Watching People

February 18, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Posted in Experiences, Society, Writing and Life | 2 Comments

  I regularly read the blog Live to Write – Write to Live. On Fridays, they have a group post from their contributors, called “Friday Fun”. This week’s post is People Watching.

This is a great topic, and one that I think pretty well every writer will identify with – these writers certainly do, in slightly different ways.

People-watching is almost essential to a writer who finds characterisation very important, as I do. It is an interesting exercise to sit in a park or a coffee shop, on a train or bus, or at an airport or a party, and watch the passing parade. However, even when we are not doing it actively, I do believe that many of us do it subconsciously.

We are all different in what we take in when we observe people. I find it difficult to remember the exact details I see and hear, apart from something that really stands out, like a voice that doesn’t seem to belong, or very unusual clothing. Because my hearing has deteriorated in the last few years, I cannot pick out conversations or even phrases. However I do take in the attitude, the general appearance, the body language.

  Of course, we all interact with people on many different levels. We may not even be aware that we are taking note of the differences between them and the way they act and interact, both with us and with others.

I know I have been soaking in the actions and responses of people ever since I was a child, though I have not done it at a conscious level. Now, when I write, I have all that embedded knowledge to draw on.

I have been told that I create believable characters, give them appropriate actions and responses, and write natural-sounding dialogue for them. I believe it is my experience that allows me to do this. (See my novel Ben’s Challenge)

What about you? Do you people-watch? Are you able to remember detail? Or are you more like me – a generalist, who absorbs everything rather than remembers detail?

© Linda Visman
18th February 2012



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  1. Hello There. I discovered your blog using msn. That is a really neatly written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and return to learn more of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I will definitely return.

    • Hi Cliff. Feel free to visit any time, and I hope you will find other posts to be of interest.

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