Out and about

A Bit of People Watching

download(A Flash Fiction Writing Session from The Safe House)

This  session involves going out and about. You could go by yourself or you could go with somebody else. You could go with more than one person, if you want to.

“Don’t forget your phone!”


Go to the nearest bus station, find a seat and look around. Pick a person and, using your imagination and your phone, send yourself a text describing this person.


3 people at the bus stationThe ‘stimulus’ is a real person. If you don’t want to write about a ‘random’ real person, you could ask another person to ‘pose’ for you. If you choose this option, get the person to sit or stand in a place where you can see them and imagine that you don’t know them at all. Of course, if you choose this option, you could both do the activity on each other!


This is an exercise in creating a character. Write the description and your answers to the questions in a text. It is a fiction piece so you need to make stuff up as well as describing what you see.

Focus on one person at the bus station and write this person’s:

  • Name
  • Approximate age
  • Gender, height, size, health, voice
  • Place of birh, education, beliefs, lifestyle, habits
  • Temperament, mood, attitudes

Then, think about these questions:

  • Where is this person going? Why?
  • Where has this person been? Why?
  • How does the person feel about the journey? Why do they feel this way?

Send this text to yourself. Go home.

Word count and process

The first draft in this session is a text message. You will be using ‘text speak’ and all sorts of abbreviations so a word count is difficult to estimate. Be as brief as you can.

  • Spend about 5 minutes observing the person and making things up in your head. You could imagine that this is a bus station in another part of the world and so the person’s destination could be absolutely anywhere.
  • Write your text and send it to yourself. This shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes, but it depends how fast you can text.
  • When you get home, sit at the computer and write your text out in full. This time you should try and use standard grammar, spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, etc. You could add more detail here, if you like and also change it into the past tense so you can fit it into a story later. This should take about 10 minutes. Try and keep your description under 50 words.
  • When you have done this, spend time proof-reading for any spelling, punctuation and grammar problems and check it makes sense. Make sure you would be happy for other people to read it.
  • If you spend 5 minutes doing that, you should have been creating and writing for about 25 minutes in total. Apart from the time it took you to get to the bus station and back, of course.
  • Leave it for about half an hour and then come back and edit it one more time.

What next?

If you feel like it, or if you want some ideas about how you can develop what you have written, you could share it by sending it to The Safe House at:


Here at The Safe House we will give you feedback to support you in what you are creating!