Wednesday, May 14, 2014

SEEING DOUBLE: MAKING YOUR WORDS COUNT … TWICE!


Hi, Julie here, and at church last week, our pastor talked about Nicodemus coming to see Jesus at night, which he claims is the first recorded episode of Nick at Night. Sorry, just couldn't resist.  :)

In that passage, Jesus compares the wind to the Spirit of God in John 3:8, but first let’s set up the scene. Most likely it was the Garden of Olives late at night while all the disciples slept and Jesus was praying. It’s quiet and still until a soft breeze rustles the olive trees. I can almost see Jesus close his eyes and lift his face to the cool evening air as he speaks to Nicodemus. “You hear it rustling through the trees,” He says, “but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above.’” — Message Bible

The Spirit of God—as soft as a whisper, but more powerful than the wind.

Be it metaphor, simile, analogy, or symbol, infusing double meaning into our words helps paint a deeper, more powerful image in our readers’ minds. But … since I am an emotional writer who writes primarily by feeling, I’m not exactly the best person to talk nuts and bolts about ways to infuse double impact into your stories. However, author Winnie Griggs nailed it to the wall in her exceptional Seeker blog on “Imagery,” so I won’t reinvent the wheel on that cart. Especially when Winnie’s vehicle is more of a 16-wheel semi on the subject, so I encourage you to read it.

What I am going to do is try to show you ways in which I attempt to help my readers “see double” to better flesh out what I’m trying to convey, even if I have to scramble to add something to the scene, be it a song title, food, or even a pet. Ready?

1.)  USE SCENE COMPONENTS TO ENHANCE BOTH EMOTIONAL AND SETTING DESCRIPTIONS: In A Light in the Window, the hero is painting scenery for the play along with two little girls he’s befriended, one of whom made him a clover necklace. The clover necklace is a component that not only helps enhance the setting—little girls sprawled on the grass in a schoolyard, making clover jewelry—but I get double usage by correlating it to the hero’s reaction to the heroine with the highlighted sentence in the scene below:

Expelling a noisy sigh, he rose and turned with a slack of his hip, prepared to fend off her obvious dislike. “Look, Marcy, I didn’t mean to call you a—” The words locked in his throat at her nearness, a mere two feet away while those blue eyes peered up with genuine warmth instead of her usual cool civility. He swallowed hard, bewitched by the humility of her gaze, the gentle smile on those full, pink lips, hair the color of white gold, gleaming in the sun. The scent of rose water and Pear’s soap captured him, tangling his tongue—and his stomach—into more knots than the clover necklace Tillie had strung around his neck.


2.)  TIE IN COLOR TO ENHANCE BOTH EMOTIONAL AND SETTING DESCRIPTION.  Initially in the scene above, I had the hero painting a sleigh, but I quickly changed that to a red barn so that I could correlate it with his embarrassment:

Her eyes connected with his and instantly her face fused as scarlet as the paint on the brush in his hand, the memory of his stolen kiss the night on her porch obviously coming to mind.


3.)  USE PHYSICAL DESCRIPTIONS TO GIVE INSIGHT INTO THE PERSONALITY OF THE CHARACTER AS WELL. In this scene from Surprised by Love, I tried to describe the heroine’s suitor in a way that also hinted at his personality, making the description do double duty.

He stood staring out the mahogany French doors, one palm braced to the wall, his charcoal suit coat strained against broad shoulders. Wisps of dark hair curled up on his high collar, typical for a man too consumed with obligations to take time for his barber. She noted the gray French Mossant fedora casually tossed on the cordovan loveseat as if he expected to stay and was making himself at home, also typical of the man she intended to show to the door.


4.)  USE PETS TO FLESH OUT BOTH CHARACTER AND SETTING DESCRIPTIONS WHILE ADDING HUMOR. In the following two clips from Love at Any Cost, I utilized the family’s pet bulldog to help flesh out a warmer, cozier family atmosphere while also using him as a humorous means of depicting the housekeeper’s, Mrs. Rosie O’Brien, intense dislike for Uncle Logan. A handsome bachelor rogue who broke his sister-in-law Cait’s heart years ago, Logan now wants Cait back, much to Rosie’s angst and distrust.

