Tagged: tips

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.

How I love writing!

I’ve added a few new fountain pens to my writing lineup. The current range looks like this:

  • Randy Hamilton tiger celluloid; medium
  • JP Lepine Winston in French Oak; bold
  • Pilot Custom 74 with an opaque navy body (!); medium
  • Noodler’s Ahab flex nib; fine to medium
  • Jinhao #450; medium to big swashes
  • Cadman & Cummins in Elder burl; bold

I’ve also got a few more inks. Noodler’s Bulletproof Black, which isn’t as waterproof as I’d hoped. Diamine Dark Blue. Iroshizuku Kon-Peki. I have to say that the last two are incredibly luscious to write with. The Iroshizuku inks from Pilot have a superb watercolor-like stroke with lovely variable tone.

Trust me. Put the Iroshizuku in the JP Lepine, Jinhao, or the Randy Hamilton…oh, what a writing experience you’ll have! Believe it.

As an author, there’s really nothing like writing your story notes in longhand with a fountain pen. It is responsive, fast, and intimate…just like the touch of an eager lover…just…on paper. Ahem.

I get a little passionate about my work.

Things I’ve said before about writing, that might need refreshing

  1. You can’t write with the expectation of fame or monetary gain.
  2. Your emotional state can profoundly impact your work.
  3. Your emotional state can profoundly change your ability to work.
  4. Writers do not stop writing, much like Coders do not stop coding. It is a discipline, an art, and a constant presence in our consciousness.
  5. Peers and friends who write are some of the best resources you have. Reach out to them. This is one of the things that social media is for, and excels at.
  6. Don’t know what to write? Pick up and old idea, toss it with another genre, and use it as an exercise. You might come up with something astounding. You might make useful garbage.
  7. Having trouble writing, reach out to a peer and start a game of Exquisite Corpse.
  8. Know of a coffee shop or restaurant in your area that has a bookshelf for customers? Tell the host/hostess that you’d like to bring in a signed copy of your book and leave it for the customers. Follow through on it. I just did this last night, and they were thrilled to have a local author around.
  9. Trade reviews with other authors, and use them as content on your website. This generates traffic for both of you.
  10. That rule also applies to interviews. Have you met my Illustrious Peeps? There will be more in the near future.
  11. If you have a copy of your book on your person (don’t leave home without it), and someone expresses interest in it, give it to them and sign it. Why? They will tell their friends about it, and might share it with them. Expand your audience.
  12. Provide emotional support to other authors who need it. Why? You hurt too. Compassion goes a long way.
  13. Appreciate your spouse/significant other/partner until you’re blue in the face. Chances are, he, or she, does not get what we do, but accepts it because they love you.

That’s all for now.