Putting Writers on Notice: What’s Going On?

Have you noticed what’s going on around you lately?

It’s fall.  What are your characters doing that shows your reader the change in season?  Are you still sheltering your hero within the walls of his office and home so the reader has no idea where he lives, or what’s going on in his life?  Or is he driving through town catching the aroma of leaves burning?  Is he stopping before he closes the front door to grab a jacket?  Is he shoving his tingling hands deep into his pockets to escape the unexpected chill of evening?

When your heroine races into the restaurant on her lunch hour, is she appropriately dressed?  Is she a fan of fall, or is she pining over the demise of summer?  Is she still wearing her flowing, summery skirts, shivering but determined to hold onto every beam of sunlight she can find?

It takes a certain amount of attention to the things that happen in our own world to build a believable world for your characters.  And that means being aware of everything, all the time.

Standing in line at the bank gives you time to study how people react to the change in seasons.  There’s the elderly gentleman who shuffles in, leaning on his cane, his movements stiffened by the early cold spell.  His bones signal every drop in degree, so he’s added a heavy jacket to his worn denim overalls.  His summer straw hat has been replaced by a snug felt cap.

The mother at the front of the line is in a smart sweater set.  In the doublewide stroller, her twins are fascinated with the soft, fuzzy outfits they sport, plucking at the yarn, trying to pull it into their eager mouths.

A teenage girl texts madly while waiting for her boyfriend to cash a check from his summer mowing business.  She’s donned jeans, in place of her usual shorts.  But a four-inch glimpse of belly peeks from the gap between her stretchy top and those jeans.  A stiff breeze could blow her right off her towering platform boots.

Her boyfriend sports his baggy khaki shorts and thin tank top as if daring the chill air to nip his flip-flop clad toes.

In the foyer of the bank building, an employee is creating a fall tableau, with bright orange pumpkins and crackling, dry corn shocks.  Her eyes are red and watering from seasonal allergies.  She sneezes so often and so hard the corn shucks fall out of the careful arrangement, stirring up more dust as they smack into the marble floor.

Our world overflows with details and information that fuels our imagination.  We add richness to our stories, with each added layer of details.  And in doing so, we ignite the memories and emotions that draw our readers completely into the pages of our books.

So what have you noticed at the bank lately?  Leave a comment and describe it in rich detail.