I'm sat slap band in the middle of a busy shopping centre at the end of a very busy Friday - I'm staring at random passers-by and subconsciously working out their histories, presents and future from the few seconds that they glide by. Some look my way curiously, wondering why I'm staring back creepily wide-eyed. Others don't even register my existence and move along with their day.
My silent stalking session only lasted about ten minutes or so - but it got me thinking about possible novel ideas and what fresh new characters I could introduce. It may have made me look like a weirdo sat still on a bench for ten minutes with two big Wilko bags containing four sacks of rabbit hay - but stalking jokes aside - it seriously is a very productive way of generating inspiration for possible characters and scenarios.
1. For example; older woman stomping by in knee-length leather boots could be a desperate social-phobic, clutching onto her youth and afraid of stopping and taking a break, in case fatigue would catch up with her.
2. Another example would be an elderly man; struggling to walk properly - perhaps due to underlying medical issues such as arthritis or multiple sclerosis. He feels like he wants to stop and take a rest, but pushes himself on stubbornly.
Now let's take the older woman and put her under the microscope a little bit here and delve a bit into her history. Let's say her name is Margerie. Dear old Margerie could have lost her husband - Aldric (?) in a freak motor boating experience a year ago. She would have gone through the normal process of loss and bereavement - with a twist. Margerie could have been so distraught and very self-aware that she herself was getting on in her years, that she decided to buy a full new assortment of clothes and pick up those knee-length boots in a keen attempt to feel younger and alive again, despite the urge to give up and give into her loneliness.
For the elderly man who I'll nickname as Bill, he could have just come from a very recent Doctor's appointment that confirmed that Bill in a few years, would no longer be able to walk properly and would need the use of a wheelchair to get around, eventually even losing the ability to use his leg muscles indefinitely. Bill could have heard this and become absolutely confident in himself that he would never become such a liability to his loving wife and children. Let's say he makes himself a daily schedule - a walking schedule. Bill walks half hour to an hour a day to strengthen his leg muscles - before returning home back to retirement.
Two characters - very different backgrounds and issues. Both of which as the reader, you would instinctively want to know more about them and where their paths are heading. Naturally, you would want a happy ending for whatever character you can 'connect' to most.
However I will leave these two stories unwritten and let you decide their ultimate fate and what endings you would be most comfortable and satisfied with, in your own interpretations. But if I could simply sit still in silence and watch two completely random and unconnected strangers pass by me, whilst making up their histories and scenarios in my head, there is simply no limit to what imagination and inspiration can achieve.