People watching

When you’re building a story, don’t hesitate to populate it with people you’ve seen. In fact, I encourage writers to carry a notebook wherever they go. I do…usually…I forgot it today. That’s part of why I’m writing this post; I want to remember her.

There’s a woman in the coffee shop, sitting on the opposite side of the store, and there’s something about her that inspires questions. I’ve watched her look at every female customer that’s come into the shop, and it isn’t a gentle glance. I think she’s sizing them up.

Why is she doing it?

That’s the first question I’d answer in order to start building a character. There’s a wealth of material right there. I’ll show you.

She evaluates the other women because she’s vain. It is important to her that she’s the most desirable person here. Why? Someone in her past addicted her to that feeling, whether by constant praise, or frequent humiliation.

Because I write stories that are often dark, this woman might have more to her than these things. She’s not just sizing them up for looks, but for how easy they’d be to feed on. This person is a vampire who only preys on women.

That’s a whole story that arose from observing another person’s behavior! I didn’t even touch on what she looks like, or the sound of her voice. Let’s look at those things.

She’s wearing a middle-green sundress, with a sheer bra (or none at all, based on…what can be seen) and visible panty lines. Her shoes are brown, leather, strappy sandals. The dress has a bow in the back to further define the waistline. A necklace, thin gold chain, with a tiny pendant that matches her earrings.

Her hair color is what I call “fried chicken,” a shade between brunette and blonde. He eye color looks hazel.

Her body is interesting, a long torso. If she were two inches shorter, and even thinner than she is, I’d call her a waif.

At a guess, I think she’s 30 or younger, but not any younger than 26.

She’s spoken to the man she’s with a couple of times, and her accent isn’t typical Northern Virginia.

Oh, she just snapped at the man. There’s a temper in there!

Back to her voice, she almost sounds European, but not so much that I’d lay a bet on it. Maybe Canadian. Failing that, she could be from New England, but there’s nothing that would give me an idea on location.

Here’s the point I’d like to make: there is a whole book in any person you see. Observation and creativity are the best tools in a writer’s shed.

Two entries in one day, I know.

I found out that a friend of mine died over the weekend. This was not a “we saw it coming.” It was sudden, and completely unexpected.

Sometimes, you know someone, and you are completely aware that there was a time before you’d met…but you just can’t figure out how long ago it was. Annette was like that for me, I just don’t know how long I’ve known her. Now, a silhouette shaped like Annette has been cut from the pattern of my life.

Words are failing me when I really want them. There has to be a story, something that will stitch things so that they make sense…but I don’t know what it is.

Last year, I lost two friends. George was killed in an attempted robbery. Elise died from a post-surgical infection. George’s tragic murder has story, context, and a clear narrative path to grieving and healing. Elise’s passing had those things too.

Annette’s death, for me, has no such cushion to rest on. All I see is where she was, and will no longer be.

There were tales I’d yet to tell her. There were hugs, and affection left to give.

Don’t make the mistake of not taking opportunities to give those hugs, that affection, and tell those tales. We can never do it all, and we may always feel something has been left undone.. Acceptance will be easier if we know we did all we could have.

I think there are some things that should be said whenever the chance presents itself. They are:

  1. I’m proud of you
  2. You are a good person
  3. I accept you
  4. I love you
  5. I’m sorry
  6. I forgive you
  7. Thank you

Thanks for reading my ramble. I hope you are well, and take every chance to make your relationships as meaningful as you can.

I appreciate you very much.


What do you think?

Looking ahead at “Great Kills Believers,” I’ve come to a crossroads in dealing with the “boss monster.” On one hand, I’m considering strict satanic cult. On the other hand, I’m eyeballing something more along the lines of an ancient evil from the dawn of creation. I don’t want to step on Lovecraft, if I can avoid it, so the cosmology will be new.

Could I ask YOUR opinion on this? The last time I crowd sourced an idea, I ended up with “Manleigh Cheese.” I’d call that a success.

Speaking of “Manleigh Cheese,” I’m around 32K words into the sequel. That’s behind my goals, but I wasn’t expecting an evil encounter with writer’s block. The important thing is that I’m writing it in the first place. Right?

Now, completely unrelated to anything else…here is an example of Uchigumori. It is a stone used in the final polishing of Samurai swords. Have I mentioned that I have a wide range of unusual hobbies?

Uchigumori koppa