Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Sharpen Your Observation Skills

In a few days, I’m traveling again and I love to take a few quiet moments in the airport and people watch. Do you? It’s always fascinating and I can always learn something from the observation experience.

Throughout my work day as an editor and writer, I’m fairly isolated. I have my computer screen and my office environment. Otherwise it’s my own projects and not a great deal of interaction with others.

What are you writing? Fiction? Then you need to sharpen your observation skills and build those observations into your characters. 

During the last few days on Right-Writing.com, I added an article from Laura Backes, Editor of The Children’s Insider about the Secrets of Great Characters.  Part of her article says, “If you want to write convincing characters, I think it’s essential that you observe children of different ages close up. Make that children who aren’t your own; kids you can look at objectively. See how they interact, how they treat each other, how they treat the adults in their lives. Grown-ups have different purposes to kids at various ages, and the adult characters in your books should fill their appropriate roles. Each year of growth brings dramatic changes, and the division between boys and girls in social situations gets wider by the month. As a writer, you can’t simply increase the age of your characters by a year without reflecting numerous transformations that year brings.”

Laura’s words are true for the children’s writer—but also true for fiction and nonfiction. Whatever type of writing you are doing today—it will usually involve storytelling.  The great magazine writing involves telling a good story and showing a “character” or a person to the reader in your writing. It’s a challenge for each of us in our work as writers and editors. One key is to work at learning more each day and continuing to grow in your writing. 

I’ve got more to say about this aspect of storytelling—but it will have to wait until another day. Soon. 

1 Comment:

At 10:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous Left a note...

I like to observe adult's behaviors better then children. Usually when I listen to them tell about their childhood I can then observe children's behaviors and make more sense in what I have to say. The adult acts and behaves according to what worked for them while they were growing up so I think they carry a lot of their behavior through the majority of their life. It's easier for me to make a connection with others with that kind of thinking.



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