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  1. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Do You People-Watch?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by cutecat22, May 11, 2014.

    Not that I'm a peeping tom or a pervert or anything, but yes, I love watching people out in the open, the general public. People intrigue me. The reasons they do what they do.

    There have been a couple of occasions where I have seen someone doing something and instantly thought "oh, my character would soooo do that!" And then I've gone home and written it down.

    So, do you take things from real life or do you write purely from your imagination?
     
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  2. shadowwalker

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I love people watching. Malls, airports, bus stations, waiting rooms - even at work.
     
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  3. nhope

    nhope Contributing Member Reviewer

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    I do, how can you not? More tho for what they look like, because they pretty much act the same. I also check out grocery carts. And when my grandson and I are out walking, recycle bins on trash day. I really like to listen to their conversations. There are some strange happenings out there.
     
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  4. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    I'm really glad it's not just me!

    I often think (as I like to write fiction that has a realistic tone to it) that if I've seen it happen, it's easier to write.

    Obviously most of my writing is from my imagination but it's so nice to see something happen in really life that would suit your characters. The instance above was when I was on a train, it was the way two people were stood together that intrigued me.
     
  5. peachalulu

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I definitely people watch. You can only cull so much from your personal life and sometimes the people around you have done so many of the same things over the years you fail to recognize them as interesting details. Looking at fresh people really helps - mainly because you don't know there agenda.
     
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  6. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Shamelessly and endlessly.
     
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  7. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's a good way to redeem the time on a boring job.
     
  8. Bjørnar Munkerud

    Bjørnar Munkerud Contributing Member

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    I do it ironically and self-consciously when I happen to end up in a café by myself. I don't have the need, interest, money or time to do on any sort of regular basis. I love it, but it can get a bit boring after a while as well, and, at least at the moment, the one thing I'm definitely not lacking is inspiration, so I'm almost avoiding it to stay focused on the topic at hand.
     
  9. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i've always been a people-watcher... since earliest childhood, actually...

    i'm pretty sure all serious/seasoned fiction writers are people-watchers...
     
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  10. A.M.P.

    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Contributor

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    I work in a mall so yeah, I people watch. A lot.
    Mostly their clothes interest me, so many nice unique styles or just plain interesting cultural garbs.
    Good source of inspiration for new ideas.
     
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  11. 123456789

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    This confirms the obvious. Everyone is watching :eek:
     
  12. Komposten

    Komposten Insanitary pile of rotten fruit Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I also watch people (I think we're starting to see a trend here), but not that much. I tend to spend most of my time thinking, and thus not seeing. My thoughts revolve around all sorts of things, be it anything useful or not (most likely not).

    Listening, though, that is another beast entirely.
     
  13. T.Trian

    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yup, I do it all the time. It's a great way to pass the time in the bus/train, when you're out and about etc. I also try to "read" people, trying to decipher as much as I can from their looks and behavior.

    When I look at men, I usually look at a few specific things: what are they wearing? Does it look good? Would it look good on me? Are they taller/skinnier/more muscular than me? More handsome? Do they have a better haircut? Yeah, I'm kinda Patrick Bateman-y in that regard. :D

    I also look at what kind of footwear they're wearing. Are they trendy? If so, are they brand shoes or some cheap or obscure brand? Are the shoes practical, e.g. work boots, combat boots, hiking shoes etc? You can guess quite a few things from what kind of footwear a guy wears.

    When I watch women, I actually look at them in a very similar way as I do men (except I'm not repulsed by their bodies), i.e. are they tall/skinny/athletic? I also look at their clothing and footwear for a few reasons:
    Just like it is with men, what a woman wears, can tell a lot about her personality and values, perhaps even more so than with men, since women have a much wider range of socially acceptable outfits, from very feminine to pretty much all the same outfits that men wear.

    The amount of skin that a woman displays also gives hints about what she might be like as a person: how confident is she? Is she desperate? Does she wear her own size or does she wear outfits a few sizes too big or too small?

    And when it comes to body types, well, the ladies are catching up, but aren't quite there yet: it's still more common to see semi-athletic men (e.g. guys who play football/hockey or go to the gym a couple of times a week), so seeing a relatively fit guy doesn't tell you that much about him whereas if you see a muscular girl (I'm not talking about the thin, sinewy kind, but the bulkier variety), it's far more likely she's a dedicated athlete: not only is it harder for females to build muscle mass, but being muscular, for a girl, is generally still not acceptable, not even today in 2014, so chances are she's truly dedicated if she's willing to face all the ridicule and insults and still keep training.

    The last thing I look for when I look at women might be a bit off the beaten path: I often look at them and wonder whether I might have looked like them if I'd been born a girl. Or I wonder if they look like what I would've wanted to look like if I was a girl. I also often look at their outfits/haircuts/possible make-up and think if I would've worn something like that if I'd been a girl.
    A part of it is because about half of the main characters I write are females of various ages, personalities etc, so I spend a lot of time in their heads and observing IRL girls and women, how they look, behave etc. gives me a lot of ideas and inspiration, especially if I see something out of the ordinary.

