Everywhere I look I find inspiration for stories. It doesn’t take a great deal of action or thought on my part, actually. I’m a naturally nosey person and I tend to eavesdrop on conversations that don’t involve me; watch strangers interact with people when I’m shopping; I even pay attention to how people react with one another when I’m on line in the grocery store. Little snippets of conversation, a careless wave of a hand while someone is speaking, and I’ve got a story jarring to be told shooting forth from the back of mind.
Like I said, I’m nosey. Not in your face ask you a million questions nosey and annoying, but I’m the kind of person people – strangers – talk to. I’ve got “that kind of face” I guess. Really, I could talk to a rock if I needed to. And it would probably answer back. This makes me sound like a harpy or a gossip, but I’m not. I don’t go forward and seek information from people – it is divulged to me willingly and without my asking. And just BTW, I’m that gal who people trust with secrets. So…just saying.
So, my writing process starts with people. I see people ( Now I sound like an M. Night Shamylan movie!), I watch them, and I build stories around them. Character always always always comes first. My husband has commented – frequently, I’ll add- that I tend to stare at people when we’re out in public, like at a restaurant or when we’re traveling. Some of my most influential character descriptions have evolved from watching how people behave when they’re on an airport check-in line. Think about the last time you traveled and were waiting….waiting…..waiting on that check-in — and then the security — line. You will see all kinds of human behavior just chockful of character insights.
So. First I see a person, imagine them as a character, then give them an imaginative ( my imagination) background. From there, a plot will form.
Here’s a quick example – and this really did happen. I was mall shopping one day and decided to have lunch so I hightailed it to the mall Pizzeria Uno. Love their grilled chicken salad. But I digress… As I was waiting for my lunch to arrive my eyes took a tour of the other lunch patrons. I saw this: 3oish man and woman across from me. Their body language said they were involved in some kind of an argument – he kept drumming his fingers on the table, she was looking down at her drink, a scowl on her face. They were dressed in business casual, so I assumed they were on a working lunch break. Here’s the snippet of conversation that drifted my way once my salad came:
Him: you need to deal with this. Today. Don’t waste any more time.
Her: Stop pressuring me. I’ll get it done. Just back off, will ya?
Him: Stop being such a bitch about it and just take care of.
So. What did I learn from this conversation? Nothing, really. But my mind went into hyperspace and overdrive at all the options available. Was she a whistle blower? Was he a corrupt banker? Was she pregnant and he was her baby daddy and her boss? Her married boss? Were they doing something illegal? Immoral? Unethical? Dangerous?
See? This is how my mind works.
Now, in all reality, they could have been a young married couple who were still waiting to get their cable television system installed and he was getting mad she hadn’t called the cable company to light a fire under their installing asses. Who knows?
My point is, this is how my writing process works: see a person, imagine them as a character, devise a back story and then a plot for them.
Easy peasy, right?
Yeah…not so much. But it is fun people watching!
Since this is a BLOG HOP, click on the titles/names of the authors below to find out what their writing process if like. You put 1,000 writers in the same room and you’ll get 1,000 different responses!
11 responses to “Story inspiration; #MFRWauthors #BlogChallenge Week 14”
OMG….I totally do that too! It’s fun to catch a snippet of a conversation, then imagine what the rest is all about!
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and it doesn’t make us bad people…just writers!!!
My hubby is like you, he can and does talk to almost anyone. I’m a bit of the opposite. If someone engages with me, I’ll respond, but other than that, I’m not talking much to folks I don’t know.
LOL love all the scenarios you came up with from that conversation in the mall. Crazy how the mind can take on a path of its own like that.
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YOu know, Meka – being a good listener – like you are – is sometimes even better than having to be engaged in a conversation with someone!!
Love how your mind works! I tend to people watch and eavesdrop. Not intentionally mind you but when I see interesting people, say at Panera’s I start to wonder about their life because everyone has a story right? To be honest, our imagined stories are often far more exciting than real-life but there are exceptions. For example, I saw this elderly man sipping coffee, his hands trembling as he set it down to read his paper. He reminded me of my father who was about the same age. He sat alone, and after several minutes I walked over and asked if I could sit for a moment. He had a fascinating story to tell, was a decorated veteran, was about to turn 90 and didn’t look a day over 75. Turns out he was waiting for his fiance’! Before I left, I paid for pastries – the one he told me was his favorite – for him and his fiance’. They were heading to the airport to take off for a destination wedding in Cancun! How cool is that? I don’t think it’s nosy so much as I prefer to think we care for people. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
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Ellie _ I’m using that from now on. I’m not nosey! I just care about the people around me….even those I don’t know!!
I tend to not do enough people watching when I’m out. When I’m thinking about my stories, my mind is stuck in the 19th century, LOL!
I love listening to people and engaging with them. The other day while I was at a salad bar, I overheard a father say several times to his son something along the lines of, “We’re not talking about the mission now.” The son kept asking questions about what they were going to do. On my way to my seat, I stopped by and asked if they were ready for the mission. The whole family burst out laughing. It was fun.
Cailin ( first of all, LOVELOVELOVE you name!) second, this story is so fab you should use it in one of your books!!! I can totally relate to it and I love the fact the entire family laughed!
It was a cute family.
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Listening & watching people is a cool way to get story ideas. Good for you.
Since you’re nosey, here’s my inspiration. (Sorry, I didn’t see where to sign up for the linky list.)