Today I tweeted about the rain – random I know but it suddenly hit me that where the majority of people see rain as wet, dull and horrible, I see it as an opening for a chapter in my novel. ‘She shivered, pulling the jacket tighter around her shoulders, as the rain ran rivers down her neck. It was time.’
It has to be said, I love the rain.
This made me look around and think about how others see different things and how I see them. Take for instance the ‘statue man’ in the town today – I don’t know if they’re actually called something official but a man dressed as a statue is, to me anyway, a statue man. Many people had put the coins in his little tub, and no doubt smiled politely as he moved position to acknowledge the payment. But how many actually looked at him? He was a coloured gentleman, approximately 6ft, slim build, and aged 25-30 years. His hands looked soft, definitely not callused, and I would bet he had a killer smile. So from statue man, I obtain a description that could potentially be used as a character somewhere along the line.
And then of course there’s my job – I’m a qualified crime scene investigator with 3 years experience in that role, and now work for the communications department dealing with calls from the public. Normal folk would be pretty amazed at the silly things people dial 999 for, but in the midst of the chaos are genuine people who need help. And when you can be the one to get that help there, then you suddenly become very important. Whether its the young child who’s ‘dad is hitting his mum’ or the elderly lady who has been burgled – ‘but he said he was from the water board’. The main thing is to stay calm, and get the questions you need answers to across quickly so you can send officers. Then you can listen, and start to understand what the person is actually calling about, and understand how they are being affected. Dealing with people, when they are upset and often, screaming down the line, could cause alot of people distress. But its a job, like any other, and its important to maintain a mediocum of distance.
This naturally doesnt apply to writing however. In writing you want the closeness and you want the readers to experience what is happening to the character, almost as if it were happening to themselves. I guess what I’m trying to say is that whatever you do as a job, however you deal with the traumas and stresses involved in that job, and whatever emotions you have to hold in check while you work, its vital to remember how those emotions actually feel. Put yourself in the shoes of the person who has just been stabbed and is trying to tell you what happened. Or the man dressed as a statue in the town centre. And use this to convey whatever story you want to tell. The more real the emotion behind the character, the more you will want to get to know more about them as a reader.
Try it yourself, look at something and think about how you see it as a normal person, then think about how you could use what you saw in the context of writing. Trust me, wonderful things can happen 🙂