bring you tonight’s guest blog post, on the hilarious topic of people-watching, by Rachelle Reese.
Really, I’m not staring… it’s just…
…your nose is the one I want to give a character in the book I’m writing. Of course I can’t say that out loud – not to a stranger. So I choose a seat angled just right to do the casual side-glance thing. I mean, what else can I do? I can’t miss an opportunity like this.
I’m a people-watcher – most writers are, I think. I have no problem sitting alone at a public place and just taking in the people around me. Everything is of interest – mannerisms, tattoos, hairstyles, clothing, warts, you name it. No two people are alike; no two characters are alike.
If I’m really lucky, I can catch snippets of conversation, not to use their words, but to study the rhythms of their speech. I use a lot of dialogue in my stories and catching the right rhythm and pronunciation for a character is critical. Plus, let’s face it, some people just have funny voices. At the gas station the other day, a woman prattled on to an acquaintance at the pump in a voice like a door needing its hinges oiled that a child swings back and forth erratically, impatient to get moving. The nagging drawl of the neighbor who calls the police about your grass each time it grows up over her knees.
I sat in the passenger’s seat and listened while my husband pumped gas. I did not turn to look at the woman… I thought about doing so, but it would have spoiled the image that had formed in my mind. The vision of a character who might one day appear in a book. She is plump and wearing her going-to-town get-up – pajama jeans she outgrew a hundred pork steaks ago and a hot pink blouse she must have borrowed from her teenage daughter. Her overstarched hair was dyed dark two months ago. Silver roots sparkle through her church-lady curls.
Character… done. Well… at least her body and voice. Her background, motivations, and story have yet to form. She isn’t alive… not yet. She is like Frankenstein, lying in the vat of my mind, waiting for the right moment… the right spark… to bring her to life on the page.
Do you find characters by people watching? Have you ever been caught? Comment please. I’d love to read your stories about people watching.
That was great, thank you Rachelle!
You can find out more about Rachelle, and her writer husband John Miller, via their websites http://www.bonesofthewoods.com, http://www.mindofamadman.me, http:///www.dimestorenovel.net and their blog http://dimestorenovel.blogspot.com. You can also read Rachelle and John’s interview here.
If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please” (while quietly bouncing up and down in my seat with joy!). You can also now read / download three of my free eShorts and a writer’s block workbook from Smashwords (more eBooks to follow).
The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with romance novelist Gordon Aalborg – the one hundred and seventy-seventh of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.