The Joy of People Watching
Since I’ve been writing I have realised that there are stories everywhere. I was behind a couple in the supermarket the other day. She was blind, white stick, hanging onto her partner’s arm. They were arguing about where to find something.
That in itself was fiction fodder, right there, but then the kernel of gold happened. He (still with his arm looped through hers) leaned to the left and silently head-butted the toilet rolls on the shelf, three times, before resuming his conversation with her. She was seemingly unaware.
This simple act of frustration spoke volumes about their relationship.
If I’m sitting somewhere by myself, I resist the temptation to peer at my phone, instead taking in as much as I can of what is going on around me. I don’t want to miss anything. Little scenes present themselves and are just itching to be developed into characters or plot lines. I once observed a father out with his five children and I noticed that every single child had his colour eyes. Grey. Not that common. It was even a little spooky.
Of course, working in a hospital, I have the perfect environment for observing people’s behaviour and some of it ain’t that great to be honest. If you ever think you have overdone someone being rude or opinionated or abusive in your WIP, you probably haven’t. It’s amazing the number of personality disorders and sociopaths I see inside the walls of the hospital (often the family members). Some people just want to be able to say, “I told them.” As if verbally abusing health professionals will imbue them with some kind of kudos.
But I digress.
Not long ago, I noticed a relatively young patient, about 65 years old (I did say relatively) lying on her bed, beckoning to the lady opposite. This lady was in her eighties and had some dementia but was able to walk.
When the old lady got there, the 65-year-old asked her to pull the bedsheets up for her.
I couldn’t tear my eyes away as the old lady did as she was asked.
What sort of person does that? What was her story that she felt so entitled and imperious as to direct an old lady to perform such a simple act for her rather than do it herself? What a great character for a book.
My recommendation therefore is this; if you’re out somewhere and you’ve a little time on your own, resist the tyranny of the screen and enjoy the simple act of people-watching. You may find your next MC.😉