Friday, 24 May 2013

Using Your Observations To Improve Your Writing

A few months ago I decided to treat myself to a book. So I popped along to the local book shop. Yes a book shop, they do still exist. I scrutinised the shelves and finally chose Your Creative Writing Masterclass by Jurgen Wolff.

As I read I marked sections with small slips of paper. By the time I'd finished reading there were a large number of such pieces of paper - a sign of a good book. In chapter 24 - It's in the details the author posed two questions:

Have you appealed to a variety of senses, described not only what things look like but also how they sound, smell and taste?

Have you selected details beyond the obvious?

These two questions urged me into action. I decided to start writing an observation diary. Basically I decided to record something 'beyond the obvious' every day. Here are just a few of my observations:

A steep hill, covered in old gnarled trees. At the base of the hill is a newly ploughed field. Almost motionless in the air, on the boundary line of wood and field a bird of prey searches for a meal. So still it looks as though an artist has added it with a quick flick of his brush.     

Four small birds (LBJ's - little brown jobs) sitting in a tree. Two of them produce long warbling chirps the other two quickly follow with short sharp chirps. They repeat themselves and I'm reminded of some boy band singing a repetitive pop song.

Humans wrapped against the cold, heads down and hands firmly shoved in pockets. Whilst canine companions ignore the damp and the cold. They eagerly sniff fence, grass and base of tree searching for the messages left for them.  

Now I know the above isn't my best work. However if I'd not forced myself to notice and make a note these observations would have been lost. In the short time I've been writing my diary I've already had two new picture book story ideas. I also have a growing library of observations that hopefully one day I can use to add a little depth to my writing.

So if you're a writer I'd like to offer the above as a tip. Perhaps your own observations will allow you to include in your writing 'details beyond the obvious.'

Blatant plug for my distance writing courses that start 6th July 2013: