I was so good this morning, I took my laptop with me to the car place so I could write while I waited. But what I found was a waiting area full of life. Two men were watching the Today show. I’ve always thought of it as the precursor to our modern 24-7 news networks. But my brain wanders. Both the guys watching TV were under 40. Two other guys (must be the day for men to bring in their cars,) both over 60, were reading, one a book, the other his iPad. Must be a generational thing. Another guy who looked to be somewhere in his mid-to-late 40’s is, like me, working on his computer (note to businesses who make people wait: put plug-ins in your waiting areas.) He kept getting up, leaving, then returning with papers. I’m guessing he’s a rep. of some kind who’s taking up the plugin I want.
I’m not the only woman here. Since I’ve been here (about ½ an hour), there’s been four women come and go. One was waiting for a ride to get back to work. The other had her mom come and get her. I know because she told her son that Nana was coming.
My point is they’re all normal people doing what normal people do. No one stands out, no one is acting strangely It’s a scene that would never make it into a book.
Now, there have been times when the people around me do make it into my prose. I wrote about one not long ago. But no one today had turned into a character.
We can’t take slices of life and just plop them directly into our book, no matter how real they are. At least not ones from a Toyota dealership on a Monday morning, in Boise, Idaho. We have to do a little inventing, a little embellishment. We take the people we see, their actions, dress, and looks in to account, then let our imaginations run. That’s what’s what makes writing fun.
That guy working on his computer—the one who keeps getting up and returning with papers—suddenly becomes an computer hacker posing as a representative from a vender who is trying to catch a salesman with his company who is stealing from them.
How about the old guy with his iPad? He turns into an FBI agent tracking an employee who has been making threats against government officials. He is coordinating the agents who are about to move in for the arrest. And on it goes. A story for everyone.
Watch the people around you when you’re out. Take each one and give them a story. You may never use the saga you invent for them, or it may spark something interesting. It’s all about exercising your skills.
How do you exercise your creative muscles?