Therese here. Today’s guest is WU community member, Julia Munroe Martin. Julia is a writer and editor who blogs from one of the best places in the world–the coast of Maine. She has experience as a business and technical writer as well as a journalist, and she is currently, in her own words, “a novelist-in-progress.” (Love that.) She’s been working on a story for ~7 years, and during that time she’s learned how to gather information about people in an interesting way. We’re so glad she’s here today to tell us more about that. Enjoy!
I’m Not Above Spying
I almost used a pseudonym for this post. I’m not even kidding. I wonder: if anyone in the very-small-town I live in happens to read this post, will they ever stand behind me in the grocery store let alone speak to me again?
Because here’s the thing. I’m not above spying. I’m a snoop. I like to say it’s because my training is in journalism. I know how to ask questions, observe people, gather information.
But which came first, the chicken or the egg? I have a vivid imagination, I’m naturally curious, I like to ask questions, and I’m a people watcher, too. As I considered careers, I always found myself drawn to being a spy or maybe a private investigator—but I’m way too much of a wimp. Instead I became a writer. Turns out these very same skills are a boon to my fiction–and they can be to yours, too.
First the basics. To successfully spy gather information—wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, I always have a way to record what I see and what I hear. A notebook, a shred of paper, more recently my iPhone—tools I always have with me. Fortunately I also have a willing accomplice (my husband) who is equally snoopy.
Here are some techniques that work for me. [Read more…]