With a petite frame that was tiny and trim, Mrs. Rosie O’Brien wielded power in the McClare household that far exceeded both height and rank, a fact evidenced by the family’s so-ugly-he’s-cute bulldog, Logan Junior. Despite Logan’s objections, Rosie had won when she’d suggested naming the pet for the uncle who’d given it, citing the “creature’s propensity to intestinal odors” as commonality enough.

***

       Reaching to scrub the bulldog who lay at her feet, Alli winked. “Goodness, with that scowl on your face, Uncle Logan, it’s hard to tell you and Junior apart.”
       “Humph . . . the dog smells way better,” Rosie said, muttering loud enough for all to hear.
Logan glared. Says the hound permanently clamped to my hind quarter.


5.)  USE CHILDREN TO FLESH OUT BOTH CHARACTER AND SETTING DESCRIPTIONS WHILE ADDING HUMOR. In A Hope Undaunted, I had a heroine who was a pushy spoiled brat that I needed to make more likable, so I added an orphan who was much the same way, which allowed a double benefit in that the orphan helped soften and strengthen the heroine by simple comparison/contrast. Gabe, the orphan, also helped flesh out and deepen the scenes with humor and heart such as in the following clip where the heroine and Gabe are discussing the hero, Cluny (Luke) McGee. PLUS … extra bonus! I got to include the title of my favorite book … ;)

       Why, half the ladies at the society are loopy over him and most of us kids too. Not to mention the teachers.”
       “The society?” Katie nibbled on the edge of her cookie.
       “Yeah, the Boston So-ci-e-ty for the Care of Girls. Sounds real snooty, don’t it? But it’s nothing but an orphanage, although it’s better than most. Lots of gals just like me who nobody wants. And I can tell ya right now, that every last one of ’em think Luke is the cat’s meow.” A smug smile tipped Gabe’s mouth as she reached for another cookie and shimmied back in her chair. “But he likes me the best, which is why we’re gonna get married someday.” She paused and wheeled the chair back several inches, wrinkling her nose as she spied Katie’s blush. “Hey, you ain’t gonna spit again, are ya? Your face is red like you’re gonna puke.”
       Katie narrowed her eyes. The little squirt suddenly reminded her of Cluny McGee. She nursed her pride with a deep breath of air, then exhaled. “So, why’d you run away?”
       Gabe gulped her Nehi while eyeing Katie over the rim. “You ever meet Mrs. Merkle?”
       Katie shook her head and finished her cookie.
“Well, she’s old and whiney and smells like VapoRub.” A faint shiver rippled through the little girl. “I cain’t stand VapoRub. And the old coot she’s married to who coughs up spit? Passes wind like it was a fine talent.” She scrunched her nose as if the smell suddenly permeated the room. “You ever live in crackerbox that reeks with Vapo and gas? Trust me. It ain’t a feast for the senses, if you know what I mean.”
Katie did, and slowly gulped her cookie, her appetite suddenly gone with the wind.


6.)  USE CHARACTER NAMES TO FLESH OUT BOTH CHARACTER AND SETTING DESCRIPTIONS WHILE ADDING HUMOR. In A Heart Revealed, I gave the heroine’s lovable but nosy neighbor a name that did double duty—not only did it underscore a landlady who liked to keep an eye out on her tenants by “peeping” on them, but it also lent humor to a lovable character despite those peeping tendencies.

