To be a writer you need to go shopping
Before Christmas I took my wife shopping. Nothing unusual about that; we often go shopping together. The major target of our shopping was clothing. While I was waiting for her to try on some clothes – I’d already bought all that I needed – I wandered out into the mall near in front of the shop. I found a seat and did some research for my writing.
I had a small notebook in my pocket but I didn’t get it out. In retrospect I should have started jotting down a few sentences. You see, I had an intensive half hour of writing research right there in that mall. I was endlessly fascinated by the passing parade of people. People watching is essential research for writers of fiction in particular.
I saw fat people, skinny people, people of all ages, tall people, short people, people with fair skin, people with dark skin and some whose skin was so dark it glowed in the sunlight. I saw fair hair, red hair, curly hair and some with no hair. I saw elderly people leaning on each others’ arms for support, I saw people in wheelchairs loaded up with Christmas presents, I saw babies in arms, one in a papoose carrier and more in prams and pushers. One baby leaning over his mother’s shoulder gave me the most heart warming smile. This pleased me; babies usually burst into tears after just one look at me.
I saw people dressed up like they were on their way to church while others looked like they had come straight from the beach – it was less than a mile to the beach so that’s no surprise. I saw security guards in uniform, a cleaner emptyingÂ rubbish bins, couriers loaded down with parcels and gangs of teenagers wandering without purpose now that school had finished for the year.Â One young girl was chastised by her mother for buying an icecream while toddlers whined impatiently wanting to go home. I even saw Father Christmas riding a suitably decorated golf buggy.
What a fascinating collection of people. What a rich vein of writing gold just waiting for my mind and my pen to dig into.
When you want to find an interesting character for your story – go shopping. If you open your eyes you’ll find enough material for a dozen stories.