One Minute Writing Tip: #5

Observation As A Writing Tool.

This tip registers on a scale of Zen. By that I mean, learn to observe your own behavior and the behavior and speech patterns of others. This can have many layers, from the auditory and visual to the psychological, intuitive, sensual and spiritual. The more you practice this one the more you’ll learn. Take notes as you see fit.

Observing the behaviors of yourself and others is a tremendous resource. Some screenwriters I’ve known even turn on a television (or movie) and intentionally leave the room to listen to patterns of speech or tempo to improve their ability to write dialogue. You might also go to a cafe and eavesdrop on conversation or record some.

This one is a little tricky because as far as I know there’s no app or organizational software for archiving these observations. So get resourceful. It’s not about invading anyone’s privacy, this is an exercise in learning about human behavior, in the field. It’s a never ending discovery. This is especially true if you add compassion to the mix.

You might find, for example, that a personality type or character exhibits a pattern or rhythm of speech. Do they have a speech impediment or maybe they had brain surgery that left them with a delay in response time. Do they exhibit signs of dementia? Are they high on drugs?

People tend to dress according to their occupation or belief system. What does their attire telegraph about their mindset? Are they well groomed? Malnourished? Do they display a propensity or aversion to tattoos? This can suggest a lot of things to you about them. Do they have facial tics or tells? Good. Write those down and what triggers them.

All these are valuable to enriching your writing. Cultural and spiritual background is another big source of data.When working on a project, keep notes on the things in life or imagination that pop out. Visual and audio communication is more powerful than even the best dialogue.

I hope you’ll start taking your innate powers observation seriously and sharpen them as time goes by. It’s guaranteed to improve your writing. Try it! You won’t be disappointed.

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