     
      Balancing the carton with his knee, Sean knocked on the door and waited.
      “She’s asleep.”
      He spun around, almost upending the soup. A tiny old woman in a gray nubby sweater that all but swallowed her up peeked out the door, blue eyes glaring as if she’d just caught him breaking in.
      “Who are you?” she muttered, opening the door more than a crack to reveal a rolling pin in her hand.
       “Sean O’Connor—Emma’s assistant manager from the store.”
       Her scowl softened into a smile. “So you’re the one she’s always gabbing about.”
       His mouth tipped up. “That depends—is it good or bad?”
       She grinned, evolving from a pint-sized threat into a huggable grandma. “Good. Anybody that can bring a little joy to Emma Malloy is okay by me.”
       “Couldn’t agree more.” He lifted the carton. “Think she’d mind if you let me in, Mrs. —”
       “Peep, Elvira Peep, Emma’s landlady and good friend.” Bustling past, she tucked the rolling pin under her arm and reached into her pocket for a key. She inserted it into the lock, then paused to look up, eyes pensive. “Emma thinks mighty highly of you, Sean O’Connor. Claims you’re friends.”
       “We are, Mrs. Peep—good friends.” He bobbled the carton, his fingers suddenly clammy. “You might say she’s my closest friend and I . . .” Emotion shifted in his throat. “I love her a lot.”
       “Call me Vi. And you can bet those freckles on that handsome face of yours that she feels the same.” The blue eyes narrowed, locked on him with uncomfortable precision. “You know, call me senile, but it seems to me there’s a spark of something more than just friends.”
       He blinked, her statement cutting off his air. “Pardon me?”
       With barely a sound, she turned the key in the lock, then dismissed his surprise with a wave of her hand. “Oh, I don’t mean you, of course,” she said with a shake of her head, “but her. Talks about you a lot, if you ask me. Seems to respect you, admires you.”
       “Well, like I said, Vi, we’re close friends.”
       She exhaled a burdensome sigh. “I know. And more’s the pity.”
       His breathing thinned as he shifted the box in his hands. “Why’s that?” he asked, not all that sure he wanted to know.
       She exhaled, eyelids weighted with regret. “Because she’s in love with you, you know, just doesn’t know it herself.”
He blinked. She may as well slammed him across the head with that rolling pin—no difference.


7.)  USE FOOD TO FLESH BOTH CHARACTER AND SETTING DESCRIPTIONS WHILE ADDING HUMOR. I always try to use food for double duty if I can, such as in these two clips from A Heart Revealed, where I included both deviled eggs and beets to the dinner menu because they not only helped me to more clearly convey a reaction with a picture, but they add both humor and depth by adding the specifics of food.

       The deviled egg in Charity’s mouth wedged still, her lips circling the egg to form a white O of shock. She quickly chewed and gulped it down. “Are you crazy? You know my brother. He may be the easygoing one of the lot, but don’t let that fool you. If we even hinted we wanted to give him a job at the store, the man would disappear faster than Henry at bath time.”

***

  No, I agreed to it two days ago when Mitch asked me.” Sean winked at Emma, and her cheeks went head to head with the neighbor’s beets.


8.)  USE TITLES TO FLESH CHARACTER, SETTING, AND THEME DESCRIPTIONS. My indie novel, A Light in the Window allowed me to get double and triple mileage out of the title, adding more depth to both the story and the characters. The story is about an Irish Christmas custom of putting a light in the window from Christmas to Epiphany to symbolize welcoming the Holy Family, plus it’s the name of the play the heroine is overseeing in the novel. The fullness of both the custom and the play come full circle when the heroine’s grandmother brings a spiritual and symbolic twist to the story, not only deepening it, but helping to shape one of the two heroes whose faith grows by responding to the “light in the window”—which is the light of Christ in the heroine’s life.

Mima nodded before her frail hand settled on Marcy’s arm. "You know, Marceline, our faith in God is very much like that light in the window that your Christmas play depicts. We are God’s abode, and His light shines through the windows of our lives into a dark and desperate world. Many may pass, enjoying the beauty of the light from afar, but few will be drawn to knock at the door, willing to embrace the Light of the World.” Her hand rose to gently cup Marcy’s cheek, a tenderness in her eyes that always warmed Marcy’s soul. “Guard your heart well, Marceline,” she said softly, “for a man who will respond to the light in the window, for therein lies a gift of God like no other, except that of His Son.”


