Friday, May 18, 2012

People Watching

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Last night, Ken and I went to a dinner/theater in Kansas City. The play was a bit of a surprise as it was a musical, which  we didn't expect. "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" was filled with lots of comic moments, some good songs and a fine cast. The play was about a group of 8th graders participating in a spelling bee. Through songs and dialogue, we learned a lot about each one.

Three people from the audience were called up to the stage to be a part of the play, and all three did a superb job. The dinner was excellent, the wine more than fine, the service professional but friendly. There's a lot of waiting time between dinner and the beginning of the play, again at intermission when dessert and coffee is served. I spent some of it people watching.

I've been writing lately about being tuned in to your surroundings, and this was the perfect place to do that. I fantasized a bit with some of the people I saw. By that I mean that I tried to 'write a mental paragraph' about the ones who looked especially interesting.

There was the very elderly man who was celebrating his birthday, downing a great deal of wine for a man who came in using a walker. I watched a woman dressed all in white with sunglasses pushed up into her white hair eating a gigantic piece of a lemon tart down to the very last crumb. I noted a woman who was so thin it hurt to look at her. There was a man wearing red suspenders who had the liveliest eyes. He looked like he'd be a great dinner companion. I heard his deep, rich laugh several times.

I noticed the efficient waiters, each of whom are a story. In fact, each and every person in that theater has a story. It's fun to guess what some of them might be or to make up a story using the character traits that were visitble to me this evening.

Wherever you go, look around you. And I mean really look! Make notes if you like or keep those pictures in your mental file and write notes when you get home. People watching is an enjoyable pastime and can be mighty helpful to writers.


  1. People are fun to watch and give us good ideas for characters in writing. So glad you got out for the evening and enjoyed a dinner/play, Nancy.
    Have a great weekend!

  2. Such excellent advice, Nancy! We who write, can not afford not to look at our environment. We can be inspired by so many little things as well as big events that are happening around us! If you have trouble remembering details, carry a small notepad and pen w/you. Jot down things that will help you remember those first feelings gleaned from your observations. This is an enormous boon to creative writing, and a very good bit of advice for sure. =)

  3. I often wish I had a little camera in my forehead that I could secretly press to capture those odd apparitions I spot while walking around town, or sitting at a Starbuck's counter. Invariably, they are too odd to be believable or to describe unless you have proof!