There are many fine arts that go into being a writer, but for me one of the most important is having an observer's eye.
I set myself a challenge this weekend - to toddle into my local pub for an hour, have a pint, and do nothing except watch people.
The task was to gather as many ideas for quirks / elements of character, details of setting, and thoughts of stories as I could.
In essence, I was people watching, and it was a great pleasure. I did allow myself one diversion from simply watching, because I just couldn't resist this photo -
One drink for me, one drink for him, it's only fair... that'll make it into a book before too long.
Anyway, the score card from my one hour challenge came out like this -
Two ideas for short stories, half (approximately) an idea for a book, six little details that would help bring the decription of a setting to life, and 22 character observations.
The character part is often my favourite, as for many writers, as it's so important for our work. I won't bore you with a list, but my most enjoyable was the newly together couple, a few tables away.
They were angled together, as close as could be given the bounds of public decency, body language all interlocked and engaged, intense eye contact, continually reaching out to hold hands or stroke legs.
Ah, it was wonderful, as though the air between them was charged with the electricity of love.
Yes, that's one of the great things about being a writer. You can go anywhere and do anything and still indulge in the people watching thing - and call it work!
(Even if decency did stop me putting my pint down as "research expenses").