9.)  USE SONGS TO FLESH UNDERSCORE A CHARACTER’S EMOTIONS. In Love at Any Cost, the secondary hero and heroine are dancing to a song hand-picked by me from the top songs for that year because the title underscored the hero’s thoughts and regrets, adding an extra double punch to the scene.

       He spun her in his arms, the orchestra’s rendition of Jere Mahoney’s “For Old Time’s Sake” haunting him as much as he hoped it haunted her. His heart thudded as he studied her in the soft glow of the chandeliers overhead. The flawless porcelain skin, the eyes the color of jade, and that lustrous auburn hair piled high with enough loose strays to tease an alabaster neck, leaving no doubt that his attraction to her had never waned. Oh, he’d buried it deep when she’d married his brother, certainly, allowing him to survive the loss of her in his heart and in his bed, but somehow it surfaced with a vengeance in the last year, and that alone told him that the timing was right.
       She’d been chattering nonstop while they danced, so out of character for a woman as content with silence as conversing with family and friends, and he couldn’t help the faint smile that shadowed his lips. She was obviously nervous—the song, the dancing, the memories—all too close to home for them both, and her unease reminded him of the girl he’d proposed to years ago in this very ballroom. She’d been shy and sweet and oh, so tempting, but innocent to a fault. A ‘fault’ that resulted in utter shock when he’d dallied with another. He exhaled slowly, his regret hidden behind an easy smile. Just one more chance, Cait—for old time’s sake?


10.)                   CORRELATE A CHARACTER’S ACTIONS WITH A SPECIFIC BUT SEPARATE ACTIVITY TO SHARPEN THE CHARACTER’S INTENT AND ADD HUMOR. In this scene from A Hope Undaunted, the heroine is trying to get her brother to come to dinner for ulterior motives, so I used fishing phrases (highlighted below) to equate the humorous tension in the scene with that of a fisherman trying to outsmart a bass.

       He cocked his head and gritted his teeth with a smile, his decision likely edging toward “no,” given the apology in his eyes.
       Uh-oh, fish or cut bait. Charity smiled and switched strategies. “That’s okay, really—I understand.” With a nonchalant air, she grabbed a spool of purple thread from the sewing box and gave him a wink. “Just more ribs for us.” She held the thread against the silk blouse and looked up. “Hey, do these colors match?”
       “Ribs?” Sean said weakly.
       Charity fished in the sewing box again, ignoring his gaze as she fiddled with more spools. “Yes, sir . . . Mitch’s apple-wood smoked variety, his secret sauce, candied carrots, my prize popovers, and—” she looked up, her face the picture of innocence—“potato salad.”
       “Potato salad?” He paused. His voice was the pained whisper of a man used to simpler fare prepared by a frugal mother victimized by the depression. He swallowed hard, as if drool were clogging his throat. “Mustard or mayonnaise?”
       She plopped back into her chair and flashed him a bright smile. “Sorry, didn’t catch that. What was the question again?”
       “The potato salad—is it the mustard kind or the mayonnaise?” It came out as a croak.
       Charity worked the edge of her lip, trying to remember Sean’s favorite. “Uh . . . mayonnaise, I think.”
       The man groaned as if a sharp lure had just pierced the soft flesh of his lip.
       Bingo!
       She set the hook and reeled him in. “And, of course, my homemade devilled eggs, those barbecue butter beans you’re so fond of, and last but not least . . .”
       His mouth hung open like a large-mouth bass.
       Victory coursed through her veins with a rush of adrenaline. “Warm peach cobbler in a pool of caramel sauce with cinnamon ice cream on the side—from Robinson’s no less,” she breathed, her tone hushed with respect.
       “Oh, man . . .” His voice was a moan of defeat. He blasted out a sigh that could have ruffled the leaves on the lilac bush at the edge of the porch. “What time again?”



