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Monday, December 12, 2011

What do you notice?


This topic has been on my mind for a while. Have you ever noticed that most writers have the super power of—noticing :) I read books and think, “Wow, I never noticed that, but it’s SO true!”

Writers notice everything. I don’t know of any other job that requires such great powers of observation. Maybe a spy—maybe. Or a mom—for sure.

Here are a few things I notice:

People: I watch people. I want to see how they interact with each other. I love to see their quirks and habits. What motivates them and how can I show that motivation through their actions?

Settings: Whether it is outside or inside, buildings or nature, events or quiet moments—I notice it. What is it that makes a haunted house creepy? How can I use those same principles to make a hospital or grocery store just as creepy.

Language: I notice the funny things people say. I notice the unusual words they use. But most of all, I notice what language says about them and how they view the world.

I’m sure there are more, but these are the three I notice myself noticing :)

What about you? AWhat do you notice? Tell me. I’m dying to know.

-Angie 

17 comments:

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I try and pay attention to the way people through the world - the teen that slunks down the street as opposed to the one who struts, the meandering overweight mother with three skinny children hanging on her grocery cart - a cart full of frozen food and a bouquet of flowers - as opposed to the tired woman in the business suit, who hovers over the sample table, waiting to try a gray triangle of frozen hamburger.

Kelley said...

I notice settings. Or I find myself thinking...what would my character do if they were here? Songs and lyrics are big for me too. :)

Cassie Mae said...

My husband thinks I'm crazy cuz I'll just be sitting there, staring at nothing really, and he'll be like, are you okay? I tell him I'm lost in thought, which is true because the way that bird flew by, or that ant crawled across the ground, or the way the drops of rain scatter across the window glass makes me go into an inner monologue of how I'd describe it in a book. :)

Tara Tyler said...

on vacation is a perfect time to people watch! i notice situations, choices people make, how they interact w/each other and react to things that happen. and when i travel, ooo, new settings!

Tara Tyler said...

oh yeah, when i sub, i listen to teenspeak =)
my sons bring home new slang as well...

Melissa Sarno said...

You're right about noticing. I notice conversations. My fiance does not understand how I can have an entire conversation with him in a restaurant and, at the same time, listen word for word to what the people at the next table are saying. I'll admit. It's a skill :)

Leigh Covington said...

Absolutely as a mother! So true!

You are right. I love people watching. LOVE IT! Sometimes I feel a little psycho watching people, but as long as they don't catch me, I'm okay.

But even out in the world, nature, or buildings or whatever - noticing this that make them what they are and how to portray that in our writing is always there. It would almost be nice to turn it off once and a while, but it doesn't happen.

Melanie Fowler said...

I see you....

Just kidding. What do you think facebook is for. You can observe people. See how they differ from other people. Some tell you everything, other people have facebook to keep in touch and you rarely read silly things from them.

I'm a people watcher too though... it's fun.

E.R. King said...

I don't just like to watch, I like to discuss what I've seen with others. This means me telling my husband or mom what I've learned while observing. When the time comes to write, I remember what I saw better because I've stored it into my memory by talking about it. Repetition works for me. Otherwise, I notice it and it's gone an hour later. : )

Angela Brown said...

I love to observe things around me. The way a couple looks when they're debating then the change in body language wiht the debate is over. The mannerisms of a nearby gentlemen settling down to read his newspaper. The way certain sounds and smells make me react...because I'm wondering how some of my characters would react if they were in these different situations.

Jolene Perry said...

I love to see what people are wearing. I love to see how people react to one another.
Setting is SO secondary to me. I'm well aware this is one of my weaknesses as a writer.
BUT character will always come first, as it should.
Maybe I should start noticing settings . . .

Sara Bulla said...

I too love observing. I think it's especially telling when you can catch someone in the background. Someone who thinks they're just a fly on the wall. If I see someone shying away from others, I often have an entire story line written out in my head explaining the dramatic history behind his or her aloofness, why they leave the party early or why they are fidgeting with their napkin. It doesn't take much observing for my imagination to jump into fifth gear and go completely out of control! :) Great post, I loved reading the other comments!

Donna K. Weaver said...

Yes! And I just wish I was in the habit of writing some of this stuff down. It's a new habit I'll have to work on for the new year.

Jaye Robin Brown said...

Hands. I always notice people's hands.
Also smiles, expressions, hidden thoughts (those I create :0))
The way the wind moves things.
The sound of bees.
Winter.

It's the best part of being a writer I think. The noticing.

Patricia Tilton said...

I notice everything. Some of it is natural, but I was trained years ago as a young journalism student to see more than what most people see, hear, experience etc. I am a people watcher and I like to read body language too. I had one fabulous mentor who taught me everything I know -- and I can't tell you how my face dropped when she handed me my stories marked up with her red grease pencil. But, it was the best thing she could have done. I do think writers are more observant.

McKenzie McCann said...

I focus on the dynamics between people, how they interact with each other, body language, setting, weather (for some reason), sounds, feelings...

Wow. I am observant. I never noticed.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

I love watching people. A little too much ;) I always carry a notebook around, so if I see someone who looks interesting, I write it down. I have some fun descriptions that I'll use in my books! lol :)

I also love watching teenagers as well. Especially couples. Great ideas come from watching them.

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