Occasionally, my family feels the need to point out that I, as a writer, see the world differently than a “normal” person sees it.
Most recently, my son and his friend were working up a real-world zombie game, Darker Days. The premise is that you are at your buddy’s house gaming when the Zombie Apocalypse occurs. You have to survive with only what you have in your location and with the skills you currently possess. As the nerd herd crowded into my kitchen for lunch, one of them poked my son in the side. “Why’s your mom watching us all so closely?” “She’s just figuring out whose going to be the first to go.”
Sigh. I’d be annoyed except for the fact that he was right. The reality is that you’re going to need a certain skill set to survive. If you don’t have great survival skills, you better have rock solid charisma or something else that people want to keep around.
Butt heads with someone else and I may very well explain it to you in writing terms. “I know he made you mad, but almost no one is a villain in his own head. Figure out the story where he’s the hero and you’ll be able to work this out.” When I don’t think someone is telling me the whole story, I look for subtext and back story.
And then there are all the times that I start scribbling notes because someone has said something inspirational. My son? He is a fountain of teen-talk. My current favorite? Voluntold. “He was voluntold to help us out.”
Yes, writers have to be observant, taking in details that many people would simply walk right past. But, in time, many of us come to see the world a bit differently than “normal” people.