Faces In The Crowd, A Fiction Exercise

Random Words

Writing & Writing About Writing

In the post Big City, The Errant Moon daydreams about passersby. Two tradesmen become supervillians. Policemen being polite to tourists are really scanning for stalkers. That woman? Well, you’ll have to click over to see what she is about to do.

I was impressed – and a bit cowed – by that much gratuitous imagination being flung about. I’m so flipping literal. Great for journalistic accuracy. Less great for flights of fiction. Despair. How will I ever write a novel without that kind of creative thinking?

Well, if it doesn’t come naturally to me, maybe I can get better with practice. So, I went to a local mall to stare at people.

The dude filming his grandson on the Zoo Scoot is a cover for recording entrances, exits, security cameras, etc.

The woman at the eyebrow kiosk doesn’t care that there is no traffic. She is writing her novel.

The three women with babies are lesbian sister wives.

The guy walking along staring at his phone just found out that he won $500 on a Las Vegas bet.

The angry-looking, goth chick is coming off 24 hours as a NICU nurse and just wants to pick up a package of clean underwear for the laundry she doesn’t have time to do and then go home & go to bed.

The man walking about with a spray bottle and janitor gloves and a belt of keys is a sociology professor doing a study on labor perception in the retail setting. He will return tomorrow in suit and tie holding a clipboard and posing as a survey taker.

The carousel used to be a dead drop but 30 year old spies on the ride by themselves were too much of a giveaway. It never pays to be cute in international espionage.

The freestanding TV crawl has embedded subliminal advertising. But no one looks at the surface ads long enough to receive the subliminal messages. #poorplanning

Office workers overlooking the atrium play mall bingo: woman with double stroller, 6 or more teens in one group, a kiosk making a sale. Some squares are harder than others. If you win three times in a row, you have to take an advanced card the next time.

The man in multi-colored leggings lost a bet.

The man in multi-colored leggings is a dancer with a visiting ballet troop staying in a mall hotel. He is making a Starbucks run for the troupe’s artistic director.

I found it easy to go negative, i.e. robbers, undercover spies, etc. Once I realized this, I tried for positive spins.

I fell into copying TEM instead of being original, i.e. robbers, novelists. I tried to stop.

A famous book about first impressions, or possibly about marketing, tells of a study wherein a man in different sets of clothes asks for money in a subway station. Wearing a suit outperformed the other clothes by a large margin. He was assumed to be a businessman who didn’t have change for a token. (This was before subway cards, ubiquitous ATMs, and/or paying with your phone.) One person even gave him a copy of the paper to read on the train. I think that is where the janitor/suit came from. I remember the study but am having trouble recalling the book it came from … it’s a well known book … it’s right on the tip of my fingers … Google has failed me … it’s … nope …ring any bells with anyone?

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

6 thoughts on “Faces In The Crowd, A Fiction Exercise

  1. I call bulderdash on your lack of creative thinking, I’ve read your stuff and besides which, gratuitously flung imagination (thank you very much for that one 😌) might be great for fantasy and sci-fi but fiction needs literal accuracy otherwise everyone speaks as if they’re stuck in the last century and you get gapping plot holes where a mobile phone would have fixed everything. Being able to take what’s real and accurately translate that into an engaging narrative is the surest foundation to good fiction – and you’ve already got that.

  2. Those of us without cell phones wouldn’t have been able to fix anything, LOL. Everything you’ve shared in terms of fiction – well, in terms of everything – has been great. I look forward to reading your posts every morning.

  3. Unfortunately, what I want to write is fantasy & science fiction. It’s what I read. Maybe I should skip the re-imagining of the universe gambits and stick with the magic-is-among-us/urban fantasy sub-genre.

    Compliments. Thank you.

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