I spent the entire day in a workshop. It wasn't a bad workshop but like most workshops, it did have it's downtime. This downtime actually proved to be my friend.
Admist the craziness that ensues when you give more than one hundred people a break, I found something to do. I people watched. I know it sounds cliche, but I did.
Only, this time it was different. Often times, people watching involves lightly poking at the way people act when they don't know you're watching. Not this time though - this time, I focused on people and thought about how I would describe them in a story.
I watched people of different ages. I took in what they were wearing and how they were gesturing. But most importantly, I took in the first impression they gave me.
There was the gum chewer, who seemed less than professional; the lady with red high heels; and the nicely dressed lady in tennis shoes. Each of these aspects gave me an impression of one sort or another.
It made me think - what first impressions do our characters give to each other and what first impression do they give to readers? Is it the one we truly want to convey. Each day, we spend time getting dressed and preparing ourselves. Essentially, this is our way of preparing our first impression. Shouldn't we devote some time to helping our characters give good first impressoins? Don't they deserve it?
I've rambled too long. Let's make this simple and concise for you and me. In a nutshell, I learned that as writers, we can learn a lot from people watching. We can learn about mannerisms, clothing, and language - all of which are important aspects of developing a character. Remember first impressions - the are key.