From NaNoWriMos via Billy:
Be a People Watcher!
If you want to be a good writer there are two important things you need: First you need a good imagination, and Second you need to be observant about the things going on around you.
Here’s what I want you to do for this exercise! Go out someplace, maybe a bar, a restaurant, or a coffee shop. Any place where you can sit down for a good amount of time.
Look for someone that looks out of place or interesting to you. (For example, the other night I was with some friends at a bar and there was a girl sitting at a table at 1am working on her laptop.)
Now that you have your person, spend some time trying to figure out who they are… Chances are that you will be wrong, but that doesn’t matter! You aren’t chronicling their life, you are just being a writer. If you’re feeling brave, you can interview the person and ask what they are really doing, but I think the impact of the story is better if you just go off on a whim. Use your imagination!<
When you find a person that inspires a good idea for you, write your short story about it: Who are they? Why is this person there doing whatever they are doing?
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This also reminded me of a discussion we had last November about writing in public where we briefly touched on the importance of people watching and learning from real life things outside of your personal experiences. :)