Reading time: <2 mins.
Sharp observation skills, like every muscle in your body, atrophy without use. Conversely, you build and sharpen your observation skills through daily practice.
So whether your commute involves Sirius radio, a pair of Beats or your favorite FM station, you’re squandering a killer opportunity to observe when the music steals your mind away. Story ideas surround you.
[“Pay attention. Characters surround you.”]
The woman waiting for “WALK” to appear on the pole comes with a vastly different backstory than the teen in locs slipping through traffic like a human game of Frogger. job? Make them switch roles. Decide what they’re comfortable with in life and throw the opposite at them to see how they react. Go ahead. What fears pass through the woman’s mind when she accidentally gets caught in the middle of a busy street? What happened in her life that forced her to walk anyway? And how does your dreadlocked teen combat frustration when he is forced to obey the traffic light at the corner? Put him on crutches, see all the things in his life that slow down. Like a dream, perhaps. As his anger speeds up. A story starts to form, eh? Myriad avenues present themselves.
Not every character shows up with a full story inside them. Maybe they inform one of your existing characters in your work in progress. They bring an emotion, a signature characteristic or a physical attribute that brings your current character alive. Pay attention. This is your opportunity to observe. It’s fun, and you’ve probably heard that song currently playing forty-six times.
I admit, I miss the occasional exit on the highway or drive by my turn sometimes. (Okay, a lot.) But the upside – it gives me another opportunity for an observation.
Turn your radio off. Pay attention. Characters surround you. With a little practice, you’ll write a story in your head every time you’re out.