I’m a big people watcher. HUGE, in fact. It’s one of the reasons I love places like New York and Las Vegas so much. They both have some diverse people and the watching is awesome. It can be a problem because I’m often caught staring and invariably people think I’m rude or just weird and I’m not sure what’s worse :-). Sometimes I’m so busy observing that I may forget I’m supposed to actually be IN a conversation. It’s not unusual for me to be in a group situation and then realize later I probably barely said a word. It’s like I go into uber-stealth-observation-mode and forget what else is around me. I like to catalog everything someone is wearing, top to bottom. I like to understand how they’re wearing their hair and why, I like to watch all their mannerisms, how they walk, hold their hands, their head. I like to see how they express themselves, what their look seems to say about their personality. Of course, if I seem like I’m checking out a hot guy, it’s not so much of an issue. I can just shrug it off, but if I’m caught watching a woman, well…let’s say I’ve had some strange looks. I don’t mean anything by it and I’m pretty equal opportunity when it comes down to it, but I’m in research mode, people!
It’s all of those little details that make up a character and provide the layers you need to make them come to life. I can’t keep writing characters with what I know and I’m sure readers wouldn’t want to continue to read about variations on the same character. I have to learn new things about people I don’t know to be able to breathe life into new, multi-dimensional characters with quirks and issues and flaws and insecurities. So yeah, I check out other women, wherever and whenever I get the chance. Perhaps I need to learn to be better at it?