Girls Write Out
Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Most writers are observers by nature. We observe ourselves, we observe others, then we use what we observe in our writing.

Like the other day. I was driving down the road alone and had to brake suddenly for a cat. What was my response to potential disaster? (Yeah, some people don't consider a dead cat a disaster, but work with me here.) Did I make sure my purse hadn't dumped it contents or that my drink hadn't spilled?

No, I was taking note of my physical reaction. Okay, I feel a sudden rush of adrenaline, a heated prickle under my arms that's spreading to my fingertips. Okay, now it's fading but my heart is still racing. A pencil . . . where's a pencil?? Well, it's on the floor in the pile of spilled purse.

We observe other people too. Some people call this eavesdropping or being nosy, but I like to file it under research. Last week I was noting the contents of a woman's groceries in the checkout lane. You can tell a lot about a person by looking at her groceries. Don't look at me like that. You know you've done it too.

This woman for instance. She had generics galore. Generic ketchup, generic pop, generic toilet paper. But the one thing she had that wasn't generic was the cat food. Only Friskies for her darling. What, the people get the cheap stuff and the cat gets gourmet? Aren't things a little out of balance here? I'm just saying.

I imagined what motivated her buying habits and came up with all kinds of scenerios for why her cat is on the family pedestal. Hey, maybe the woman's darling is the same cat I almost ran over. Hmmm . . . . Don't you love it when a story connects in unexpected ways?

Maybe I'll never use any of it, but I exercised my creativity and passed the time. So go ahead and observe, guilt-free. If you're not a writer, it's cheap entertainment, and if you are a writer, you have an endless source of inspiration.
Denise Hunter  
posted at 4:15 AM  
  Comments (9)
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At 8:33 AM, Blogger allen said...

It drives my wife nuts, but I'm always sketching scenes out on napkins, scrap paper, church bulletins, etc...because the ideas sometimes hit me at the oddest times and I find myself, like Denise, more concerned about getting the idea or image or scene I have just witnessed or thought up onto paper and less concerened about everything else around purse spills for me though (Kevin will get that joke).

At 9:23 AM, Blogger allen said...

(the sound of wind blowing a tumble weed through a dusty street)
looks around...sees nothing..."Sure is quiet."

At 10:17 AM, Blogger Denise Hunter said...

LOL Allen. It's the week of Christmas and everyone's zipping around trying to get everything done on time. I know the feeling.

At 10:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love watching and observing people and using certain characteristics of my friends in my characters. And when I'm not getting inspiration my mom and I discuss everything about the characters what they are doing, what they are feeing, what they want etc.

At 12:29 PM, Blogger Jaime said...

I TOTALLY check out the grocery carts! I'm also big into study the features or physical form an actions of an individual. Unfortunately, I usually fix into a dead stare on someone and then they think i'm checking them out and it gets really awkward. Gotta watch that ...

It's better if the person's in a movie, then I can stare and mentally write their description in my head. However, that can come back to burn me too. In studying a very good looking Paul Walker in the Fast and the Furious, i finally turn to my husband and said, "you know, I've never been attracted to blonds, but Paul Walker is pretty cute." I was met with a dark stare and then immediately realized my error - my husband is blond. Oops.

At 12:49 PM, Blogger ~ Brandilyn Collins said...

You brake for CATS?

At 1:07 PM, Blogger Denise Hunter said...

Ouch, Jaime! I'm sure you added, "Except for you of course!"

Brandilyn, shame, shame!

At 3:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post. I'm an observer, but I also ask a lot of questions. I think it's annoying to people, but hey, gotta do what I gotta do!

Rachel :)

At 3:10 PM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

Oh I'm so going to see this in a manuscript from D. I can see it coming now. . .


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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

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