Sunday, April 17, 2011

Observations - 2011-04-17


Sunday, April 17

Today, I wish to look at the subject of observations. As a writer, I try to observe what is going on about me. I look for something that when placed in my work helps make my writing seem a bit more real.

I’ve heard that the truth is more fascinating than fiction. So, we as writers tend to mix a truths in with our fiction. Writers tend to pull from experience to build stories and adding a little more detail, I believe, can make a scene seem more real.

To do this, I tend to observe things, events, and sounds. I make note of them and see if they would fit in any of my stories. Yet, I write Sci Fi and it usually involves creatures and peoples from different worlds. Still, I adapt what I observe to fit my world.

For instance, right now, some neighbors are shooting up and down a dirt road in front of our trailer. I know this because I hear the high-pitched sound of the four-wheel ATVs produce as they shoot past our property every minute or so.

What if my character, Marcus, had his ride taken? What if on this world, stealing one’s all-terrain vehicle is treated like horse theft was treated back in the old west? What if these vehicles were viewed as a lifeline for the person? What if his life would be endangered because of the ATV’s theft?

Now, how do my observations from the ATV above have to do with these questions? My argument would be that Marcus used the sounds the device made to track the location of his ATV.

As the ATV approaches, the whine its engine makes gets louder and has a higher pitch. As the ATV moves away, the whine decreases in volume and has a lower pitch. Marcus uses these sounds to track the location of his vehicle, so he can capture those who took it and retrieve his property.

For example:

Marcus pulled the limb down and looked over it. With the other arm wrapped around the tree trunk, he leaned out from the tree top and scanned toward the whining ATV. Trees blocked his view. He intended to give the teens he met earlier a thrashing for stealing his ATV.

Movement to his left caused him to look toward a meadow. One teen chased after a rormana driving the creature to the other teen. The second teen roped the hairy horse-like creature, which is not an easy feat to do on foot.
Returning his gaze northward, Marcus realized the whine of his vehicle no longer moved away. In fact, the whine sounded higher and got louder. Then the two men on the vehicle popped up over a distant hill as they hit an open section of the trail. One man kept glancing back.

Marcus released the limb which slapped him across the face. He jerked back his and as his feet slid off the branch. He grabbed a limb that stopped his fall. He lowered himself to the next limb. With each step he made down, the engine whine grew louder. Sitting on the lower limb, the two men and his ATV appeared around a corner.

Focusing on the men, he leaned forward in preparation to jump. A roar brought his attention to a creature that looked like a giant ape chasing after the two men.

Well, I would keep going but I think I got what I wanted to get across. I used the sounds from a vehicle I observed to add detail to my story. We all do it one way or the other. So, what have you observed lately that you would like to use in a story?

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