    I guess humans are just interesting creatures even in all their stupidity. :pop:
     
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  14. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I mostly observe men 'cause that helps me to write them. How they talk, walk, gesture, the way they do their hair, or dress, or even smell like (I don't like smelling people in general, but men are constantly bashed for smelling bad, so I need to collect hard evidence, lol). And no, it's not because I think men are aliens and oh-so-very different from women; I just think there're subtle differences. Like how two guys in the cafeteria always go to sit opposite each other while women sometimes sit side by side too. Or how women at my workplace hardly ever greet me while men are a lot friendlier even though I myself treat women in a more friendly way.
     
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  15. T.Trian

    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Gee, I wonder why? ;)

    Then again, I've also noticed that generally I get a better response from women while men usually tend to be a little... well, bitchy, for want of a better word. Maybe it's as simple as straight people often preferring to interact with the opposite sex?

    When it comes to sniffing people, I smell both sexes for the same reason that I look at them: to gather information, but in the case of men it's only to find out if there's booze in their breaths or if they smell like shit or some such that would imply that I ought to keep my guard up in case it turned out to be a more volatile individual. Unfortunately, some men reek so bad that it's kinda impossible to exist in the same space and not smell them...

    And yes, having gathered tons of evidence of the smells of both sexes, from the locker rooms and public bathrooms, men just take a beating in the odor department. Sure, the air around the occasional hippie girl may get a little ripe, but even that's nowhere near the worst-smelling dudes I've encountered. The only individuals who have smelled so horrible that I've developed an acute desire to flee have always been men.
     
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  16. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The cafeteria at my 2nd workplace is actually an interesting place for people-watching as there're people from pretty much all social classes. There are the white-collars with their ironed suits and too much cologne, the undereating female sales reps sighing over their friends' baby pictures, and then there're the hopeful, starry-eyed twenty-somethings convincing themselves "this is just a temporary job", and then there're the scruffy, muscle-bound and/or pot-bellied men and the odd butch (why always butch?) woman from the terminal/warehouse in their neon vests and work boots. I tend to get ideas for looks from them, and sometimes pick a mannerism or two, like a really high, cutting laugh or some such.
     
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  17. thewordsmith

    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Watch? Oh, hale yeh! As a theater major in college it was a part of the curriculum, really. We were required to keep a journal of 'people watching'. If you really pay attention, you will notice that, although in some ways all people do, really act the same, in others, everyone is unique even in how they act the same! It made me realize that I've pretty much been a people watcher all my life. I've always studied what people do and tried to figure out why. What is the motivation?

    A bowl of candy on a counter - people will grab a snack or two without thought until the bowl gets close to the bottom and then, almost as though following a script, people stop grabbing for those last few candies. Then a few others feel compelled to take them but will inevitably make a joke or comment about no one else taking them. Things like that will make me curious about that 'what makes people tick' question.

    Even before school age I can recall watching how other people (the 'grups') interacted with people - children as well as other adults. Perhaps it is part and parcel of the defective gene that makes me a performer, stand-up comic, writer... the curiosity about the human condition and how people can be so much alike and yet so very different both in their physical mannerisms as well as their personal conduct and mentality. What's behind how one person declares "I don't care who you go home to at night. I'm just interested in your integrity quotient" and then there are people like Donald Sterling who loves only two things: money and himself. He will tolerate 'lesser' human beings as long as they have something to offer him.

    People are such curious creatures and that is why there will never be an end to stories to write about them.

    Oh. Sorry. Short answer: Yes.
     
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  18. thewordsmith

    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Beautifully put!
     
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  19. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Have you ever got caught people watching?

    I have a small problem with my eyes, I have slightly larger than normal pupils which means I can't cope with bright lights very well so I have two pairs of sunglasses. A dark pair for the summer and a more translucent pair for winter and rainy/dull days which makes people watching sooooo much easier! :)
     
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  20. Komposten

    Komposten Insanitary pile of rotten fruit Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Sun glasses are the best spy-ware ever. :cool:
     
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  21. T.Trian

    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Very rarely. I usually catch people staring at me (making me think I have a badger on my face or something).

    For a while I've had mirror pilot glasses and I wear them almost all the time when I'm not at home, so usually people don't see my eyes. I pretty much only take them off for lectures, doctor's appointments, the movies, while doing sports, eating at a restaurant etc, but they stay on even at the grocery store. The nice thing about them is that they aren't very dark, so I can see well with them even while I'm inside or it's cloudy outside.

    And yeah, they're excellent for spying on people. :cool:
     
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  22. Garball

    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    I was watching this freaking idiot in the mirror the other day and realized he was watching me back. We must've had the same effect on each other because we both left at the same time.
     
  23. Estelle Gryphons

    Estelle Gryphons New Member

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    YES!

    multiple times... and they all asked me to stop staring; quite embarrassing really! but none of this has stopped me from continuing to people watch.
     
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  24. Nooshi

    Nooshi Member

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    Yes, all the time. I used to work at McDonalds: that, my friends, is the best place for people watching.
     
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  25. Kekec

    Kekec Member

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    I like to eavesdrop. It is less conspicuous than watching, though sometimes a dialogue may get interesting enough for me to look at their body language. But after years of doing it, now I only listen to one kind of people because there is always something different to hear from them, while the other kind of people really has nothing interesting to say. For the record, I'm being vague in order not to be offensive.
     
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