Listening: A Writer’s Tool

people talking art of observationWriters are well aware of the value of observation for giving us the details we need to make our settings come alive, for rounding out our characters by giving them habits or for providing details in our descriptions that help identify them. Today I’d like to take a closer look at a specific form of observation – listening – as apart from merely observing. As writers we can use less obvious aspects of listening to deepen our understanding of our characters and their relationships to each other.

Experts tell us that only 20% (others say 10%) of verbal communication comes from the actual words used. Let’s examine the remaining 80% of face-to-face communication. One obvious benefit of doing this is for writing dialogue. As we listen to, or even participate in conversations, we can observe cues to meaning not contained in the words. The easiest aspects to spot are volume, tone, and pitch, which give us the first clues as to the state of mind of the speaker.  Continue reading “Listening: A Writer’s Tool”