Vacations are time to refresh, recharge and renew ideas especially if it includes getting away from regular schedule and familiar spot. Open your creative vision to new experiences.
Vacations are great for new perspectives and gathering plethora of material to be used in future (or maybe current) manuscripts. Add to your repertoire of examples of behavior, snippets of phrases, slang and if you are lucky, add to your list of story ideas.
Certainly, one of my favorite activities is people watching and vacations hand the writer more settings and more characters to observe. What differences can you detect about body language, what terms or slang? Use you eyes and ears for materials for future or maybe even current stories.
Being in a new area opens opportunities to add to our knowledge of others and add to our sight, smell. ( See last summer’s blogs about adding smells, sounds, tastes to your writing)
Dining out is perfect. Study those around you. How do they order? What is their tone of voice. Do they change their minds? What do they do with the menu as they order? Tap it on the counter, wave it as they talk, clean their nails on the menu edges, slide it on the table. What does that show about that person’s personality? How do they treat the waiter or waitress? As they wait for their order, do they look around, immediately go to the phone screen?
If you are close enough, eavesdrop on conversations. Do others pass the time bland chit-chat? If you can’t hear, what does the body language show about the tone?
An author is gathering invaluable material for setting up your characters. If conversation at that table is tense, but the table does want to attract attention, how do they behave? Who is the tensest at that table? How do you know? How is that revealed?
Maybe nearby at another table is a celebration. From the body language as well as “things’ around the table and the dress of those attending, what the group is celebrating? How do they show joy? Anticipation? Maybe anxiety? Is there anyone there who doesn’t’ want to be there? How do you know that? How could you describe a person’s smile? How does someone laugh? How could you compare two people laughing at that table? This is all “workout exercises” for future characters.
If you are with your family on vacation, get them involved. What does your spouse see or hear around him? Not only will he likely see things you missed, but also this is giving you “other gender” point of view. (Please feel free to change the gender of any of those in my examples.) Little kids fidget but are aware of their surroundings. Get your kids involved. Whom do they notice at another table? What attracts their attention?
Listen to their conversation and file it. Conversation rhythms differ with age group and gender. Pay attention to children, grandchildren at your table and the tables around you.
If you have a twelve-year old character in a manuscript, look for a twelve year to observe to use as a mode. Can’t tell if anyone near you is twelve? H-m-m, you need to add to your knowledge. If you can’t tell ages by observing others, look up in parenting books descriptions about each age. THEN go to a mall, a sporting event to watch kids. Be careful with this. You don’t want to be mistaken for a stalker.—-that would lead to a whole different book….
Vacations are meant for rest and relaxation, but it can also be a fun gathering of material as well. Have a relaxing, fun and productive vacation!
I will be adding my observations as I enjoy my Maine vacation.
Vacation time can be a harvest of new ideas and new views. Keep your eyes and ears open and see what you can add to your cache of character mannerisms.
Stay tuned to next vacation entry.