What Did You See?
By Cait Collins
How good are your powers of observation? If you were surrounded by group of people at the mall or at a concert, would you be able to describe the person in front of you, behind you, and on either side? How would you describe a child that broke free of his mother and is now terrorizing the zoo?
Observing the people around us is essential for a writer. If we don’t hone our skills, we could miss vital elements for our work. Let’s say you are standing in line at the bank. The teller is calm and helpful. Transaction completed, the man walks away without looking the folks in the line in the eye. The police and FBI agents question you. Would you be able to tell them the color of the suspect’s hair? His race? Height and weight? What he was wearing?
It should be easy to identify the person standing in line in front of you, but you are drawing a blank. Even with the detective feeding you hints you are unable to pick the robber out of a picture array or a line up. You know you saw something important but you just can’t remember it. You’re not alone.
Trust me, you are not alone. Several years ago, I was the person in line behind a bank robber. He was so cool I didn’t suspect anything. As soon as he walked away, I stepped up and set my deposit bag on the counter. The teller excused herself and rushed to the back. A few minutes later, one of the bank officers came out and shut down her station. He directed me to the next line. Then he announced the doors were being locked and we must wait until the police spoke to us and released us. All I could tell the law enforcement officer was the robber was short, had dark hair and was wearing some type of work uniform. Not really good on my part. I was too busy making a shopping list in my head to notice there was a problem.
My suggestion is to go to the mall, find a comfortable spot and indulge in some serious people watching. What you observe may make for a great character or plot twist for your current project.