One of my favorite things to do when I read is to collect character tropes. It's fun to recognize them in my own work, especially when I realize that I've unintentionally modeled them after people I know in real life!
One trope that keeps popping up in my stories is the Nosy Neighbor. I'm sure we've all come across that well-meaning but meddlesome person who peeks out of the window when you pull into your driveway or lurks by the mailbox, pretending to sort through the bills but really keeping an eye on everyone else's activity.
A few years ago, I wrote a story set in a village entirely populated by busybodies. I loved writing the scenes where they all got together to speculate about my MCs.
But I realized something upon re-reading it... and that is that I happen to know exactly which real-life person each busybody was based on, even if I didn't consciously connect that at the time. In fact, it's so obvious that if I ever wanted to try getting that manuscript published (which I don't), I'd have to change everyone a LOT, for fear that people would recognize themselves!
I have a lot of experience growing up with nosy but well-meaning neighbors. My family lived in a quiet, friendly neighborhood where the houses were all close together, everyone knew everyone else's kids' names (and practically license plate numbers), and a non-inhabitant could be sniffed out the minute they set foot in the development. It made for a very safe place to live, but definitely not private.
People knew when my dog had eye surgery because they'd peer out at me walking her in her cone of shame.
They knew when my report card came in the mail because of the look on my face when I went to get it. (Direct quote: "Your folks gonna freak out about another B, eh?")
They knew something was wrong when we dumped my little brother in the car and sped off in the dark of night (he cut himself on the lid of a soup can).
They wondered whether I was going stag to the senior prom when they saw Mom and Dad driving me off in my long wine-colored dress (I had to explain that my date and our group were all waiting at my best friend's house, where the parents were gathering to take photos).
And when my parents got divorced, and my dad moved out, two neighbors actually had the guts to approach me and my mom (on separate occasions) and ask point-blank where he was. Another one chose the beating-around-the-bush-method ("Is he away on a business trip? No? That's a pretty long vacation, isn't it?")
Maybe they were genuinely concerned, and I appreciate that, but when you're going through a painful family situation and outsiders demand the details, you do what I did - laugh with disbelief, offer no explanation, and walk away. (And then write about it in books.)
Now I think it's hilarious and Nosy Neighbors are a favorite character trope for me to read and write. They say to write what you know, and I definitely know about this!
Do you write about meddlers and busybodies? Do you know any in real life? Can you think of any books or movies that feature them?
FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS (FOTL) (Novel, YA Epic Fantasy) An exiled princess searches for the five elements she needs to win the allegiance of the dragons and reclaim her kingdom from the grasp of an evil empress.