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Fascination with People (1 Viewer)

Taylor

Friends of WF
I'm not sure this post is in the right thread but I believe it has to do with character development.

Now and even before I started writing fiction, I have this habit that I cannot control. When I see people together, I try to figure out what the relationship is between them. I watch them surreptitiously to see if I can spot a gesture or look that indicates their connection. It doesn't have to be a couple, it can be any number of people and of all ages. Of course some are easier than others, so I find myself seeking out the less obvious groupings.

I don't know why I do it. But I have long since stopped trying to control it.

Does anyone else have any obsessions or habits that involve watching strangers?

Do you think it's because we are writers?
 

indianroads

Staff member
Board Moderator
I think an author's interest in other people are key to good character development. Of interest to me are gestures and speech patterns - and about their lives in general.
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
Does anyone else have any obsessions or habits that involve watching strangers?

Nice try, FBI.

No but seriously, it's super important. You can tell writers who pay attention to people by reading their work. Even a few lines of weird dialogue or unrealistic action/reaction can absolutely be enough for me to want to stop reading.
 

Taylor

Friends of WF
Nice try, FBI.

No but seriously, it's super important. You can tell writers who pay attention to people by reading their work. Even a few lines of weird dialogue or unrealistic action/reaction can absolutely be enough for me to want to stop reading.

Haha...my mind was not there!

But I know what you mean about unrealistic action. My husband hates watching movies with me because I'm always doing a running commentary on the characters and if what they are doing is believable, and how their actions may be foreshadowing. I usually figure out the ending early on and blurt it out...which really pisses him off.
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
I'm not sure this post is in the right thread but I believe it has to do with character development.

Now and even before I started writing fiction, I have this habit that I cannot control. When I see people together, I try to figure out what the relationship is between them. I watch them surreptitiously to see if I can spot a gesture or look that indicates their connection. It doesn't have to be a couple, it can be any number of people and of all ages. Of course some are easier than others, so I find myself seeking out the less obvious groupings.

I don't know why I do it. But I have long since stopped trying to control it.

Does anyone else have any obsessions or habits that involve watching strangers?

Do you think it's because we are writers?


I don't so much watch strangers and wonder about them as I ponder overmuch on people I have actually encountered. But I wouldn't say I do that because I'm a writer; I'd say I am a writer because I do that. I'm often slightly perturbed by people I don't have a connection to. Most people I can get a general feel of their personality (I suppose I might gush that yes, I am rather quite empathic actually ;) ) so when I get someone I can't fully read or form a sense of, someone from whom I am quite different, it really throws me for a loop. But then, lying awake at 1AM last night, I realised: I could simply invent personalities for them. Of course then I'd have to forever interact with the fictionalised version of them - robots, serial killers, whatever. But, and in the absence of being able to actually find out who they are, it would be preferable to this interminable never-knowing. For a while. I dunno. People can be exhausting.
 

Taylor

Friends of WF
I don't so much watch strangers and wonder about them as I ponder overmuch on people I have actually encountered. But I wouldn't say I do that because I'm a writer; I'd say I am a writer because I do that.

Good answer!

Most people I can get a general feel of their personality (I suppose I might gush that yes, I am rather quite empathic actually ;) ) so when I get someone I can't fully read or form a sense of, someone from whom I am quite different, it really throws me for a loop. But then, lying awake at 1AM last night, I realised: I could simply invent personalities for them. Of course then I'd have to forever interact with the fictionalised version of them - robots, serial killers, whatever. But, and in the absence of being able to actually find out who they are, it would be preferable to this interminable never-knowing. For a while. I dunno. People can be exhausting.

Do you think when you find yourself in this situation, you could try to be less empathetic and more curious?
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
Sometimes people make assumptions. My friend had five children, so was quite an older mum when she had the last. She still wasn't prepared for the woman who bent over the push chair and asked "Hello, out with Granny then?". Ouch!

