M. B. Weston’s Writing Diary: 09/02/15 – Observing Life’s Details Can Improve Your Writing

Observing even the smallest details that surround you in life can help add color and spice to your writing.

I haven’t done one of these in a while, and I’m trying to start back up. If you have ever attended one of my writing workshops on description, you may have heard me say, “Your world needs to haunt your reader.” The world that you have created, including the landscape and folklore, should stay with your reader even after she puts the book down. Infusing your story with rich sensory details can help you accomplish that goal.

I’m currently vacationing in the Smokey Mountain area of North Carolina, and I have enjoyed a few hikes in the woods (as much as I can in my 3rd trimester). 
So many of my stories, especially those in the Elysian Chronicles, take place in the woods. I “put on my writing hat” so to speak. As I walked through the forest, I tried to pay attention to the sensory details surrounding me with the hopes of improving my stories. Here are a few things I noticed:

  • The forest has sounds. We all know this, but actually being in a forest reminded me of how many sounds it has. Wind moves the trees and leaves. Birds sing–a lot. And the insects! Some sound like crickets, constantly chirping. Some swarm. I realized that as often as I have written about bird noises, I rarely talk about bug noises.
  • Woods have tree roots. These make excellent character-tripping devices. 😉
  • Spiders live in the forest, too. Not only do spiders bite, but they weave webs–often across pathways. (Guess how many webs I ran into today?) Adding in little details such as running into spider webs can create tension, comic releif, or both.
  • The trees in the Smokies grow close together. This doesn’t really matter for most people, but my Elysian Chronicles characters are angels. (I call them cherubians.) They have wings, and I must take their wingspans into account when I write them. My characters would not be able to fly in this forest. Upon that thought, I realized just how unique my RSO’s are. They feel comfortable fighting in the woods–even when confined to the ground. This realization gives me several paths to follow in future books.
  • Only certain animals pose a threat to cherubians. A panther or tiger–a beast that sneaks up on prey, would be more dangerous to an angel than a bear who usually announces its presence. An angel can fly to escape the bear, but can’t escape a surprise attack. I started thinking more about creatures that were dangerous to angels, and I think I have one to two new types of scary monsters I can bring in to a new story.

A two mile hike gave me loads of new material for stories because I tried to pay attention to details I normally miss. It’s a good lesson for all of us to pay attention to the world around us as we pass through because the little details make out stories feel real and end up haunting our readers.

How about you? Have you ever noticed something in your daily life that you can apply to your stories?

About M. B. Weston

M. B. Weston is an award-winning fantasy, pulp, young adult, steampunk, and paranormal author. Her attention to procedure and detail gives her works an authentic gritty, military feel that takes an adventure tale to the level of a true page-turner. Weston’s writing attracts both fantasy and non-fantasy readers, and her audience ranges from upper-elementary students to adults. A gifted orator, Weston has been invited as a guest speaker to numerous writing and science fiction/fantasy panels at conventions across the US, including DragonCon, BabelCon, NecronomiCon, and Alabama Phoenix Festival. She has served on panels with such authors as Sherrilyn Kenyon, J. F. Lewis, Todd McCaffrey, and Jonathan Maberry. Weston has spoken to thousands of students and adults about the craft of writing and has been invited as the keynote speaker at youth camps and at several schools throughout the US.
This entry was posted in Description, M. B. Weston's Writing Diary, The World of Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to M. B. Weston’s Writing Diary: 09/02/15 – Observing Life’s Details Can Improve Your Writing

  1. rhunsinger says:

    Reblogged this on rrhunsinger and commented:
    This is a great reminder piece for writers. Environment plays into your story just like any other character.

    Liked by 1 person

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