First step in seeing people

I love the way that some authors can catch the essence of a person in a few sentences.  But how can I do that as a writer? I set myself the task of really trying to observe the people around me. By that I mean not just seeing what I expect to see, but really deconstructing their behaviour into a suite of movements and expressions and so on. But this

Two's company. Three is more interesting.

The other day I found myself wondering why a certain scene of mine was so dull. It had conflict. It had heightened emotions. Yet it was still dull. Essentially the scene was an argument between two characters regarding a course of action. The principal risks were to do nothing and definitely kill 300 people or do something and let an unknown (possibly extremely dangerous) entity loose upon their world. Both

Swearing, obscenities and so on in my fantasy and science fiction

Is it just me, or does everyone think that the use of the word ‘frak’ in science fiction and fantasy is just plain lame? I know that it annoyed the crap out of me in Battlestar Galactica. I figure that if you mean ‘fuck’ then just say it. Having said that, why use it at all? To be honest, I rarely use the so-called F-word in real life. My swearing vocabulary consists of ‘bloody’