Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Human Observation Project

So I did some brainstorming on what sort of topics would fit the purpose of this blog.  I didn’t want to simply re-serve what’s been said before.  I wanted to add a new element.  Then this idea struck me.  As writers we need to be attune to other people.  And no doubt, you make more observations of others than the average person.  This is a good thing!  Here’s why:  your writing could risk having characters who simply move about as shadowed silhouettes in your novels if you didn't.  They would be boring because they wouldn't possess any human traits, feelings or emotions.  (See series on this blog Developing Characters You Can Pinch for a more in-depth discussion)

It was in light of this aspect I thought a regular post on human observation would prove to be unique from what other sites may discuss and be useful to the writer.  Now, I haven’t decided how often I will post these discussions, although I hope to do so weekly.  The first topic I have selected to discuss is:

What?  You Don’t Think that’s Funny?

Have you ever been in the situation where someone said something you found funny, but you look to the person on your right, and even though they’re hearing the same thing, they aren’t sharing your enthusiasm?  What happens?  That’s right.  Most possibly your large grin fades, or your laughter shrinks.  Somehow what you found so entertaining seconds earlier has lost its effect.  I watched this exact scenario take place the other week.  So why the change in response - is it is weakness or insecurity allowing ourselves to be influenced by someone else or simply the human reaction to such a situation?

Most of us take pride in being independent from other people, being our own person.  But how independent are we?  Are we convinced that we don’t have any correlation to other people at all?  We may tell ourselves we don’t care what others think about us, or a certain choice we’ve made, but is that the truth?  Maybe it is to some degree, but I believe all of us have an underlying vulnerability.  Of course, that amount varies from person to person.

We could also expand on this scenario.  What about the person who says they don’t care if other people think they’re overweight, but hide beneath over-sized sweaters and baggy pants?  Or the person who says they want to be alone when all they want is company?

Perhaps this aspect of human nature could be utilized in your novel?  Creating a character who possesses the human tendency to be influenced and manipulated by others could make for some interesting conflicts and plot twists.