Voyuerism. Is it always a bad thing? Do you see the pretty girl pumping gas? No, that’s not me. Do you see the creeper gazing with saliva gathering in the corners of his mouth? No, that’s not me either. I’m the gal behind the camera. (I didn’t take this picture. But, this is how I see the world.)
I’ve learned that if I want to be a better writer, I have to be able to describe what I see. So, I watch. In the picture above, I see a woman who is trying her hardest to not look at the creepy man gazing at her. I see a man who’s gazing at a woman he thinks is out of his league, but he doesn’t have the good manners needed to keep from ogling her.
I also see what could be—as any good voyeur does. I see the small child that might run away from his mother’s hand and dart in front of the creepy guy’s truck. I see a man who would be torn in two if he’d injured a child while daydreaming about a woman who couldn’t give a damn about him. I see a woman pumping gas that has lived through a life of being “the hot chick” and now she can’t even pump gas without somebody scoping her out. Her shoulders are back, so she probably has some kind of confidence, but her stomach is tucked in too, so that could mean that she might be holding her breath until he passes—nervous, fearful even.
Are you getting the picture yet? If you want to write believable stories, you have to look at the big picture. The whole picture. When I’m playing with my characters, I have to think about what they are thinking, how they’d react, what could happen, what will happen…the list is endless. But, I take all of this from things and situations I know. If you want to write really great characters, study people. I wouldn’t suggest being like the guy in the picture and completely creeping on people, but pay attention. Take notes. I always carry a small notebook with me and when I see something interesting I’ll jot it down.
I’ll give you the perfect example. Today, we were walking at the mall on lunch—part of my thin in 2012 plan—and I noticed this woman snatch her child by the arm, literally drag him three feet back to her baby’s stroller and give him a verbal lashing. The kid’s response was one of pure shock and dismay. “You grabbed me!” His voice rose, but he didn’t shout, didn’t really react in any other way except for a small “O” forming on his mouth and his eyes becoming saucers. This tells me that Mom must have been at her limit. He wasn’t accustomed to her dragging on him or he would have had a different reaction—maybe anger or screaming or fear. But, this kid was pretty calm. The woman leaned over and explained why she yanked him across the hall and then they strolled on down the mall. She had patience, even when I knew she had to be angry to have snatched him up like this. Controlled. What was her breaking point? Was it the kid wondering off or the fact that he was touching things?
Oh, the fun of people watching. I can do it for hours and it makes for totally good study for this craft I love so much! Do you people watch? Can you take something you see in everyday life and making a story from it? Do you give them a story like I do? Please share! Oh, and I want to thank Delilah for letting me come play on her blog today. It’s my B-Day, btw!
Rachel Firasek grew up in the south and despite the gentle pace, she harassed life at full steam. Her curiosity about mythology, human nature, and the chemical imbalance we call love led her to writing. Her stories began with macabre war poems and shifted to enchanted fairytales, before she settled on a blending of the two.
Today you’ll find her tucked on a small parcel of land, surrounded by bleating sheep and barking dogs, with her husband and children. She entertains them all with her wacky sense of humor or animated reenactments of bad 80’s dance moves.
She’s intrigued by anything unexplained and seeks the answers to this crazy thing we call life. You can find her where the heart twists the soul and lights the shadows… or at www.rachefirasek.com.