Seeing the world through a writer’s eyesPosted: February 23, 2014
Something has happened to me. Something that is both a good thing (from the point of view of my craft) and a little unnerving. Also probably inevitable.
You understand, I’ve always done it. But it’s getting worse.
I’m talking about the part of my brain that views people I meet in terms of their potential to be characters in a book. (Only new people, not ones I’ve known for ages. Friends and family, you are safe. Mostly.)
I write young and new adult, so this phenomenon happens primarily when I’m talking to young people. I suppose I should be grateful it’s not every single human being I encounter.
I first noticed it when I met the girl renting the house next door. I say “girl” but she’d be a NA character — maybe mid-20s. She was tall, fit and blonde, with an elegant Celtic-knot tattoo across both her shoulders and several piercings (that I could see). Polite, tanned and gorgeous. She struck me as someone who’d get on with Melaina, the main character in Lucid Dreaming, like a house on fire.
I don’t go out of my way to eavesdrop on the conversations next door, but let’s just say that if they’re in the yard talking when I’m hanging the washing out, I can’t help but overhear them. And I have a lot of washing.
Does that make me a bad person?
Another example was a week or so ago. I went into a telecommunication shop to buy a dongle (don’t laugh — yes, I know it’s a funny word!). The staff were all in their early 20s. The one who served me had this amazing auburn hair that I assume came straight out of a bottle. The other girl was plump with a very pretty face. The third was a tall guy, broad across the shoulders, with a mop of sandy curls.
They were chatting away, including me in the conversation, and I could feel the “muse” part of my brain taking notes. The auburn-haired girl would be the main character, with the other two her best friends (and the plump girl, like Samwise Gamgee, would be the real hero). The boy would have a secret crush. All I needed was for a brooding vampire to walk in the door and it would’ve been perfect.
Unfortunately all we got was a shaggy fellow asking for directions to a rival telecommunications shop. If he was a brooding vampire, he hid it well.
I do the same thing with songs now too. Which is silly, because most songs have a romantic theme, and I don’t write romance. And when I see a spectacular weather phenomenon or breathtaking view, I start thinking about how to pin it down with words on a page.
For those of you who are writers, do you do the same thing?