Sunday, July 31, 2016

Best Prep For A Writing Career

I believe one of the best preparations for a writing career is getting a wide variety of social experiences. This especially applies to jobs where you meet and work with many people.

Of course, some people might think the ideal job for a writer is working alone, late at night, say, as a parking ramp attendant, so that you can write on the job.

I don't think so. Writers need a huge amount of exposure to other people so that we can learn how people act, react, function, think.

This is the kind of experience that helps you learn how people behave and talk.

This of course runs counter to the jobs and experiences that often appeal to writers, who are mostly introverts. We'd rather be foresters in the woods with the animals for companions than office workers dealing with dozens of people all day long every day. But observing those social interactions up close is what shows us how people act and talk and move. That's how we learn facial mannerisms and gestures and body movements and dialogue quirks.

If you find a written dialogue that seems wooden, with no spark, chances are that the writer hasn't spent thousands of hours observing and listening to a great many people talking.

If you find character movements described in ways that don't seem alive or real, chances are the writer hasn't spent thousands of hours watching people move.

Get out there. Mix it up. My ideal dream life of working a ranch, just me and my horse and dog, might be a glorious experience. But it ain't gonna help me write believable human characters.

This is the kind of experience that may make you very happy, but it won't help you write believable human characters.

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