Potential Characters Everywhere

In The Writer November 2011 edition, Carolyn Roy-Bornstein tells us “I am a writer. Choosing to view the world in scenes. Seeing all of humanity as a cast of potential characters.” She goes on to inform us that she prospects conversations for subtext, keeps her ear to the regional ground, and remains alert for local flavors of dialogue. That, she says, is her gift to her students. She explains that it is a unique view of the world that all writers share.
A few weeks ago I was out at a charming little italian restaurant that was overflowing with customers waiting at the bar and standing in the lobby area waiting for tables to clear. Despite the thirty minute wait that was frustrating the other patrons, I took advantage of the opportunity to observe the way people dressed, the things they said to one another in conversation, and even the make- up of the clusters of people who had gathered there together. Young business men in suits sitting with middle-aged women dressed professionally in Nanette Lapore suits. An elderly grey-haired man who used a cane to get around laughing along side a young man dressed in a flannel shirt and jeans. Could they be father and son, I wondered. Was the group in business suits there after a long hard day at work- did they all work for the same company? I moved my seat over just a bit so I could listen more closely to the content of their discussions. Somewhere in there, in the middle of all of that chit- chat and bantor, there was a story and as a writer, I was determined to dig deep and find it.
If I was not a writer I doubt I would have paid much attention to the animated chatter around me and instead, I probably would have been like the rest of the people waiting- watching the clock tick as they waited inpatiently for a table to clear.
Being a writer has a way of bringing the world into focus in a positive way, turning every day life into intervals of lessons that dazzle us as they teach. And all of humanity, as Ms. Roy-Bornstein pointed out, becomes potential characters who entertain us, amuze us, teach us and inspire us. Perhaps there is something in their mannerisms, attitude or in their conversations that could lead to a story or add to a story already in process.
And so, next time you are sitting in a restaurant or standing in line at the store, keep in mind that the person next to you (possibly with the notebook and pen in her hand!) may just be silently interviewing you for a part in her next tale or spying on you as you reprimand your children (and possibly your spouse!) or as you talk on your cell -so you might want to put on a good show while you’re there.

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