What is observation?
We see real scenes in life every day, but seeing those scenes isn’t detailed observation. It is casual observation; a glance, for example.
I believe that true, detailed, observation as a writer is deeper. It is this detail that we must employ in our writing; in our imagery. Now I suppose you’d like an example … well, okay then.
Let’s take a strategic military operation; the observation post, or OP as it’s called, manned by two soldiers.
Why is it called an Observation Post?
It evolves from the fact that the people involved are not just ‘watching casually’, or if you like ‘seeing’ the scene ahead of them. They are observing the scene. To truly observe something – not just ‘see’ it, we must stare, concentrate, and examine it. Let’s continue with the men in the OP.
Example 1. The two men could send a message that they saw; a few tanks and a couple of helicopters, with a whole load of troops standing in nearby woodland. It’s a vague report, but it’s what they saw.
Example 2. The same two men could watch closely, or observe, and then report; six main battle tanks, one light reconnaissance tank , two personnel-carrying helicopters and four attack helicopters, plus a full infantry battalion, battle-ready, in the woods.
Where does this come into writing, and imagery?
Let’s apply a similar strategy to a brief scene. You’re having a coffee and watching the world go by, making notes in your notebook, thinking of your latest story. Right before you, a scene opens up and you want to record it for later. One of the following is written by somebody who simply looks at things, but the other is written by somebody who ‘observes’ closely.
Example 1. Two men crossed the road to the car and jumped in. The vehicle drove off immediately.
Example 2. It was noon, when the two men ran to the red pick-up. Smoke was drifting from the exhaust. When the ski-masks were removed, I noticed one man was dark-haired and bearded, while the other was bald. The vehicle raced out of town towards the east.
Okay, it’s not too exciting, but imagine if it was in a story. Which of those two styles would create interest for you as a reader?
If any one of you suggests Example 1 in either of those two cases above – go back to ‘A’ and start reading again. LOL
Thank you once again for putting up with my way of looking at things. I’ll see you on my blog patrol again later, and then I’ll be going for a ‘P’ … for my next post of course.