Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tuning into the world around you

Yeah, yeah, this old tripe again.

But seriously, there is so much story and character fodder out there in the real world.


Somewhere that I was, I won't say exact location, there was a man on the phone.  He'd chosen a quiet spot for his conversation.  Later, for whatever reason, he revealed to me and the people I was with that he was on the phone with a reporter from Abu Dhabi.  It was near midnight, close to press time, and the reporter needed to finish his story.

Wow, right?

I mean, what type of person gets a phone call from a reporter in Abu Dhabi like it's an every day occurrence?  What sort of job does he have?

The possibilities are endless and with this one little detail, you can create a complex, deep character, just by playing a game of "What if?" and "Why?"

My theory?  He works for the US government and the reporter was doing a story on the oil spill in the Gulf or on US aid to countries ravaged by natural disasters.

Just for kicks and giggles, leave your theory on the conversation in the comments.  Also, how do you observe the world around you?  Do you carry a notepad for people-watching?  Do you scramble for scratch paper when you see a quirk you could incorporate into a character?  Some other method?


  1. My guess is that the conversation was either travel or business related, if the guy told the truth, which I doubt. Sounds like a come on to me, and an angle for characters to meet. My hub worked for the U.S. government. To talk to a reporter as such would be the kiss of career death, it's just not done.

  2. Last weekend I was with my dance troupe on the way to a gig, and when we got there, we realized the place was super scuzzy, everyone was drunk at 6:30pm, and the band playing before us was late onstage and could literally only play 3 chords. At first, I sat and waiting with a sense of frustration and a bit ticked off... then I realized the ridiculousness of it all, and how fantastic the situation would be for a novel.

    Maybe it's a coping mechanism for writers, but I think when we allow ourselves to do it, we can see the world differently. Everything becomes a possibility, our life experiences become more than simple memories.

    I didn't pull out my notepad at the time, but I definitely should have!


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