Our world is amazing. It’s full of sights, sounds and colours for writers to explore and all kinds of people, creatures and beasts to capture on the page. Once you have them there, you can play with them, change and distort them, and put them into stories of your own.
What do they wear, how do they move, and what might they be thinking? Write down some things about them that you find surprising or funny or sad. That boy you saw yesterday kicking a football against the wall – bam! bam! bam! – what did his face look like as he aimed each kick? Was it all screwed up and fierce? Were his hands fists – or were they stuck casually in his pockets; was he angry or bored or lonely? You could make him into a fictional character, take him on a story journey and find out.
Dogs can’t talk – or can they? Look at the next dog you see in the street. Is she young and eager, pulling at a lead? What adventure might she have? Or perhaps you notice an old, skinny stray dog sniffing at the bins. What would she say if she could speak? Put her down in your notebook, give her a name, and let yourself discover her story.
Look at the world around you, at its shapes, sizes, sights and colours. What’s outside your window right now? I can see some steps, a falling-down fence, a tree, and two houses with big windows and chimney pots. The windows look like huge, sleepy eyes, the chimneys are ears. Those houses seem guarded, full of secrets, and they may find a place in a story I write someday.
What noises can you hear in a park in springtime: people talking, birds singing, traffic whizzing by, children laughing or yelling? You might find you hear the world differently in the winter, in the fog or in the rain. A daytime city street may be light, bright, silver, grey – at night, a neon red and yellow.
Notice tastes and smells: the bitter burnt toast at breakfast, the sweaty school changing-room, the tang of fruit juice, the coconut scent of sun cream, of summer. And remember to explore the textures of things, whether they are smooth, soft, rough, jagged – and how that makes you feel inside.
Put all these snippets, facts, thoughts and ideas into your notebook. You can use these real-world details in your writing to make your stories rich and vivid.