Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Observation Lab

My husband and I went to a comedy club a couple nights ago. It was fun and I remember thinking about the comedian's material afterward. I wondered where they got it and what happened in their lives to make them create a bit around that event. Then I realized that it's the same thing with writers. Comedians use their lives, the people around them, stories they hear on the subway, and family anecdotes to create their comedy. Writers use the same things for their work.

Which means that writers and comedians all have to be pretty observant so they can pick up on these little things. I need to be more observant. In fact, I just have to put myself in more situations to be observant (not much happens around my house all day). You have to live to be able to write. And you have to hone your observation skills, along with your eavesdropping skills. Have an exercise:
Set 5 minutes to just sit and observe - the people around you, your quiet house, the conversations, the smells, sounds, sights that are going on around you. After your 5 minutes, write what you experienced. Write all of it, all the little details.
How did you do? It's amazing how much you can come up with from just 5 minutes of observation. Although it's not always prudent to include such tiny details in your work, it's always good to at least know what those details are. They have a way of coming out in the end through the choice words you use and the scene you set.

What did you observe today?

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