In my opinion, the key element in any work of fiction is good characters. Almost any crappy plot-line has the potential to be salvaged if it has excellently written characters. Twilight for example had great supporting characters and backstories despite its leads and overall plot. But, my goal is not to substitute bad storytelling with colorful characters. My hope is for both of those elements to be successfully portrayed, as any good writer would want- and that requires knowing what your audience thinks is lame. No offense twilight- jeez.
Anyway, this is my third time in two weeks that I have come to this café/bookstore in search of character inspiration…okay, yeah- I’m people watching. The first time I attempted this exercise, I had described people’s traits by recording it out loud on my phone… too risky in this environment. Taking out the recorder is safer at the mall, or the park. So today I’m recording my subjects on paper.
Today was a good day to people watch. It’s Thursday, 2pm, the place is busy but not too loud. I got here before the afternoon rush to make sure I got the back corner table, it has the best view point of almost the entire café. As I sit and sip my tea, I carefully observe every face, I take in the sound of each voice, until I find my first subject. That’s when I see the guy sitting a few tables across from me. He looks about eighteen. He’s wearing a black t-shirt with a ridiculously loud design on it, and a black and green snap-back. He must be waiting for a girl or something, and meeting here was probably her idea.
He pulls out his phone, which appears to be an android- ugh, eye-roll… He’s also got a tattoo on the underside of his left forearm and a silver watch on his wrist. I bet he also wears Axe body spray.
Five minutes later, a beautiful brunette sporting low-cut skinny jeans, a black bralette beneath her over-sized beige cardigan, and a messy bun that one can only hope to achieve on a full moon, approaches the young man’s table. She looks about eighteen as well, though her makeup makes her look mid to late twenties.
Snap-back dude stands up to hug the brunette. The un-comfortability written on the girl’s face tells me one thing… snap-back is about to get his heart broken. I feel bad for the guy- I do… but as they both sit back down, I pick up my pen and perk up my ears, and let the character development unfold before me.
My throat is as dry as my thirteen year old neighbor’s prepubescent skin. I have a cramp in my neck, and I’m sweating, despite the lack of sun. I decided to walk to the café/bookstore around the block from my house, but now I’m feeling like I should have just taken the car. I had planned on getting there before the afternoon rush so I can sit at my favorite back corner table. I am in desperate need of character inspiration for this new story I’m working on, entitled… Well I don’t have my title yet- but the concept is there in my mind. I’m hoping today’s location choice will provide me with some potential traits for my lead.
I enter the café and make my way to the counter and order the small cobbler and their signature French peach tea. I guess you could say I was feeling just peachy today. I tried to contain my smile at my own stupid pun, but I hardly could. Just then, the petite blonde cashier flashed me a toothy grin before saying “Guess you’re feelin’ peachy today, huh?” Wow. I should have seen that coming. I give a short laugh then move to the side of the counter after she gives me my change. I sigh deeply as I take a long look around. I didn’t even think to check if someone had already taken the spot I wanted, but sure enough, when I looked all the way to my left, someone was indeed occupying the spot I wanted…dammit. I should have taken the damn car. But would that have made a difference? I mean, who knows how long she’s been here! Her sandy brown hair is shielding her face, but I can see that she is scribbling words into a journal. I also notice that she too has ordered the café’s signature French peach tea.
The girl looks up and I am able to see her profile… She’s cute. The girl runs her fingers through her hair, moving it out of her face. She then taps her pen against her lip, pensive. Just as my curiosity was beginning to get the best of me, I hear the shrill voice of the little blonde cashier say “Cobbler and peach tea!” So I turn back around to grab my order.
The tantalizing scent of the cobbler overwhelmed my senses, only momentarily distracting me from my mission- which is to find the second best seat for my afternoon literary exercise, since the first best spot has been taken.
To be continued…