The First-Person Narrator That Is Me I.

Text Farhad Babaei

Experimental Essays on Mental Elements in Creative Writing


This section discusses the most important element in creative writing: observations. It explains how to record them in the mind to use in a story. It also addresses how everyday observations are stored in the mind and how they differ from short-term and long-term memories. These issues are for the author whose observations have a potential for his work. in the following, this article studies the relationship between observations and ideas and how to develop each for creative writing or any other artistic field.

Part one: Observation Room

Classical authors typically delve into detailed descriptions of places, characters, and events. By observing and carefully considering these descriptions, we can envision a vivid portrayal of the world created by the author. Perhaps one of the major lessons that classics impart to writers is this attention to detail and descriptive observations that can transform a story from being flat and superficial to a tangible and imaginable space for the reader.

Gustave Flaubert, one of the eminent masters in the importance of observations and their utilization in creative literature, particularly highlights the attention to detail and precision in observations as a noteworthy and prominent feature. In his novel „Madame Bovary,“ for example, Flaubert, as a realist and prominent exhibitor of characters‘ prominent traits and psychological issues, utilizes everyday life details, emotions, and experiences of his characters as significant elements in his works.

His descriptions of the actions and reactions of characters as well as objects and surroundings in the novel „Madame Bovary“ are notable examples in this regard. His descriptions are executed with precision and beauty. He uses detailed descriptions of objects and clothing as important elements in character and story environment descriptions. These descriptions provide readers with information about characters and the story environment and vividly create a mental image of the story world.

Flaubert, through meticulous and miniature descriptions of characters and environments, transports the reader into both the real world and the characters‘ imaginative world. He pays attention to both the external and internal details of characters and shapes complex and real characters through these details.

Perhaps for this reason, literature and art have always been indebted to the classics. They have attached great importance to the details of human life and behavior (both internal and external states of human affairs), and in fact, modern literature and art have emerged excellently and superiorly from the heart of the classics.

One of the keys to success and achieving excellence in narrative prose and author descriptions of humans and places is the importance given to personal observations.

This is much more important than writing well. If we are not good observers, we cannot write well.

Writers are good witnesses to narrate the world and people duo to because of their exceptional ability to observe and listen carefully.

Despite their name, writers are very typical people.

They are often quiet people or, inverse to what others expect, they are not good lecturers.

They only become (professional speakers) when they write.

Victor Hugo in his great novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame from the words of one of his characters, Claude Frollo says: „When you get an idea into your head you find it in everything.“

I think the word Everything is our Observations. We want to make a deal with an idea with everything. Writers all the time are making a deal with their mental facilities. They store these observations in their minds, using them later for creative works.

I refer to this aspect of the memory as the -Observation Room-.

Within the mind, there exists a section capable of accessing both short and long-term memories, which can be considered for doing artwork.

The Observation Room does not spoil anything. These observations do not expire and may linger in this room for many years. It serves as a mental workspace where writers collect their observations for future usage. It is like a kind of mental warehouse. The Observation Room is that part of the artist’s mind that functions as a storage where nothing is lost or forgotten, as the author continuously engages with its contents.

Artists and writers with specialized skills often have a dedicated space to aid their creative work. In my opinion, this space likely resides within the area of short-term and long-term memory, as well as olfactory memory. I say olfactory because they remind you of something without your will.

It should have happened to you that suddenly a smell reaches your nose and reminds you of a memory from the past. This happens without your will. The Observation Room works like this. You have seen things and recorded them and they will help you somewhere in your art.

In this part, observations are preserved in their original state. I visit this space whenever necessary to gather inspiration for my artwork, recognizing that even a small part of its contents may prove useful.

This space is continuously expanding and being filled until the last moment of life. While memories are a component of our memory, observations hold greater significance for artists.

Throughout the day and in daily life, people absorb a lot of data into their minds. Our minds process millions of pieces of data every day, many of which are swiftly forgotten within seconds, minutes, or even a day.

I think, for a writer, it becomes essential to act as an intermediary and to keep these data and observations before they fade.

In other words, I find value in even the smallest details, using them as mental assets. This platform operates similarly to a factory, discarding unnecessary information and using the remaining material, particularly the details that capture the artist’s attention.

Writers are the odd one out category here. They generally don’t follow the same path that others follow, rather make their path, and sustain it.

Observations make writers get involved in the topic.

Observation adds realism to our writing. People often think of the mind as the writing center from which ideas flow.

Being an observer engages all of your senses to inspire descriptive details in your writing. Slow down and zoom in on the world around you. You’ll learn to use this in your writing to create a rich, multi-layered text that readers can see, smell, hear, and touch. Every piece of writing relies on sensory details to deliver a great story. One of the important achievements that brings for a writer is to help develop ideas. Writers spend a great deal of time trying to think of ideas. But an idea is not being made but also, they just come into mind. Our observations are one of the reasons and it can help the writer create believable characters and a world.

To me, without observations, creative writing lacks that magical spirit.

Writers are constantly surrounded by data, sensory stimuli and motivations, observing, hearing, and feeling these inputs, which they use to tell their story.

It’s crucial to separate and categorize these observations in the mind and record them for later use.

When the time comes to employ them, they can be transformed into words.

These observations or it is better to call them materials are often over time, unconsciously recorded but consciously used, in pair with imagination.

