Daily Thought #7 – Top 5 Tips of Observation for Writers

Hello Fans, Friends, and Fellow Fanatics,

I have often heard many people talk about what it takes to be a “Good” writer.  You go to seminar after seminar to hear success stories from popular writers and a common topic is that you need to “observe” your world and write everything down that you do or see.  This is a good exercise and I started doing that during my years of Valet service, but it is a little easier than turning into an extreme introvert with your nose in a notebook all day. During my Valet job at the Airport parking cars, I ended up observing the people that come and go from different countries and ways of life in the terminal and outside on the curb; wondering what their lives were like.

It is very interesting how much you can find out about people if you just pay attention.  After several years, I picked up on patterns and didn’t have to guess on some of their lifestyle choices.  I used the power of deduction made famous by Arthur Conan Doyle’s wonderfully exemplary and brilliant character, Sherlock Holmes.  (Which has been widely spread through the recent films starring Robert Downey Jr. and  the Television adaptation “Sherlock” starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman).  This sounds more difficult than it really is.  Most of it is based on common knowledge.

For example: With a particular car, I could tell that the vehicle belonged to a family.  New parents most likely by the car seat in the back and the dings and scratching near the handles on the back two doors of the SUV.  The car seat was on the left side and there was a bit more coincidental damage to that door meaning that the Father was more involved in taking care of the children, and the Mother probably used this vehicle often.  I know that their relationship was strong and they were relieved to have a break from family responsibilities as it was just the Father and mother.  I could tell from the tires that they lived in the mountains as they were worn down but had once been covered in thick tire treads.  Not to mention the dark gray dust collected on the back of the vehicle.  In spite of the already observed damage, the car was fairly new and I made a guess that there would be roughly 60,000 miles on the speedometer.  It was 61,092.  This was all just from looking at a car.  I hadn’t even deduced anything about the clothing of this family.

So, what makes those deductions possible?  Do you have to have an extremely high intellect and ability to reason?  NO!  Absolutely not.  You just need to be able to think outside the box and play a game of scenarios, finding one that fits.

Which brings us to our first point!

1.  Don’t Just think, THINK EFFECTIVELY!


Think about the reasoning behind people’s choices.  Where do they come from?  What motivation do they have to make this good or bad choice.  What identifies that choice that they made?  Their clothes, material things, actions, words, etc?  THINK through all of the questions you can muster from yourself to really give you an interpersonal experience of being in someone else’s shoes.  It will help you find qualities that you agree with and disagree with that can be put into characters in your stories.

2. Use COMMON SENSE!  OR DON’T USE IT!  (Remember, your characters might or might not)


Sometimes, people just do things because they can.  That IS a personality trait.  It is called impulsive nature.  People often decide in an intentional choice, NOT to use their brains.  That is a part of human nature, because we are all just not with it some days.  Or are never with it.

3. Don’t Just ask WHY or What is Right, Ask WHY NOT and What is Wrong!


Characters who are rounded and have depth in their interactions see different sides of a story and as a writer, you want to portray those characters as accurately as you can.  Therefore, in a model story of a Superhero that believes in all things good and just, you have to ask the opposite questions in order to help create your villain.  Remember: having sense of connection and being able to relate to both characters gives depth to your story and shows that there is good and evil in all of us.  Makes your characters more real.

4.  Look for PATTERNS!  There are rarely ORIGINAL THOUGHTS and IDEAS or ACTIONS!


There are NO Original Story Ideas left in the creative world sadly enough, but there are unique and original ways to Approach or Personalize these ideas in a new way.  Every story arc, no matter how original you think it is with its many details or unique style, you probably haven’t read the material that the artist got their inspiration from.  That being said, there is always a new spin that can be added.  Avatar is a good example of this.  It is almost frame for frame, the story of Pocahontas, but it is told in a completely new way.

5. What is my MOTIVATION?  Why do we DO WHAT WE DO?













Awful situations happen to people and push or pull them into doing things that they normally wouldn’t do.  A man loses his family and gets thrown into a tormenting ride of pain and loss and ends up taking a path or doing an action that he never thought he would be on.  A good person goes through a series of bad experiences that affect and change them into the villain.  But on the other hand, difficult times and good times affect us in a positive way.  If we think through what people have been through and where they are coming from, then we will know where they are going and WHY they are doing a specific action or speak a certain way, etc.  When applying that to characters you create, it breathes life into them and gives them a sense of realism and make it personal to the audience.  Compassion comes from understanding what people have been through and are sensitive to that.

Think through what people could have gone through in order to be in the position they are doing.  Hopefully with these 5 points/tips, you can see a little more of your world and become more observant of those around you.  There are characters out there to be discovered!  Go and find them!

Thanks for reading this and hopefully you are a little more inspired and will be more observant in your life.

-Gearbendr Signing Out

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