Writing Prompt: Inspiration from Observation (a Posh Man and a Red Scarf)


March 7, 2013 by Nichole Eck

Alright, everyone, here’s your first writing prompt! It’s based on yesterday’s post about observation and is short enough that you can put your response in a comment below if you feel so inclined.

I’m interested to see what ideas you come up with!

What’s something you noticed this week that you might use in a story someday?

Here’s my response to get you started:


Red-Scarf-Around-22per (Photo credit: notanartist)

At the train station this morning, I passed a man who had a sharp haircut, a nice black coat, a leather briefcase, and this ratted red scarf that was looped twice around his neck but was so thin that it didn’t even cover half his neck.

I actually laughed out loud when I saw it (yes, now you all know that I’m a terrible person, but at least there was a window between us, so he didn’t hear me). What’s the point of wearing a scarf that doesn’t actually do its job and keep your neck warm?

But then I thought, maybe his little sister made it for him for Christmas. Maybe his son did. Maybe it’s a scarf from his childhood that he considers a lucky charm and is wearing because he has an interview today. Who knows?

One day I’m going to write a character who wears something that seems to clash with his personality or career or whatever but that actually speaks volumes about what’s important to him or her.

What have you recently seen that inspired an idea for your writing?

Comment below!


5 thoughts on “Writing Prompt: Inspiration from Observation (a Posh Man and a Red Scarf)

  1. jameseck says:

    The other day at a work lunch I sat across from a guy from marketing. He was a pretty cool guy, but he had this quirk that every time he said anything he would look around at everyone to see how they were reacting.

    I thought it would be an interesting quirk for a character who is insecure, possibly a minor character looking for the approval of the other characters.

    • nicholeck says:

      I’m pretty sure I do that at work meetings occasionally! Still, it’s a great detail you can use later when you’re trying to show that a character is insecure instead of just telling it.

  2. KevinLaRoy says:

    There’s a guy at work who is rather confrontational. He is resistant to change and pretty vocal about not wanting to follow through with any of the commitments that upper management lays down for him. Yet, the affectation that sets him apart is that he always follows up with “Just kidding,” or “I’m just giving you a bad time.” I thought this would be the perfect example of a passive aggressive character that is confrontational, but really just has a bark that’s worse than his bite.

  3. LeAnn says:

    My Ruzzle Muscle

    The moment I noticed this tiny observation, I knew I wanted to write about it. I made the transition from dumb phone to smart phone a couple of weeks ago. Shocking how instantly it absorbed itself into my life and daily routines. I was waiting for my daughter at her piano lesson. I picked up my phone to play ruzzle (a quick moving word find game similar to boggle.) As I moved to push play and start the game, I noticed my arm muscle was sore. Not achingly so, just sore like there was a muscle that wasn’t used to being used that had been used. A lot. At least lately. My ruzzle muscle. I laughed and was both disturbed and amused simultaneously.

    I began to wonder what other muscle twinges people had that indicated new entries into their lives. Hamstrings so sore from the new trainer, you can’t sit to pee without just falling onto the toilet. That’s a big one, like other invasions of exercise into our lives. But I’m talking little ones. The sore spot just above the elbow from the way you hold the baby and tilt the bottle just so. The twinge of hand muscles when a boy moves from xbox to playstation. The sore gluts from your favorite Just Dance IV video. I want the specifics. What got sore when you started driving? Which games caused which muscle spasms? Any of you have stories?

    • Looq says:

      That’s an interesting line of thought, I like it. I instantly thought of Sherlock Holmes when I read this. The sort of barley noticeable twinge that only someone keenly observant would pick up on. It would be a great little plot-point for a detective story.

      I can’t say I personally have an stories quite like this, but your comment about the xbox did spark a memory in me. I remember when I first bought my new xbox I had a little trouble getting used to the controller. You see the new one was wireless, and I had been so used to the forced movements required from my wired controller. For example If I ever moved seats while I was using a wired, I would have to be careful not to pull the wire out so I would move my body around my controller, holding it static in the air; or if I walked past a friend I would be careful to step over their wires; I even got into a little habit of flicking the controller to straighten out the wire: all these things a continued to do after the change to wireless, to the amusement of onlookers. I know it’s not quite muscle pain, but it is muscle memory and I thought it carried over nicely.

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