Wednesday, July 8, 2015

WATCH, LOOK & LISTEN-Peggy Blann Phifer

This is one of most often asked questions writers get. And the answers can be as varied as there are writers. But the overall core answers are usually a combination of WATCH, LOOK & LISTEN!

I’m not going to shoot you a whole long list of ways to gather ideas. If you’ve ever asked this question, you’ve heard them all. You can go to Google and search for writing prompts and find 12-million sites!

I’m going to share some fun ways I harvest ideas. I LOVE watching people. Strangers, mostly, going about their daily business. Airports are great places. Before 9/11, departing travelers could be accompanied by friends or families, saying goodbye. Where is that person, or couple, going? Why are the others staying behind?

Likewise, incoming passengers could be met at the gate. Inevitably there’s a lone passenger with no-one to see him/her off, or no-one waiting at the gate to greet him or her. There’s a story behind that.

Malls are another great place to watch people. I once spent several hours at the Boulevard Mall in Las Vegas when I lived there. I had a notebook and pen and a tote bag with a few books, to make it look like I was studying or something, trying not to be obvious I was taking notes and penning questions about what their lives were like. Where they lived. Were they happy? And so on.

But my favorite place to watch people is while stopped at a busy intersection.

Case in point:
During the years I lived and worked in Las Vegas (1980-2013,) for many years the most direct route from our house on the east side to our workplace on the west side, was Flamingo Road, crossing The Strip. That intersection of Flamingo and Las Vegas Blvd was probably the busiest for foot-traffic in the city. All four corners had Hotel/Casinos. Caesar’s Palace, Bellagio, Bally’s and—at the time—The Barbary Coast.

Of course, there wasn’t a lot of time to people-watch before the signal changed, but I thoroughly enjoyed picking out a few people as the crossed in front of me and imagining where they were from, what they’d gone, where they were going. Tourists, mostly. One day–I can still see it–a man pushing a double stroller (twins?) and trying to coral an energetic 3-yr-old who kept dashing ahead. There was a woman behind the man though I doubt it was the wife because she paid no attention to the scampering little one. Thankfully, the child stayed in the cross-walk. There’s a story there, I mused.
On another occasion, I was stopped at the light heading east after work. A bright red Jaguar with its top down idled beside me, occupied by a young blonde woman. When the light changed, she shot across LV Blvd ahead of me. The vanity license plate read: WAS*HIS! I laughed out loud. Now there’s a story!

They spoiled my fun when they built the overhead crossings. No more pedestrian traffic, no more people-watching.
There’s ALWAYS a story no matter where you are or what you’re doing. Just take the time and exercise your imagination.

Peggy Blann Phifer retired from an executive assistant position after twenty-one years in the Electrical Wholesale industry. She came to writing later in life when a prayer she wrote appeared in a two-volume Guideposts Book compilation, 'Prayers for Every Need,' in 2000. She self-published her debut novel, 'To See the Sun,' which released in January 2012. Her writing has appeared in three anthologies in 2014 with Helping Hands Press, with a fourth coming up.

Widowed in October 2012, Peg now makes her home in northern Wisconsin in a home she bought together with her daughter and son-in-law. The three of them share the house with one dog, and one grand-dog. She converted a third of the house into a cozy 'apartment' where she spends most of her time writing.
Peg has three children, six grandchildren, eleven great-grandchildren, and numerous other grand-dogs and great-grand-dogs.
Follow her blog "Whispers in Purple," and on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Drop by Peg's Amazon Author Page:

No comments:

Post a Comment