Writers need to be voracious observers.
Read anything, everything.
Stare at the sky, the landscape, even the cars in rush hour.
Nuggets of gold can be mined from the most unusual places.
I watch America’s Got Talent. Sometimes to prove how out-of-sync that I am with the rest of the population. More often, because I’m continually awed by the gifts of so many.
AGT comedians for the most part – entertain.
The ones that truly earn my out-loud guffaws are those who keep it every day simple, say grocery store adventures.
No, I’m not specifically referring to Wal-Mart shoppers. Those would be an article all of their own.
Remember your last grocery store trip.
Funny stuff happens.
Men, who are perfectly capable of driving on the right – correct side of the road – seem to become lane-confused when in the store. They’re always on the wrong side, or pass incorrectly, or block the aisle, and then are terribly confused when they receive death glares from their female counterparts.
Teenagers, who clearly believe in the grocery stork, are completely lost and will wander aimless – and always in your path – when searching for an item.
The woman on her phone – you’ve seen it too – who is so engrossed in her conversation that it’s impossible for her to shop.
AGT Comedians don’t find these encounters aggravating.
Well, maybe they do. But they turn said encounters into comedy.
Laugh-makers, I term them.
The real world with a twist.
As I DVR my select AGT favorites, I often watch these snippets again and again.
Who doesn’t need a laugh pick-me-up after a tough day?
I practice this same repetitive behavior with books.
A familiar book will feed my sanity-starved soul.
Most of us have ‘keeper’ shelves. Some of us are a bit obsessive and mark favorite pages . . . passages . . . the perfect turn of the phrase.
Use that behavior to your writing advantage.
Then start your own page of ‘keeper’ phrases, lines, and great passages.
When I began this exercise, it was with the thought I’d capture a couple of memorable one-liners and then share.
The more I read the talented, the more I find to KEEP.
I’ve listed a few here. If you haven’t read these books, I’d suggest a trip no further than your local Amazon store. Any of these titles in hardback or paperback, I own the permanent copies.
1) Because writers need to be voracious observers.
2) Because reading makes me happy.
3) Most importantly, great writing hones my craft.
I hope you enjoy my list.
‘It’s for his own good. Odd how the gods and humanity used that so often to justify brutality.’ Sherrilyn Kenyon, UPON THE MIDNIGHT CLEAR.
‘Caitlin mustered up all her courage – all one and a half ounces of it – and walked up the stairs. Stopping at the closed door, she risked a side-long glance at Mr. Mountain Man.’ (the bouncer of a BDSM club). Sayara St. Claire, HURT ME, HEAL ME.
‘ “Because when I pray, I say your name first, and I say your name last. When I breathe, I breathe for you. Every kind thing I say, every good thing I
do, I do because I know you’re in the world and I . . . I love you.” He smiled at her with his mouth, his eyes . . . his soul.’ Christina Dodd, DANGER IN A RED DRESS
‘People who wanted to challenge the status quo didn’t get to have temper tantrums. They had to be smarter, and calmer, and faster, and better. Beyond reproach, beyond critique. As perfect as a human being could be, because you could whine about fair and unfair all you wanted, but at the end of the day, you did the extra work or you failed.’ Kit Rocha, DEACON(Gideon’s Riders)
He cherished.’ JD Robb, BETRAYAL IN DEATH
‘ “An ‘usband should be plain enough to sit at his settle, and simple-minded enough to accept the stew on his plate, rather than looking round ev’ry corner for a more succulent chop,” she declares.
Maud nods in agreement. “She sounds very wise.”
Aye, she was full of wisdom; but mostly gin!” ‘Emmanuelle de Maupassant, THE GENTLEMEN'S CLUB
‘His silence welcomed her as surely as another’s man greeting, for his eyes glowed and a smile flirted with the stern line of his mouth.’ Christina Dodd, JUST THE WAY YOU ARE.
‘Pride was how one behaved when others were watching. Honor was what a man did when there was no one else to see.’ Mary Jo Putney, THE RAKE
‘Her presence had been palpable since she first arrived and now he could feel only the ghost of her essence, echoes of her laugh.’ J.S. Scott, THE BILLIONAIRE'S OBSESSION
‘. . . real happiness and joy, those don’t tend to come without some risk. Those things are worth it.’ Lexi Blake, PERFECTLY PAIRED
Lexi Blake summed up my attitude. Good things don't come without risk. They also don't come without effort. In order to be a better writer, we need to observe, first-hand and in detail. We need to read great authors and pay careful attention to the turn of a phrase.
If 'due diligence' is given . . . then some day, it will be our words highlighted on blogs, with Post-it notes, and in literary discussions.