Last month I gabbed about flat writing – you know, a story that can be plopped into any kind of setting. Nothing in the descriptive setting identifies the world you created as unique to your story. Nothing to make the reader feel like they are in another world.
How about if we take that a step further and make the reader feel the scene you’ve created?
Our county fair is running this week and I have a camera in my hand the entire time. Since my current WIP has a carnival scene, I thought how perfect is this! We can analyze all the little details that make this event come alive to the reader. With the advent of digital cameras, I no longer hold back for fear of high printing costs. I snap photos of everything. I never know what I might find and use in a scene.
Have you ever walked through an Exhibit Building? Vendors in booths designed to showcase their products. Jams, jellies, baked goods; clothing, costumes, jewelry; sculptures, woodworking, photography? All those items are part and parcel with the territory, you are not telling the vast majority of people something they don’t already know. How are you going to take ownership of this scene?
Let’s look at his young man for instance. Isn’t this typical behavior for any child independent enough to go after what he wants? If you’ve ever taken a child to any type of amusement area, you know picking mom’s pocket to get a token or money is as commonplace as cotton candy and popcorn.
How about the animal barns? I love wandering through the pens of sheep, goats and pigs. It’s so tempting to stroke fuzzy heads or help scratch the furry places rubbing against fence panels just can’t satisfy. All the pens have clean, fresh bedding. Tubs of clean water are tethered to metal rails either newly painted for the event, or dented and scraped from wear. But wait! How about this angle? One or two sentences about the showkids and their parents sitting in the aftermath of unloading and bedding down the exhibits crowds come to ooh and ahh over. Do we ever hear about the families who max out their fun meters before the show starts? Nothing more that a sentence or two – visual white noise.
This is the little stuff that makes your scenes come alive!
I just couldn’t resist this last picture. Young man, maybe 10 or 11, watching his sheep go through the scale at the weigh in to make sure it is within the prescribed boundaries for weight. Look at this young man – our cowboy of tomorrow. His hat is dirty, jeans worn and boots (complete with spurs) scuffed up enough to show he knows his way around livestock. Can’t you just imagine the interaction between your hero or heroine and this cowboy-in-training? Can't you just imagine this young man in another 15 or 20 years?
Hmmm, I can : )
Look at your scenes. Think beyond point A and include the area all around. Take pictures, cut up magazines, download travel brochures. Visuals converted into words can give the reader moments even Calgon can’t take away.
Okay, now your turn. Pick a scene in your WIP and pan out beyond the focal point. What do you see? What one slice of life will ground the reader in your world? You’ll be amazed where your imagination takes you!
Blessing to all!
Blessing to all!