There are many good places for people watching. But few places afford such prolonged instances of people listening than a baseball game. Think about it. You sit in close proximity with many strangers for anywhere from three to four hours, with only occasional demands on your attention. Because even if you love it, you have to admit that baseball is a slow game. Sometimes very little happens. So people talk.
As a writer, I need times to people listen. It helps my dialogue writing, in tone, implication, word choices and cadence. It helps my characterizations, for there are so many different kinds of people and I can learn so much about them by the things that come out of their mouths. It can also help my plotting, for you can’t imagine some of the outrageous stories people relate to each other in the midst of a crowd of strangers.
For a multi-tasker like me, that makes a baseball game the perfect activity. I can be with my husband and kids doing something they enjoy. I can appreciate the action of the game. And in the lulls, I can listen to those around me and spin out situations and characters that might someday find their way into my stories, even if only in fragments.
So will this make you think twice the next time you have a conversation in the midst of a crowd? Writers’ ears are lurking everywhere! And for me, the ballpark scores a homerun on nearly every visit!