The creative mind and this space serve as a filter, separating ordinary memories from those significant to me as a writer. It recognizes something in them that is not an idea or a topic. Just a mysterious feeling!

Here, further, to elaborate on this topic, I mention an experimental sample of my observations and memories in the past.

I recall my days as a soldier during mandatory military service.

During my time at the police station, my duty involved maintaining order and providing street safety by standing at different crossroads daily.

While stationed at an intersection one day, a high school girl approached me, waiting at the crosswalk until the traffic light turned green. In those forty or fifty seconds, she glanced at me several times. Like most students, her expression carried a shadow of sadness, reflecting her dislike for early mornings. She was a typical girl, covered in a uniform from head to toe, her head wrapped in a scarf.

I noticed that she had a soft smile in her eyes, and I winked at her for fun. She seemed to be about five or six years younger than me.

Suddenly, she approached me and taking a pack of chewing gum from her pocket, she handed it to me.

I took it, and she smiled, promising to bring a fruity and flavored gum for me the next day. That was so mysterious and I wondered why a school girl was eager to give me a flavored gum.

These data have retained their purity in my Observation Room during the past 27 years.

Over time, my Observation Room filtered out irrelevant details, focusing only on what could maintain the narrative process — a sentence that would lead into the next dialogue. The chewing gum was a pretext for this deal.

Now, after a long time, what I saved in my mind was the tension of that moment. Something like a hook! However, certain aspects began to fade in my memory. The voice of the girl, her physical appearance, and even the color of her backpack was erased upon entering my Observation Room.

These details were deemed minor at the moment, as only keywords held the right to enter my observation room.

Whenever I reflect on them, I am transported back to that exact crossroad on a chilly morning, where two different worlds intersected. Eventually, as the traffic light turned green, the girl went, and I have never seen her again. My duties often took me to different locations on different days. Even, my displacement at that time has a kind of potential to be saved in my observation room.

Among the items stored in my mind, I have a systematic movement loop: a soldier standing, a girl approaching, and the countdown of a traffic light.

The girl’s motion of giving chewing gum and her mysterious words about the near future. And, in the end, two different worlds that were faced together.

As I said, losing each other could be a starter for a plot, as well! If I figure it out as a timeline, I would say they approach together. Then, they say something or a keyword that causes Suspension.

Finally, they separate, what brings a kind of rising action.

Now after 27 years, does she remember me? The soldier in green! Or have I vanished from her memory altogether?

Here in this area, I want to flashback to my initial sentences in this part. She was an ordinary person. I was an ordinary soldier. While I have preserved her in my Observation Room so far, she may not even remember me. This contrast shows the difference between a writer and a non-writer, or, typical mind and Observation room!

I adore my observations, viewing them as an area tailored to my expertise. Yet, for others, these observations merely include memories, meant for their own. So, the difference between memoir and creative writing hinges on this fine and tiny boundary. The distant memories and observations that flit about my mind like ghosts eventually find their place within the mind of the writer, passing through mental filters.

I believe that writers take responsibility for their stories, not memories. They offer their unique perspectives about memories, truth, the world, and so on. I illustrate my story through my observation. I peer out through my -window- or -state of mind-, which serves as the primary platform for any artist’s worldview.

From such a point of view, every artist can cultivate and deepen self-awareness.

The difference between the Observation Room and dual human memories is their potential to change into a creative action. Short-term memory is conscious and operates in the present, while long-term memory is largely unconscious and stores memories beyond our immediate control and remains fixed until activated. Just the same as the above example about a smell and activating our long-term memory.

In my opinion, these mental activities, coupled with chemical reactions in the human mind, form a gateway through which the raw materials and ideas of the truest narratives emerge, ready to be changed into stories or any artistic field. The Observation Room serves to provide a pure space for the writer. It allows time to pass through memories without them fading into long-term memory. The room contains sensory and human tools for writing stories and keeps the writer free from judgment.

Its contents are meant to be used only for writing, separate from the writer’s personal feelings.

When the author avoids personal judgments, his worldview expands, and his words become more relatable. If we look at the personal lives of some writers, we will see that they have used their observations only to turn them into stories and how things have been changed when being come out from this room on paper!

For example, Franz Kafka had a complicated relationship with his father, which he drew upon in his writing. He felt oppressed by his father’s power and cruelty and often felt alone. From most angles of his life, the father’s personality had a godlike influence. I think Kafka was observing and studying every single of his life corners. He did not just see, he was feeling, observing.

Kafka’s novel, The Castle, describes these influences through the definition of an abandoned palace atop a hill with a mysterious secret. In The Judgment, the main character is unexplainable arrested and brought to the court.  In Metamorphosis, Kafka provides an objective description and personal expression of his father and family.

Kafka’s observations from his personal life become stories that create a Kafkaesque worldview for the reader. The stories were stored in his observation room, in another place and time, and created literature.

But beyond the Observation Room and the fact that the artist in his field of work learns to pay attention to observation, there is something else that is less closely related to observation. Doing this needs a kind of upbringing and training that not only writers but all artists gradually discover and somehow change the chemistry of their minds to do artistic work.

Something that I call Mind Training in a way, and now I’m going to talk about it in the next part.

This article is the first part of an abridged excerpt from the unpublished book „The First-Person Narrator That Is Me,“ originally written in Persian and translated into English for publishing an

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