People Watching at Its Best

Need a boost for your fictional characters?IMG_7501 2to3

by Andy Scheer

Last evening, I almost wished I was working on a novel. I had the opportunity to gather plenty of ideas for potential characters—with traits I’d have been challenged to invent.

My wife and I drove to the Denver airport to pick up family members arriving from London. We had plenty of time to watch people, as we stood for an hour outside the international arrivals door before ours cleared through customs.

Clustered outside the gate were nearly a hundred others, each with their own backstories. Some stood in clusters of friends or family, others stood alone. Some bought welcome signs, bouquets, or balloons. One pony-tailed man in his sixties, wearing hiking-style clothes, held high a letter-sized sheet with someone’s name—printed so lightly I couldn’t read it from a few feet away.

Finally, passengers began to emerge. The business people came first. Wearing office casual, they pulled a single carry-on and a briefcase. Then came the couples returning from vacation. A few had packed lightly, but most hadn’t Some stayed close. Other times one spouse led and the other lagged. Was this a longtime pattern or had something happened in London? An observant novelist could easily decide.

I couldn’t have invented it, but it just might fit into someone’s novel.

My favorite was a young man in business attire pushing an overloaded baggage cart—that included a boxed bicycle. The bicycle, perched across the cart, wouldn’t fit through the double doors. He tried to angle it through. The cart tipped and a half-dozen bags spilled—as  those watching from a distance groaned. Several minutes later, after he negotiated a reloaded cart and bicycle box through the second too-narrow double door, people cheered. He took a bow. I couldn’t have invented it, but it just might fit into someone’s novel.

Need ideas for characters, their backstories, or their quirks? Visit the international arrivals gate.

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About Andy Scheer

With more than 30 years in publishing, Andy Scheer has provided freelance editorial services since 2010. He has edited fiction and nonfiction for publishers including Moody, WinePress, and BelieversPress, as well as for clients including Dirk Cussler, McNair Wilson, DiAnn Mills, Heather Day Gilbert, and Sammy Tippit.

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