While taking a stroll with my husband in a small Vermont town, a man, who appeared to be middle-aged, rode his bicycle slowly past us over small amounts of snow and ice from a recent storm. Catching my attention, I noticed he was wearing a hat and coat—appropriate attire for winter—but he was also wearing worn tattered pajama bottoms and his socks had fallen into his shoes exposing his legs. Appearing thin and frail, it looked like he hardly had enough strength to pedal. Still, he continued to move forward to some unknown destination.

Immediately I was captivated. I wanted to know more about him. Did he live alone? Suffer from an illness? Was he struggling to provide for himself? Did he even have a home? And where was he headed to on such a cold and windy day?

I am sharing this because it’s a great example of what goes on in a writer’s mind. Writers are always observing everything around them. And sometimes they create characters and/or stories from these brief observations.

My husband and I continued walking. A few minutes later, I noticed the man’s bicycle parked outside of the town’s library. More thoughts entered my mind. Maybe he was checking out books to read? If so, I wondered what kind. Or maybe he didn’t even know how to read and only wanted a warm space, a bathroom, and possibly a free cup of coffee before continuing on his journey.

I’ll never know all of the details about him, or even know his name, but that’s okay…it’s fun to just imagine and create it all. That’s how fiction is formed!

(Honesty, an observance like this can occupy a writer’s mind for hours…even days!)

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  1. I once wrote a short story about a woman I saw every day on my way to work. The story was about wondering about her life! So true that we do this!

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