Mon. Nov. 12, 2018: Friendliness – How Many in a Day? #UpbeatAuthors

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Monday, November 12, 2018
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

 

One of the exercises I often give my students is to track how many people they interact with in a single day.

This came out of a series of exercises supposedly set in cities that lacked any sense of the teeming life that is so much part of a city. Like the apocalypse happened, and I didn’t get the memo. If you set a scene in Times Square, I want to know, where are the people? It’s full of them, twenty-four hours a day. Even if your scene is an intimate one between two characters, someone is going to bump into them as they chat on a cell phone or laugh with their friends. Without other people, you lose the sense of place.

In the exercise, each person takes a small pad and a pen and makes a hatch mark for each person encountered in the course of the day. Whether you say anything to them or just pass them on the street.

The last time I did the exercise, I was staying in a suburb of New York, took the train in to Grand Central, attended an event at the New York Public Library, worked on a Broadway show, went out to a restaurant, and took the train home.

Interaction count for the day: 587.

Five Hundred and Eighty-Seven people in the course of a single day in New York City. And I probably missed a few.

I don’t ever want to read a scene set in that city that doesn’t have an awareness of the sheer amount of humanity in a small space again.

What does that have to do with friendliness, our topic of the month?

Try this: Pick a day this week or next week, but sometime sooner, rather than later.

Make the effort to smile at every person you pass in the course of your day. Even if you’re an introvert.

Jot down notes during the day.

What kind of difference did it make in your day?

Take a moment to think about what kind of difference it made in other people’s days.

Now, again for writers, think about how you can translate any details of any of those interactions to your writing.

How does that change the life of the piece? How does that change your characters’ experience?

How did meeting everyone you encountered with friendliness for one day change your experience?

Build on that. In fiction, and in life.

Feel free to post the results of the experiment here, or in response to any of the Ink posts.

Published in: on November 12, 2018 at 6:30 am  Comments Off on Mon. Nov. 12, 2018: Friendliness – How Many in a Day? #UpbeatAuthors  
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