People Watching #8

Have you done any people watching lately? The first time we looked at Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. Then we examined a 1930s Charles Walton photograph. After that, we speculated about the dynamics of two girls and a guy at the dinner table. Then we viewed the bicyclist in a race and people traipsing through a winter snow. Then we soared with a young man flying a plane and eavesdropped on two chatting women.

As usual, I loved reading your comments—the ideas evoked by those pictures. The backgrounds, personalities, and situations of each person.

Aside from knowing that a picture is worth 1000 words, a picture evokes 1000 stories.

If I showed a picture to a dozen students and told them to write a story based on it, I got a dozen unique and varied responses.

If I did this with 1000 students, guaranteed, they’d each have a different combination of character interactions, dialogs, motives, and plots.

As I’ve said before, I revel in this creative diversity. We each inherently have this innovative ability because we’re made in God’s image. See “Chickens at the State Fair.” Whether you’re a story writer or not, your own creativity can shine with a little people watching.

I know it’s spring, but I love this picture of a lovely fall day . . .

Courtesy Elmer Sparks Photography

What story is being suggested?

Take a few minutes to immerse yourself in this picture. Then think about these questions. There are no right or wrong answers! You’re calling the shots.

You can choose to answer the questions in regard to both men or just one.

(If you happen to know who these men are, pretend you don’t!)

  • Who are these two men? What are their names?
  • How long have they been here? Has one been here longer than the other?
  • How well do they know each other? Are they close friends? Acquaintances?
  • What are they talking about?
  • What is the one handing to the other?
  • What meaning does that object mean to either or both of them?
  • What are they thinking?
  • What are their moods?
  • What is the setting (approximate time, date, and place, besides in a park by the river)?
  • What is the tone/mood/atmosphere of this particular day?
  • What has led up to this day?
  • What are their personalities?
  • What are their key character traits?
  • How long will they be here?
  • What are their relationship dynamics?
  • What is a typical day like for them?
  • What do they aspire to?
  • Where do they wish they were instead? Or are they happy to be here?
  • What is the title of his story?

So many story possibilities! All in one picture.

So . . . how would YOU answer some of the questions above about this picture?
What story do you see unfolding?

I welcome your comments below!

Ever musing,


6 thoughts on “People Watching #8

      1. They are brothers visiting their favorite fishing spot from childhood. One is showing the other a treasure of a find – a lucky fish lure they lost long long ago.

  1. What a great photo! I think they are trying to work out the intricacies of a smart phone 🙂
    You know what else might be fun for an advanced writing group? (or anyone wanting a creative challenge)
    Assign a certain genre—use the picture as a starter for science fiction, or comedy, or tragedy, or espionage or action adventure. Could be a blast to compare!

    (Sorry I didn’t see this delightful post earlier. It got lost in the flood of mail I get every day, even though I try to unsubscribe from most of them. That could be another story starter in the horror genre 🙂 )

    1. If they’re trying to figure out a Smart Phone, they might be standing there a long time!

      I love that genre idea! I think I might have to incorporate that into one of my fiction writing classes.

      I can relate to having a horrific flood of emails.

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