Thursday, March 10, 2011

a Field Guide for Writing

Last week, I finished "The Danger Box" by Blue Balliett. I loved it! The author did a masterful job of weaving the history and personality of Charles Darwin into the lives of a boy and his grandparents. One of the main focuses of the story is a field guide kept by Charles Darwin on his famous voyage of the Beagle to the Galapagos Islands.

The idea of a field guide has always appealed to me-- to take along a notebook and record what you see through drawings and notes sounds like great fun. There's only been one problem for me. I don't draw that well (or well enough to want to fill a field guide). That got me thinking.

What if you had a writing field guide? A simple notebook that you filled with brief, written "sketches" of the people and places around you.

"Tall and lean like a tree stripped bare by a wind storm, as weathered as a rock in the canyon." 

"Shrieking and howling, the small boy lead his mother on a chase through Aisles 4 and 5, managing to knock over a display of energy drinks."

Sometimes writers become so fixated on the ultimate word count for their book, they forget the magic of creating little nuggets of writing. There is great fun in taking the scene around you (real or imagined) and reducing it to as few sentences as possible. Each blurb can stand independent of those before or after; there's no need to worry about the flow and pacing!

So try it. Grab a new notebook (aahh, is anything more exciting than a brand new notebook?), a pen or pencil, and head somewhere with some action and create your own "Field Guide" to life. Let me know what exciting things you discover.

1 comment:

Easepod said...

Check out Blue Balliett's website at Lots of background on the locales she used for her four books.