Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Power of pink
The Kiddo's hairdresser (and a friend of mine) was giving away free hair extensions today after school in support of Breast Cancer Awareness. Yes, the extensions are bubblegum pink. I hesitated for about a millisecond before I let her do it, mainly because I figured The Husband would have a heart attack. When it comes to most things, he's the Traditional Southern Dad, using the Traditional Southern Dad's motto: If my dad wouldn't allow it, I shouldn't, either.
I told the ladies at school that I might have to bum up a couch after The Husband got a gander at the hair extensions ... and The Kiddo was as jumpy with excitement as a cat in a rocking chair factory. She wanted, like any kid, to see the resulting explosions.
What I hadn't bargained on, though, was The Husband's temporary lack of observation skills. Usually, he pounces on anything different. The Kiddo danced and spun and bounced in front of him, and, while he knew SOMETHING was up, he didn't know what. Finally she just about had to point to the hot pink streaks in her hair.
He acted all cool and nonchalant about it then, trying to cover up how unobservant he'd been. It reminded me of the the trait that ALL writers must have: being a nosy busy-body that latches onto any and every change.
Now I'm not saying that nosy busy-bodies are inherent writers. I'm saying we writers need to be sure we develop that trait. Whether it's eavesdropping in Wal-Mart (the better to develop our dialogue, m'dear), or staring at some wildy-patterned, definitely What-Not-To-Wear pants (the better to dress our characters, m'dear), our powers of observation have to be honed.
One thing that mission does is make wait times far less boring. The other day, while I waited in our local Department of Labor office, I turned my attention to the scuffed walls, the various people crowded around the tables, their dress, their attitudes, the expressions of exasperation on the staff's faces. I did it intentionally, because I wanted to be able to mine that experience later on, whenever I had a character unemployed.
Don't just stop at the sights and sounds, though. My CP Tawna Fenske is great about pointing out where I can beef up my scene building with the other, less obvious, senses: smells, tastes and touch. She reminds me to layer in an almost wrap-around experience.
Of course, this could be just another writer's justification for being the aforementioned nosy busybody. Even so, isn't that its own reward?