My partner dislikes my habit of talking to the wrong people. You know those people that nobody makes eye contact with, well I look straight back at them and then engage. They are quite often as boring as normal people, but every so often they are really different. I have never understood why people feel threatened by the poor and the dropouts of life, they are the ones who can't cope, it's easy to deal with them. The ones to watch out for are the very rich and successful, they are the ones who get others doing things they didn't want to before they met them.
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
Do you think when you find yourself in this situation, you could try to be less empathetic and more curious?

I probably should. But it can be hard, because with such a person, it's as if they are throwing off quite defensive, difficult, almost confrontational vibes that are hard to cut through. It's a bit like trying to be cold even though the sun is blazing hot. It wouldn't be so hard if I could just say 'oh that's not them, that's just me' but historically these first impressions and gut reactions have been borne out, so I tend to have a lot of faith in them. Again whether that's me influencing them by my reaction or not, or whether that's just my view, is hard to say but the net result is this same quite fractious mindset. Curiosity demands a more calmer mindset imo, or at least one that is less on the back foot. The best approach for me is to top that energy level with something more positive; humour, joking, high spirits, enthusiasm etc tends to work and bring them out a little, but there I have to be in the right mindset for that too, and so it goes on. If I don't get results with people fairly sharpish it's a bit of a hard sell to convince me to put much more work in (which is probably terrible. And I'm absolutely challenging that - I'm actually going to send out unreciprocated Christmas cards to people this year! :O)
 

Terra

Senior Member
Several years ago I discovered street photography, and spent almost every Saturday with my camera (not the one on my phone) at the Market Square in my little city. The best advice I read about street photography was to find a seat and sit while the world passes me by, and take pictures of what crosses my path rather than moving around to find the picture. I learned how to watch people and capture what I saw on film aka a memory card;) I use this same advice when I'm in a group gathering with strangers, family, friends, and customers - my career over the years has been in customer service. Be still and observe, using all my senses including intuition and imagination.

I also love going to restaurants and coffee shops with my laptop to write, although it's been months since I've done that (sigh) ... I am SO ready to get back into the world again ... anyway, I eavesdrop and create stories using the tone of person's voice (without seeing what they physically look like), or a comment I hear, and so on. My most memorable coffee shop experience was observing a group of older farmers in an urban-type coffeehouse. I wasn't close enough to hear what they were talking about, but oh man, they were having FUN which became the inspiration for a 'story poem'.

Humans are amazing and as a writer (and photographer), I think it's pretty cool to have a billion or so resources at my fingertips.
 

Taylor

Friends of WF
I probably should. But it can be hard, because with such a person, it's as if they are throwing off quite defensive, difficult, almost confrontational vibes that are hard to cut through. It's a bit like trying to be cold even though the sun is blazing hot. It wouldn't be so hard if I could just say 'oh that's not them, that's just me' but historically these first impressions and gut reactions have been borne out, so I tend to have a lot of faith in them. Again whether that's me influencing them by my reaction or not, or whether that's just my view, is hard to say but the net result is this same quite fractious mindset. Curiosity demands a more calmer mindset imo, or at least one that is less on the back foot. The best approach for me is to top that energy level with something more positive; humour, joking, high spirits, enthusiasm etc tends to work and bring them out a little, but there I have to be in the right mindset for that too, and so it goes on. If I don't get results with people fairly sharpish it's a bit of a hard sell to convince me to put much more work in (which is probably terrible. And I'm absolutely challenging that - I'm actually going to send out unreciprocated Christmas cards to people this year! :O)

I could be completely off base, but when I read this it makes me think of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicators (MBTI). And your description, "It's a bit like trying to be cold even though the sun is blazing hot", makes me think of introverts, ISTJs, ISFJs and INTJs. And your desire to bring them out with humour and enthusiasm leads me to believe you may be an extrovert, ESTP or ESFP.

