Learning to be more observant…
So I was reading The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing and I came across a really good chapter- written by Donna Levin about, what she calls Killer Diller details.
Basically in a nutshell the advice was to write down 5 observations at the end of every day. Because as a writer you have to be observant – when you describe a suit for example (and here is showing not telling) say its chalk stripped and double breasted she says – don’t just say it’s a suit- if it’s a manky cat say it’s tail was matted not just that it was manky – I am paraphrasing here.
The level of your description is down to you but make the detail worth reading! I am one of those oblivious people that could probably walk past an elephant without noticing it. Since becoming a writer I have started becoming more observant – you do by nature- you notice how people react to certain things. And Nature – you notice how beautiful and how ugly things are. But I feel I need to be more observant… maybe because I started life with no observational skills at all. Donna Levin says to notice the things you would otherwise miss. I want to notice more because there is so much out there- as writers we are lucky – our muse’s and our inspirations are out there for free. So that is what I am going to start doing every day or maybe every other day.
Levin says that you should provide more detail if the subject is unfamiliar to the reader. I did this in Goa Traffic, but I think the description was unbalanced by too much telling. Although I have been complemented on the description… to me it feels unbalanced (now obviously and not when I was writing it or published it for that matter). I am going to notice more (which may also make the weekly shopping more interesting) and hopefully my writing will be richer for it!