Last month I did a post called A Study of Character: At the Park. I focused on being at the park and how watching the children and adults can make for interesting character study as they can show us the variety of emotions in a short time. I would like to expand on this topic a little and now talk about the study of character at the mall and how it can be a great way to come up with character descriptions and mannerisms for your next character.
Have you ever stopped, sat down on a bench, and just watched the people walk by you at a mall? Sure we all go to the mall. We may even notice people passing that make us take a second look. We may even stop and stare at the man in orange pants with a Mohawk and tattoos on every visible surface of the skin. But it’s the more interesting stuff that can be seen when sitting down and watching.
As a mother of a five year old boy, I find that I frequent the local parks quite a bit. In fact, it is probably my most visited location besides the grocery store since my son’s birth. In spending a lot of time at playgrounds, I’ve discovered a true writing treasure- the ability to study a wide variety of characters and the basic human condition in just an hour or two of doing my most important job of all- “being mom”.
Want to get a good glance at an array of human behaviors from antagonistic, insecure, mischievous to friendly, confident, and intuitive? Just take a trip to the park, and let this small playground world give a glimpse into the bigger world. It’s a cast of characters waiting to be plucked for a story or novel, or just to be studied to understand reactions to certain situations. It’s humanity raw with all the complexities of adulthood stripped away. It’s the simplicity of behaviors at the most infant stage. Friendships are forged in a matter of one slide down the big red twisty slide. Or witness that awkward moment when no one can agree on what to play, or personalities clash like a display of colorful fireworks. It’s all there to see for anyone willing to watch. It’s where priceless moments are created and children learn to belong, or just find out how annoying some kids can really be. But the kids aren’t the only illuminating presences at the park. Some of the most interesting playground lurkers are the parents themselves.