There is usually some planning done prior to sitting down and writing that next fictional tale. Writers will most likely have a formulated plot with multiple sub-plots and a protagonist surrounded by a list of characters. Depending on the genre, they will have their scenes of crowded malls, peaceful beaches, dangerous battlefields, or romantic bedrooms, all fixed in their heads. Where do they get those ideas? If other writers are anything like me-the ideas are all around us.
When I am not eagerly tapping away at my keyboard, trying to show the lazy, black crow following the busy squirrel in the field, to see where he is burying his nuts, only to dig it up and steal it when the squirrel leaves, then I am out taking care of life’s mundane chores.
During those moments, I pay special attention to the little details that may go unnoticed by the casual commuter or shopper. I’m not speaking just of that pretty sunset or sweet-smelling rose; I’m speaking of the things most people would think of as strange to even pay attention to. When I go to the bank, I wonder at the well-worn floorboards in front of each teller’s window; the sooty butterfly shapes of numerous deposits and withdrawals. I soak in the sunlight that pours through my kitchen window when I make dinner, not because of the time of day, but because each spring and fall it lights up the spot where I stand at the stove and bathes me in warmth. I even giggle at the thumping of the cappuccino machine, at my local coffee-house, while I wait for my order; reminiscent of the sound from the game Space Invaders, amidst the pressurized hissing of steamed milk and muddled speech of five simultaneous orders.
Those small, and seemingly quirky, observations add to my personal bank of moments that I can now pull descriptions to write my scenes. Writers need to show, not tell, in their stories, and these tidbits of life make the characters and scenes more believable to the reader, pulling them in and making them part of the story.
So, if you’re sending off a package at the post office, and you happen to notice someone curiously admiring the brick texture of the wall, don’t write them off as odd and insane; they may just be the next New York Times bestselling author.