Writing Assignment: Observe And Capture A Character

by Randy Murray on August 17, 2012

Life offers an unending stream of interesting things for the writer. Never let me hear you say, “I don’t have anything to write about.” There’s plenty to write about if you simply look about you.

One of the most effective ways for practicing writing skills when you’re uncertain about what to write is to go somewhere public, watch the people around you, and write about what you see. Here’s the key: what you write doesn’t have to be about anything more than what you see. Simply capture a moment, an observation about a person or place, or perhaps your reactions to what you see.

I keep a Field Notes Memo Book in my pocket at all times. It’s great for jotting down a sentence or two when something that you see strikes you. Here are a few lines from mine dated July 26:

This man manages to appear both aloof and imperious in shorts and a t-shirt and a buff colored driver’s hat. I’m not sure how he does that. That alone might make me dislike him, but he’s also doing something that’s setting off my compulsive alarms. It’s hot and we’ve been here nearly an hour. I’m sitting here in my car, waiting for the ferry, and he’s walking about and eating from a big bag of Fritos that he’s opened from the bottom! Why should I care that he’s opened the bag this way? He’s opened it from the bottom and is holding it displaying the front, obviously proud of his disregard for civilized behavior. I don’t know why it offend my sensibilities, but it does. He irks me. I dislike him more and more. And I sit here, waiting patiently, and he’s striding about, leaving his car doors opened, parked over the lines and taking up two spaces. I’ve parked carefully, but his carelessness forces me to leave a large gap between my car and his. This man is destroying my stereotyped view of Canadians as polite and considerate. That’s another strike against him.

Here’s the thing to remember: just write. Don’t judge, edit, or plan. Just write what you see or think. If you capture something of interest you can always rewrite later.

For today’s assignment, go somewhere public and write a minimum of three short observations of people or things that you see.

Click here to view and complete previous writing assignments.

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Writing Assignment: Observe And Capture A Character by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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