AS AUTHORS WE’RE OBSERVERS
The other day I sat in my chair in the living room. I’d let the three dawgs out. Since we have no dawggie door, we have to manually let them in and out. This time, Angus, the Beagle scratched first to come back in. Sometimes it’s Teddy the male Chihuahua. I became fixated on the random order in which they scratch to come back in. It’s the same when they want to go out. I wondered how I could use that in a story.
I drove to work one morning in light traffic. Though I was head of the pack, some person (couldn’t tell if it was a guy or girl) swerved around me and beat the next light. Then he/she bobbed and weaved between several other cars that had made the next light. How could I incorporate that into a scene?
I’m constantly cataloging little things like this in the back of my mind for future use. The problem right now is that I’m writing a fantasy where situations like this wouldn’t apply. That doesn’t mean there aren’t situations that do. Things like people interactions. After all, the story has to have people or there wouldn’t be one!
I’ll admit I get a lot of people interactions from movies and TV. Those, of course, are passed down from generation to generation of writers who started with someone who observed it with an aunt, uncle, father, mother, spouse, or someone they saw on the street.
I’m sitting in the bank waiting to see a specialist about something. Two other people wait ahead of me. One woman chats on her cell phone when the woman at the counter calls her name. The lady stands, waves her hand at the counter lady, but keeps on talking and doesn’t walk toward her. The counter lady moves toward her. The lady on the phone keeps talking, ignoring her. The bank lady tries to be patient but sees us watching and eventually getting annoyed. Looks like something with potential for a scene!
As writer’s, we’re observers of everything around us. As I’ve mentioned in a past article on inspiration, we draw what inspires us from many places. Besides the big stuff, the little details that add color and spark to a story come from what we see every day, what we can adapt to make our created world more real.
Even in my fantasy world, the interaction of my characters, whether human or Elf or Dwarf or Snorg all have quirks that might be inspired by real people, adapted for the world of Meleena. Then there are creatures with no human traits whatsoever. Pure animal or monster. In those cases, I might pull traits for them out of the air or from other animals I’ve observed somewhere. My license to stretch the reader’s disbelief.
Your story is a reflection of what you observe. It must be realistic enough to draw in your reader (with a few exceptions). The whole point is to take your reader on a journey into the world you created. By adding in details you observe in your daily life and adapt to the story, this world becomes more realistic.
As a writer and eventually author, we’re observers of all things.