In Writing Bestselling Children’s Books Chapter 5 deals with “Finding Harry” – the title made me giggle, but actually, this is a pretty serious article.
Basically, we are told be aware of what’s going on around us because most things can be used as fodder for writing. The odd snippet of conversation, a new name you stumble across in a book or newspaper, newspaper headlines, objects from fleamarkets or second hand shops…
It all serves to set the creative synapses sparking. I suppose this links in with that dreaded “where do you get your ideas from” question so many writers get asked by interviewers. I think I saw someone mention on twitter they were asked that question and promptly replied: “the supermarket” to which the interviewer asked: “oh, which one?”
Which in itself can be fodder for a story.
Most writers I know are good at watching people and the world go by. Sitting in a cafe or somewhere similar, you just draw into yourself and look and observe. The world spins you by and you are shown a whole range of interesting characters, situations and sound-bites.
I like watching people. Not in a weird obsessive way, but generally. Especially groups of friends. When watching the interaction between people it’s sometimes really easy to discern the inevitable “hierachy” in groups. Spotting things like this, it’s important to note how the “alphas” react and who the loners are and how they interact, if at all.
It’s important to observe things like this, because it helps build your characters when they interact with groups of people in your story or with their friends.
So that’s ogling people. What about headlines from newspapers?
- French approve return of Maori warrior heads
- Lebanon fires 10-tonne hummus broadside at Israel
- Call mum, you’ll feel better — and here’s why
All three genuine articles grabbed off http://ca.news.yahoo.com/odds/archive.
Writers are probably wrongly called writers. We should be called writer-observers, I think. But don’t observe too much – remember to write!