Whilst in our local book shop purchasing a few Christmas presents last year I decided to treat myself to a book on the craft of writing. The book I chose was Your Creative Writing Masterclass by Jurgen Wolff.
Now for me the sign on a good non-fiction book is the number of pieces of paper slipped between the pages. By the time I'd finished reading this book it had a large number. One highlights Chapter 24; It's in the details. Two of the questions posed in this section resonated with me:
- Have you appealed to a variety of senses, described not only what things look like but also how they sound, smell and taste?
- Have you selected details beyond the obvious?
These two questions urged me into action. I decided to use one of the many diaries I'd received as a gift as an observation diary. Basically my aim is to observe something 'beyond the obvious' every day for the next year and record it. So far I've managed to achieve this goal. Here are just a few of my observations:
Now the snow has fully melted the mud is back. Listening to the squash, squelch, slurp of the mud I have to decide. Do I let the inner child enjoy the sensation and the sounds? Or do I let the inner adult force me to walk along the very edges where the ground is drier and safer?
Piles of brown leaves, huddled around a tree trunk still lie in the shade. Most of the hard frost from the night before has gone but it still outlines their veins.
A large flock of pigeons cover a field, all busy scratching for food. I'm reminded, for some reason of a dot-to-dot page. I wondered what picture would emerge if I joined those dots.
The above isn't fantastically written. However if I'd not forced myself to notice and write them down, they'd be forgotten and I'd never have the chance to include in future stories.
Another plus is that in the short time I've been keeping this diary it's already given me two new ideas for picture book stories.
To finish this post I'd like to offer the above as a tip. So if you have a diary hidden away unloved, dust it off and create your own observation diary.