Thursday, June 20, 2013

Take Notes: This is What Authors Do

Strangely enough, I've been thinking a lot about notes lately. And I'm not talking about the five thousand to-do list/notes I have scattered around my desk. (It's not a pretty picture, my friends...) Those are reminders. You know. "Remember to call so-and-so for an interview." "Remember to eat breakfast this morning, and if you forget, just deal with it and eat lunch earlier than usual." 
These are the reminders in my life. Yep. 

Actually, what I'm really talking about are notes. As an author, you need to be aware that everyday life - even the most mundane activity - is important. Authors, regardless of whether or not we're writing fiction or non-fiction, harness emotion, because what writing does is make people feel. It makes you feel excited, angry, sad, get the idea. If you read a book that didn't make you feel anything, chances are you're either reading a really lousy novel or an algebra textbook. Nope. Reading brings out people's emotions (the "e-word," as I like to call it!), and a good author knows how to channel realistic ones. I have found that an outstanding way to transfer emotions into writing is by keeping notes. 

When I was a Junior in high school, I remember sitting outside in the mountains with a notebook and a pen. Yes, I was just randomly hanging out with the bluejays and bears, something I enjoyed doing. Peace and quiet is a great way to think. I started writing down exactly what I was feeling at the moment - even though it was incredibly boring. I answered these questions: 
How do I feel? 
What does it smell like right here? 
What do I see? 
What does the ground feel like? 
What's the weather like?

Boring stuff, I know. But extremely useful. Because when I went back to write a piece later about a scene in the mountains, I was able to look at a sheet of notes that told me exactly what types of emotions to transfer onto paper. I essentially took the emotions of the moment, trapped them in a bottle, and saved them for later use. I do this quite a bit. If I have a great experience - or even a bad one - I try to capture the emotions in words and use them later in fiction. Because fiction is an embellished version of reality, and it has to be made more believable than non-fiction. 

Feelings of excitement, fear, despair, apprehension and the like are all emotions that you should write about when you're feeling them. It makes it easier to give your fictional characters a sense of realism, which is the ultimate goal of any author, right? 

Next time I'll be talking about something else important in the writing process: Showing and not telling. Until then, start taking notes! Keep a journal. Keep track of your emotions...they could be worth a million dollars someday. 


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Get fictional - it's fun! Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to see you again soon!