You know that saying, life isn’t a spectator sport? Well, for writers, that is not true. We watch the world around us, the people as they interact, the children, the parents, the lovers, the elderly, anyone who might inspire a story or help with a plot twist. We catch dialogue, facial expressions, and body language. Current fashions and technology help with contemporary stories. But any scrap of personality or attitude can be worked into any Romance.
At my dentist’s office not long ago, the doctor came out to the lobby where I waited and said to a man who waited there, “I heard your daughter died of dysentery this weekend.” I felt a cold shiver and turned to see it the man minded this off-hand way Dr.B. mentioned the situation. The man smiled, and said, “Well, I died of snake bite. It wasn’t our best trip.”
Oh! They played the game Oregon Trail! This old DOS game never lost its appeal and has had a rebirth online. https://archive.org/details/msdos_Oregon_Trail_The_1990 What a great idea for a conversation in a waiting room that starts with a misunderstanding on the part of one of the characters in the story.
I suppose I am not just a spectator because I smile most of the time and make eye contact with people and say something funny if I can think of such. Yes, sometimes I don’t get it right, but more often than not, the ploy works. And I get to see how others react to humor or sympathy.
There’s a very small park near my house where I walk my dog most days. One sunny afternoon a trio of young boys were kicking a soccer ball around, the two younger boys against the older. When the older boy kicked the ball past the other two, I put my arms up and shouted, “GOAL!” The kids were amused and I noted that in spite of a vast age difference, I could connect with these kids over a common interest. Well, I’m not much of a soccer fan, but I do see some games when we go to restaurants.
I haven’t had time to do people watching for years, now. But once while at a science fiction convention next to a shopping mall, I had some time to kill and wandered over to the mall. I got a snack and sat in the middle of the main walkway. People, pets, clothes, shoes, hair, nails, earrings, food, shopping bags, and so much more passed before me in just a few hours. I was writing my first Regency Romance that had so many plot problems that I put it aside, but the character of Aunt Georgette came out of watching the well-off patrons at the mall. She later morphed into Aunt Vivienne in my Regency Banquet trilogy, lively, French, in the know about fashion and styles, and devoted to one of the main characters in the story.
So don’t worry if you think you are watching the world go by. At some point, a chunk of it will look to you like a story and off you will go. Writing the next Romance that will take the world by storm. Keep putting those words on the page. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Sunday.