One way to help with writer’s block is to observe and write. This exercise can help beat the slump in your own story by examining and writing a paragraph or two about something going on around you. It can also help to reflect a natural flow of events in a narrator’s point of view if you’re stuck. If want to give observational writing a try, follow along with us to learn about how to execute this way of writing effectively.
First, pick your topic. Whether it is something you’re comfortable with or if you want to challenge yourself, pick a destination where you can travel to and sit with your notebook in hand. Your goal is to watch and write. The world has so much to offer your writing abilities.
Second thing to keep in mind is choosing your writing tense. The most common way to write an observation is through the present tense. The present tense makes it easier to keep up with the flow of events as they happen. You may not be able to catch every word someone says in conversation but you may be able to see their mannerisms in conjunction with being alone, interacting with familiar faces, or meeting new people.
The third and more obvious tactic while observing is keeping an eye on crucial details. Every writer knows detail can be your best friend and worst enemy all at the same time. In observational writing, it will be your best friend. Without detail being described in the moment you are watching your future reader won’t be compelled to sit down with you. They’ll feel like that person walking by a window to a store, peering in quickly but still passing by; they won’t see the details you’ve managed to capture because you didn’t take their hand and lead the way into your point of view.
Going off of the details aspect, a fourth idea to keep in mind while writing should be utilizing your senses. We mentioned the importance of details but incorporating your five senses may entice the reader to feel like they’re sitting right there with you even more.
The fifth and last on our list (but certainly not the least) is bringing back some old high school creative writing techniques: comparative techniques. Comparisons, simile,s and metaphors are just some ways to mirror and describe the events unfolding before you. This helps more types of readers become involved in your writing. It definitely does not hurt to revisit your old creative writing class from high school or college to refresh your brain a bit. Hm, that sounds like a future ‘Back to the Basics’ post!
The best way to emphasize emotion in dialogue is to throw one or two (or 800) exclamation points into your manuscript or text. All joking aside, you realistically only want to use this point in moderation. Using too much of a good thing becomes dramatic and we want your writing to create the drama, not the punctuation. It’s always good to know when to use this magical point that effortlessly invokes emotion in the person speaking and in the reaction from the receiver:
- At the end of a sentence:
It should never be followed by a period or question mark. Some, if not most, writers use the question mark paired with the exclamation point to bring light to an exclamatory question. We hate to burst your bubble on this one, but you only need one or the other.
- In the middle of a sentence:
As always, if a quotation ends in an exclamatory manner, I know I would usually throw in a comma to continue the sentence. Lo and behold, the comma is not necessary in this situation.
- As a part of a titled work:
Use the comma when the title of a book is yelling at you…this is the only time!
This week’s lesson is short and sweet and straight to the point, but wait… there’s more (or there was more)! Did you know there is a punctuation mark combining the question mark and the exclamation point? It’s called an interrobang. The interrobang came and went as quickly as you turn the page of your favorite novel, but sometimes we think we should bring it back!
Laurie Halse Anderson:
“Write about the emotions you fear the most.”
“You can fix anything but a blank page.”
“You don’t write about the horrors of war. No. You write about a kid’s burning sock lying on the ground.”
“Always be a poet, even in prose.”
Jolly old Saint James Patterson has returned this holiday season to grant 300 booksellers and owners with a well-deserved holiday bonus. For the last three years, Patterson has donated money to indie booksellers, in hopes of getting more books into more hands. Information to send in forms for bookstore and sellers can be left on the website. As the forms come in, Patterson, himself, reviews the possible candidates on a one-on-one basis. To be considered, the bookstore must have a children’s section and the business must already be in business and be successful.
In 2014, Patterson teamed up with the American Booksellers Association and gathered over $1 million to the first round of recipients. In 2015, he gave $250,000 in bonuses to 89 employees – which was the same dollar amount he gave in 2016 to 149 employees. This year, Publisher’s Weekly confirmed Patterson increased the amount by $100k to $350,000 – giving away bonuses to 300 bookstore employees, especially those who have been affected by hurricanes and wildfires in the past year.
Patterson has even been quoted saying, “These bonuses are my humble acknowledgement of [booksellers’] commitment to putting books into the hands of readers, and I hope these grants make that possible.”
During this holiday season, we want to thank James Patterson for helping those who genuinely enjoy their careers to continue doing what they do, as well as help young people get their hands on the books they deserve.
“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”