Writing: The Art of Spying


Do you like people watching? I love it. I’m one of those nosy types who sit in café windows so they can watch the world go by. My coffee will go cold but I’ll sip it anyway, just so I can stay another few minutes.

If you’re OK with being a nosy parker, its a great writing exercise. Take a look at someone standing with a group of friends or sitting alone and write what you think they might be feeling or thinking. Write about what they’re wearing, what the items of clothes mean to them. Write about where they’re possibly going or where they’ve been.

That’s the beautiful think about writing – you can make up anything you want. And who knows where these little descriptions might fit.

Don’t edit either. There’s time for that later! When the first draft of your novel, story or poem is complete.

Here’s a short extract from the chapter I’m working on at the moment. I saw this girl in a shopping centre but decided to give her a brief cameo in Central Library in Manchester, one of my favourite places.

There’s this girl looking at a sign by the stone staircase. She’s got a red dress on and these black biker boots that come up to her knee, studs glitter in the leather like stars. I wonder what it feels like to be her. I imagine her getting up in the morning and choosing what to wear. In my head, she chooses the red dress because it’s her favourite – she likes the way the skirt flares out like the petals of a flower when she spins – and she’s got a date later with this really cute boy in her English class. She puts the boots on because she knows it’s supposed to rain but she doesn’t mind though, she likes the way the boots look with the dress. They remind her of these wellies she had when she was a kid and, now, every time she walks down the grey Manchester streets, she walks straight through the puddles like she did when she was little. Sometimes she’ll splash about a little, but only when no-one is looking. Before she leaves the house she takes a look in the big mirror, the one at the bottom of the stairs, applies some lip gloss and smiles. Her first class of the day is poetry or something like that. She looks like she’d like poetry.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s