Archive for August 5, 2014


Reading as a writer, I am constantly in awe of details ‘good writers’ see in their characters. The emotions, mannerisms and body language, to say nothing of physical description, bring a writer’s characters off the paper and strut before you, and let you hear them speak when the tone of their voice is described. One of my favorite details, which I have seen a few times is: ‘His mouth smiled, but that smile did not reach his eyes.’ I can truly say that, in real life, I do not know if I am capable of detecting that emotion.

I’ve always thought of myself as more of an observer than a participant in this complex existence, but I’m beginning to find that my observations are lacking in detail, not adequately fulfilling my writer’s needs. I working on remedying that flaw, but can it really be corrected? Can your level of observation be actively increased or is it just something you’re born with?

To bring a character to life, the writer must have a clear picture of that character in his head, both physically and emotionally. The better the writer is able to accomplish this feat, the better the story. I’m in the process of struggling to slow the act of writing down, to expand on the details that bring the character to life. I tend to rush my writing and concentrate more on plot and action. I now seek a more balanced approach between character and action.

While recently watching a documentary by Ken Burns about the life of Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain). I’m sure PBS will provide ample opportunities for you to view it if you missed it. I highly recommend you watch it. One comment that struck me was how Clemens spent years observing the world around him and the people populating it long before he knew he would become a writer of fiction. For example, he would notice whether a man had his hands in his pocket or not, and what the contents of those pockets probably were.

August 5, 2014 at 7:21 pm Leave a comment


August 2014

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