Your description also reminds me of my sister and my relationship, being that she is an ESFP and I am an INTJ. Our communications were often difficult as children and even more so in early adulthood. Then coincidentally, we both had to take the Myer-Briggs test for work. Suddenly, it all made sense! We accept that our communications styles are very different, but not for any fault, just inherent nature, me being cool, calculating and based in fact, and her being warm, emotional and based in feelings. Now we get along so much better.

Introverts tend to be slower in coming to conclusions, and they like to analyze things. So when you experience it as defensive and difficult, they may still be processing the situation, and they don't like to be pushed, hence why they may become confrontational. Extroverts process information faster and get their energy from interacting with other people, which may be why you feel the urge to "bring them out".

I learned through my studies of MBTI it's normal for people to have different communication styles. There is a ton of really good literature on this if any of it rings true for you.

IMO, whether it's MBTI or not, I think the key to not feeling so exhausted with people is to accept that people communicate differently with varied amounts of what may be perceived as energy or coolness. And it's ok! No need to adjust their or your energy level.

Hope this helps! :)
 
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Taylor

Friends of WF
Sometimes people make assumptions. My friend had five children, so was quite an older mum when she had the last. She still wasn't prepared for the woman who bent over the push chair and asked "Hello, out with Granny then?". Ouch!

My partner dislikes my habit of talking to the wrong people. You know those people that nobody makes eye contact with, well I look straight back at them and then engage. They are quite often as boring as normal people, but every so often they are really different. I have never understood why people feel threatened by the poor and the dropouts of life, they are the ones who can't cope, it's easy to deal with them. The ones to watch out for are the very rich and successful, they are the ones who get others doing things they didn't want to before they met them.

Bravo...I love people like you!

My brother-in-law is a large burly man. He used to be a Outward Bound scout leader for inmates. Can you imagine being alone with a bunch of inmates in the woods? But he always sees the best in the misguided and downtrodden folks. He has a way with them too, makes them feel accepted, when perhaps they have never felt that before. I've learned a lot from him.

However, your partner has a valid concern. There are times when wayward folks can be dangerous. It takes courage to do what you do.
 

Terra

Senior Member
I could be completely off base, but when I read this it makes me think of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicators (MBTI). And your description, "It's a bit like trying to be cold even though the sun is blazing hot", makes me think of introverts, ISTJs, ISFJs and INTJs. And your desire to bring them out with humour and enthusiasm leads me to believe you may be an extrovert, ESTP or ESFP.

Have you heard of the Enneagram nine personality types? My daughters recommended the system to me a couple of years ago, and it's quite an interesting system to understand the self, and relationships with others. This may have digressed a bit from your original thread, but your comments to bdc piqued my interest even more to the thread.
 

Terra

Senior Member
I could be completely off base, but when I read this it makes me think of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicators (MBTI). And your description, "It's a bit like trying to be cold even though the sun is blazing hot", makes me think of introverts, ISTJs, ISFJs and INTJs. And your desire to bring them out with humour and enthusiasm leads me to believe you may be an extrovert, ESTP or ESFP.

Have you heard of the Enneagram nine personality types? My daughters recommended the system to me a couple of years ago, and it's quite an interesting system to understand the self, and relationships with others. This may have digressed a bit from your original thread, but your comments to bdc piqued my interest even more to the thread.
 

escorial

WF Veterans
Peopke who want you to move out of their way...sitting close to you...talking loudly...begging hotspots..there so many
 

Taylor

Friends of WF
Have you heard of the Enneagram nine personality types? My daughters recommended the system to me a couple of years ago, and it's quite an interesting system to understand the self, and relationships with others. This may have digressed a bit from your original thread, but your comments to bdc piqued my interest even more to the thread.

No, I hadn't heard of it...looks interesting. We'll see if the moderators allow it, but I think as long as we discussed with respect to fascination with people and trying to figure out what makes them tick, I think it's relevant to the thread. I'd imagine, one could apply these types while observing strangers. Certainly it would help at least to understand how you react to strangers you meet, if you know theyself.
 

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