GIVEAWAY: 
Okay, since I can't talk about "seeing double" without doubling up on prizes, I am going to choose two winners to win their choice of my books, including my upcoming October release, Surprised by Love. Just leave a comment or an example of how you "doubled" your word power, and you're in the draw! GOOD LUCK!!


JULIE'S BIO:
Award-winning author of “The Daughters of Boston” and “Winds of Change” series, Julie Lessman was American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and voted #1 Romance Author of the year in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards. She has also garnered 17 RWA and other awards and made Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction. Her book A Light in the Window is an International Digital Awards winner, a 2013 Readers' Crown Award winner, and a 2013 Book Buyers Best Award winner. You can contact Julie and read excerpts from her books at www.julielessman.com.



100 comments:

Tina Radcliffe said...

I'm seeing double!!! Brava! Well done. You had me laughing at Nick at Night.

Now I want cobbler!!! With that special sauce and ice cream!!!! And I'm using enough exclamation points to make me a Julie WannaBE!!!!

Abbi Hart said...

Brilliant post! I'm supposed to be reading but I saw your name on this post, Julie, and I couldn't resist taking the time to read and comment! I will admit that it was partially due to the fact that I knew there'd be scenes from your books and I was really in the mood for the O'Conners! But beyond that I really enjoyed the other parts of the post! You made some great points that I had never really thought of but they really can enhance a scene!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

TWO JULIES!!!!! Can life possibly get better than that??? I submit that it cannot!!!!

Oh my stars, I think you totally beat me in length today, Julie, and what a great idea, to get more bang for your buck, more mileage out of your work. Wonderful!

Cobbler?????

I'm in! And look at that Radcliffe chickie stealing our crazy excessive use of exclamation points!!!!! :)

But this was an exclamation point-worthy post.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Coffee is here!!!! Creamers are in the cooler to the right, they're calling for summertime warmth today so gotta keep the creamers chilled!

Terri said...

Oh wow! I'm awed by your double duty usage. Hope I can manage the same in my writing. I'm far too humbled to even try and give an example, but would love a copy of your new release.

Julie Lessman said...

LOL, TINA ... I just got up and have had only a sip of coffee, so I blinked and said, "cobbler"??? Had to search my post to see where I put cobbler!! Yeah, "warm peach cobbler in a pool of caramel sauce with cinnamon ice cream on the side" happens to be my favorite ... as are ALL the menu items!! And, yes, I really AM that persnickety about which style of potato salad I like. :)

Thanks for all the exclamation points ... you must have eaten more than once piece of cobbler ... ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Whoops, got so taken with Tina's exclamation points that I forgot to mention our menu this morning ... of course, it could be lack of coffee cells in my brain (is there such a thing?? Coffee cells, not my brain ...!).

Another favorite menu item of mine are banana chocolate chip muffins, which I make from scratch (or used to) plus Mickey Mouse pancakes with blueberry eyes and strawberry mouths and my homemade cinnamon French Toast (yeah, yeah, I know French Toast IS fried cinnamon bread, so cut me some slack) PLUS lots and lots of Keurig coffee, any flavor you want, except I'm out of macadamia nut because that's Keith's and my favorite. :)

DIG IN!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

ABS!!! Soooo nice to see you here, my friend, and so late at night ... or early, I guess!!

LOL ... I'm always in the mood for the O'Connors because I have to admit, I miss them from time to time, although the McClares have kept me busy!! Now I'm working with the Carmichaels and O'Bryens, my first two-family Irish saga called Isle of Hope AND my first contemporary, so say one for me, okay?

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!!

Julie

Julie Lessman said...

LOL, RUTHY ... or worse, depending on who's opinion it is ... ;)

And, yeah, I'm pretty blown away by all the Tina exclamation points, too ... just figured my eyes were blurry because I hadn't put my contacts in yet ... :)

Hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, and RUTHY ... thanks for supplying the creamers, but no need to chill them ... temps in St. Loo right now are low 50s and rainy, with a balmy high expected today of ... 59 degrees!!!

