You know the old joke that no matter what happens to a writer, it’s always material. I thought about this recently when I had to go to the doctor and wait a really long time. It could have been useless (since I had taken time away from work) but I actually found it quite inspiring. Here’s why.
Get Dialog Right
How often do we read dialog that isn’t quite right? It’s frustrating. So if you’re struggling with writing dialog that seems authentic, pay close attention to the way people really talk. They interrupt each other, they talk over each other, they roll their eyes, they argue, they communication without saying a word. Pay attention and make it work for your characters.
Faces are fascinating. I love just observing how people react to things. In the doctor’s office where I was people reacted to waiting, to being bored, to being nervous… these are universal emotions that we can apply to our characters.
How Do People Pass the Time?
Waiting brings about different things in people. One person I saw chomped on her fingernail the entire time. Another person stared up at the ceiling. Another read, and someone else smiled at the kids running around the office. We all have our own ways to pass the time. How do your characters do this?
If They Come In With Others, or Are Alone
Do your characters act independently, going to appointments alone? Or do they always want a friend there? Take a look around at your surroundings and it can help you determine what your fictional friends might do.
How Are They Dressed?
Notice how people are dressed. Do they dress up just to go to the doctor? Do they wear makeup and do their hair? Or do they come in wearing sweats and a ragging tee shirt. All of this can work for characterization.