Thursday, February 4, 2016

People Watching - A Writer's Hobby

by Sparkle Abbey

If you haven’t heard, Iowa was quite a big deal this week. According to the NBC evening news Monday night, the whole world watched as we were the first state to caucus for the next president of the United States. We’re not sure the whole world was watching our state, but we were certainly watching the folks around us.

As writers we love people watch, looking for something that might spark an idea for a character or storyline. The clothes someone is wearing, a subtle hand gesture or facial expression, a speech pattern, any and all of that can inspire our characters.
Photo: Laura Arenson

There’s no doubt about it, we hit the jackpot of people-watching this week. At their core, people are fascinating. And we have to tell you, folks are enthralling when they’re crammed in a hot, stuffy auditorium, passionately trying to convince the room-at-large to vote for their candidate of choice.

There are a few people who literally thumped their chest in emphasis, others who shared heartfelt stories of how a candidate had personally helped them, moving listeners to tears. There were some who were so relieved to be surrounded by like-minded people for the first time in months they radiated relief.

There were a couple of young twenty-something girls who caught our eye. Or more accurately, our ears. They chatted excitedly, heads together, giggling about how there were so many good-looking single men in the room. Men with jobs. They plotted how to snag a picture of a good-looking guy on stage who was about to make a speech. Within seconds, the tall blonde pulled out her cell phone to capture a quick photo of the “hot guy” under in the guise of recording a woman’s impassioned speech. Somehow, those twenty-somethings will make it into a story.

All thanks to the Iowa Caucus, we’ve collected details this past week and have refilled our pool of creative ideas. What about you? Where do you people watch?

Sparkle Abbey is the pseudonym of authors Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter. They write a national bestselling pet-themed mystery series set in Laguna Beach. The first book in the series Desperate Housedogs, an Amazon Mystery Series bestseller and Barnes & Noble Nook #1 bestseller, was followed by several other “sassy and fun” books in the series. The most recent installment is Downton Tabby and up next is Raiders of the Lost Bark.


  1. I can't say I've ever had the pleasure of such a lively scene as the Iowa caucuses, but wow, were you lucky! I bet there was almost too much of it to take then, that wealth of material. This was a fun post, that's for sure...and useful to your writing in the future. Say, did anyone bring their pets to the caucuses?

  2. No pets that saw. There were a number of children though. Don't you just love people watching? It's great fun!

  3. I love people watching, but I generally like to park myself at a cafe or a restaurant. What a great experience it must have been to be at the Iowa caucuses.

  4. I'm more of a people listener. Restaurants and my coffee shop/bookstore/office are favorite venues. Sometimes I sit and write blog posts about what I'm hearing. The conversation in the booth behind me at a restaurant recently was downright embarrassing; I wanted to turn around and suggest that the young lady lower her voice (which carried far and wide). That one won't make it into a post. Probably not a story or a novel either, though if fixed up a bit, the general situation could make a good scene.