The Unobservant Reader – A Guest Post by Carrie Ann Ryan

I want to thank Jessica for letting me take over her blog for the day!

Have you ever noticed that the characters we write and read are WAY more observant than we as a people are? I mean the author describes a hero reacting to a comment made by the heroine that angers him with the emotion “flashing across his face.” Do we had humans in everyday life notice these signs? Are we just an unobservant people and only detectives and people who study body language truly the observant ones?

I think we as a people could go either way on the spectrum. Sometimes we will notice the signs of anger or fear or another vibrant emotion. But other times it may be too subtle or too quick for us to see. I believe that the closer we are to a person the more likely we will notice the emotions that “flash across his face” or see “something in his eyes.” But other times we may just be clueless.

However in the writing world it’s not always a good idea for the reader to be clueless. The reader needs to see the subtle twitches and ticks of a character because they aren’t actually sitting right in front of the hero or heroine. If done well, the author can paint a picture in which the reader feels that they are there and can see everything the character is seeing. That is a sign of a good writer.

It’s the author’s job to be more observant than a normal person to portray exactly what is going on in their scene. Without that the author is merely telling us what happened not showing us. I personally love reading works that are so observant and detailed that I can close my eyes afterward and still see the settings, actions and emotions. I need to be there and not just a casual observer (no pun intended.)

As a writer I feel it is my job to convey what I want the reader to see. I want to show the reader my world and let them feel welcome. Sometimes my character observations need to be subtle enough that I want to reader to make their own conclusions. But without my observations as a reader that can’t happen.

As a reader I have begun to use what I have learned in book in my everyday life. I am trying to be a more observant person. When I walk into a room I try to take in my surroundings and gauge the feel of a room – more so than I had done before. When speaking to someone I try to listen to catches in their voice or anger behind their words. I try to watch the corners of their eyes and mouths for twitches or curves. I watch their hand to see if they shake or if they ball into fists.

Reading novels, especially the romance ones, have taught me to be a more observant person in the real world as well as try to be a more observant author.

What about you? As a writer do you notice these things? How have you tried to place the reader in your world with your observations? Have any of your readings become lessons to you in the real world as they had me?

Leave a comment and tell me what you think – I may just be crazy though and that is okay!

Thank you again Jessica for letting me stop by and ramble about what I have learned!

You can find Carrie at her blog

Carrie Ryan is a University Chemistry teacher and aspiring Contemporary and Paranormal Romance Author. She am currently unpublished and writing for herself. In the future when she feels that she can hold her work to her chest no longer she will venture out into the published world.

She is also an avid reader and lover of romance and fiction novels. She loves meeting new authors and new worlds. Any recommendations you have are appreciated.

5 thoughts on “The Unobservant Reader – A Guest Post by Carrie Ann Ryan”

  1. I agree that you have to give the readers those little signs to help them in the story. But I think we probably pick up more about our surroundings and people than we are concious of and that filters into our writing even if we aren’t aware of it. 🙂

  2. Hi Carrie 🙂

    That was an excellent post. I agree that observing the world around us is part of being a writer. Thanks for sharing!
    All the best,

  3. Great post, and oh so true. As writers, we can’t afford to not give all the subtle clues we can, especially with body language, or we’re forced to ‘explain’ emotion, which is a kiss of death.

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  4. Thank you for letting me stop by today Jessica!

    Pippa – I would like to think I am that observant but sometimes I think I just miss so much. Waiting tables in college allowed me to observe more people and start to develop a way to notice body language but it was reading that really pulled it together for me.

    Rob – Thanks for stopping by! I also hope that observing the world around us come to others as well too.

    Angela – I hate when I am stuck with a character in my head that I can’t name the emotions of. I don’t want to “tell” the readers what going on – but I feel it takes practice to be able to adequately convey them to the reader.

  5. This is too funny… Danielle and I tell each other all the time that ever since we started writing, we look at everything differently now. Even when you are on vacation… you will list to the roar of the ocean a little more than you used to. I don’t think we realized how much we were missing before. LOL. But I do agree with Pippa too. A lot of scenes we have written, came from memory. And when you start writing that scene, the memory will become very vivid.

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