Okay, who took spring and why is winter now six months ... did the equator shift or something???

Hugs,
Julie

Audra Harders said...

OMG, Julie. Do you realize how early I have to get up in the morning to read your posts? Look at all that good, solid, meaty advice on how to flesh out scenes. I love it.

Well worth dealing with eye bags the rest of the day : )

This post is a keeper for certain. Let me see if I have enough paper in the printer before I start...

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, TERRI, it's really just a matter of habit, assessing a word or situation and determining if you can double it up someway. I've kind of trained myself to do that, to get the most out of words when I can ... uh, which is probably why I only write one book a year and Ruthy and Mary write 200 ... I spend too much time trying to double dip it. :|

Good luck in the contest -- Surprised by Love is a tense but fun conclusion to the McClares, so I hope you like it ... :)

Hugs,
Julie

Mary Hicks said...

Loved the post, Julie! Fun to read and got some ideas too. Can't beat that with a stick!

'Nick at night'... hahahahaha!!!

Carolyn A said...

Great post. Thank you. I' hope I've employed some of these techniques, but it's hard. To come up with one. I would say names, including a character Christopher, who literally becomes a Christ-bearer to the woman he loves and his family.

Julie Lessman said...

AUDRA SAID: "OMG, Julie. Do you realize how early I have to get up in the morning to read your posts ... Let me see if I have enough paper in the printer before I start..."

LOL, you little brat!! Would you believe I was actually proud of myself for getting this blog under 3,000 words??? I intended for it to be my shortest blog yet, but we all know that's an overly optimistic futility. :)

Sorry 'bout the bags, Auds, but I hear cold peach cobbler works wonders ... ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Wilani Wahl said...

Julie, You've given a lot of great information as usual. I am printing it off when I get back home.

Stay warm today! I hope that is not indication of what is headed our way.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Julie, Oh how much fun to revisit some of my favorite books and characters. I loved all your examples and what a great way to teach us how to deepen character. You are so talented. smile

Yummm cobbler and Ruthy's coffee. Can't get better than that--as Miss Ruthy says.

Oh wait, I"m reading on and see there are Mickey Mouse pancakes too. Oh my. I am going to have to play an extra hour of pickleball to work off this feast.

Sharon Timmer said...

Since I am not an author but s reader - the only time I double my word power is when I am trying to get s point across to my teenager :)
Oh my - you had me at COBBLER - now all I can think about is warm peach cobbler - the power of WORDS - LOL
Love your books & I would be happy to have your new one also!

chris granville said...

Cute! Wonderful! terrific blog Lots to think about
Interesting you say doubling your effectiveness Im trying to convince somebody to do something that is hard for them. Please Pray Im effective
God bless you
Chris Granville

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

Wonderful post! Thanks for these great ideas. I guess I was using the double technique without knowing what I was doing lol! But I love how you explain and give such wonderful examples from your books! Can't wait for your next book!

Julie Lessman said...

MARY SAID: "Fun to read and got some ideas too. Can't beat that with a stick!"

LOL ... have you been reading my book Dare to Love Again, girlfriend, because beating with sticks plays a prominent part ... ;)

Thanks, Mare, and I'm glad Nick at Night got you -- it got me, too, on Sunday. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

CAROLYN ... oh, YES, I love it when an author really thinks about the symbolism or effect of a name, so Christopher sounds PERFECT for your character in that situation. GREAT JOB!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Thanks, LANI ... but you may want to check your paper supply to make sure you have enough before you print it off according to that brat, Audra!! ;)

Oh, goodness, I sure hope this dark, rainy front isn't heading your way either -- it's sooooooo gloomy!! Thank God for cobbler ... :)

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!!

Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Aw, thanks, SANDRA, and right back at you, my friend!! I have your latest burning a hole in my TBR list, but I've got quite a few Carols to judge yet, so I have to wait, but it's killing me!!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Thanks, SHARON, for your sweet comment, and trust me -- I had ME at cobbler too!! Peach cobbler is my fave -- WHERE'S PATTI JO WHEN YOU NEED HER??? -- and cinnamon ice cream is my favorite ice cream too, so DOUBLE yum!!!

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!!
JULIE

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, CHRIS ... you bet I will pray for you, my friend, because it's not just the character you have to persuade, but the reader too, so that's not easy. But then like my hubby always says, "Julie, if writing a book were easy, everybody would do it."

Saying one RIGHT NOW, my friend, so good luck!!

Julie

Julie Lessman said...

CARRIE!!! Sooooo good to see your beautiful face, my friend, and thanks for the share this morning.

If ANYBODY knows about doubling up, it's you, girl, with your professional psychological background in having to look BEHIND the words for another meaning or reason why people do what they do, eh?

Love you!!
Julie

Julie said...

While I'm not a writer I loved reading your post and visiting favorite scenes from your books Julie! I just went and Pre-ordered my copy of SURPRISED BY LOVE :) Can't wait!!

Julie @ My Favorite Pastime

Thea Colebank said...

I am seeing double!!! Wow! What a brilliant post! You always give me new writing ideas and it is thrilling to see what techniques other people use. To write a novel is a dream of mine and I am constantly trying to get my hands on new ideas and techniques that can enhance my writing. This was so helpful!!! Thank you ever so much!

Peggy O'Keefe said...

Julie! I can't express how much I enjoy reading anything you write. It's so picturesque and funny and just plan GREAT!!! Not to mention the food you describe always gets my mouth watering. You are amazing and I always think about everything I've learned from you as I'm writing.

Peggy

Missy Tippens said...

LOL, Tina!! It's rare to see so many exclamation points from Tina!! :)

Julie, what a great post! I loved the examples. You've inspired me to go back and make my words work at least double time for me.

And you also reminded me that I had thought to add a pet to my proposal in the works! The idea hit me as I was falling asleep, and I had forgotten it. So THANK YOU!

Julie Lessman said...

JULES!!! Soooooo fun to see you here, girlfriend, and thanks for your sweet comment AND preordering SBL ... I'm guessing Cait and Logan's story will get your dander up, but keep reminding yourself that it all ends well ... ;)

Thanks for coming by, you sweet thing, and get back to those kitchen cabinets ... time's awastin'!!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, THEA, I am SOOOO glad I could help!! You know, when I'm writing these things, I always think -- this is so lame and doesn't really teach anything at all, but then I realize as a writer who runs purely on emotion, I resonate with the extra emotional writers out there, so I figure it all works out. :)

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!!

JULIE

Julie Lessman said...

Aw, PEG, that is just the sweetest comment, my friend -- THANK YOU!!

LOL ... yeah, I've had readers ream me over the coals because I make them hungry in my books, so I guess I do need to tone that down since I am watching my weight ... ;)

Hugs and good luck in the contest!!

Julie

Julie Lessman said...

YAY, MISSY ... glad I could jog your memory on that pet addition!!

Now ... if I could just jog mine on what I have to do today, I'll be good. ;)

Hugs,
Julie

tmainini said...

Thanks for sharing some of your tricks that make your books so awesome! Love the Nick at Night comment!!

Mary Connealy said...

It's always special when Julie brings her twin sister Juliette to visit Seekerville.

WELCOME TO YOU BOTH. :)

Charlotte Kay said...

Hi, Julie,
I would love to win your latest book!!!!!
I need an autographed copy to add to my collection!!!!!
Thanks, dear!

Heidi Robbins said...

What great examples! So descriptive! I always appreciate authors more after a visit to Seekerville :) Please include me in your drawing!

Angi said...

Mornin' Julie! Always so much fun to see how you pull your stories together and love reading your techniques on how to do so. AND, I always enjoy re-reading the excerpts. ;)

Wow! I think my jaw dropped when Sean's did over that awesome menu. I loved that scene the first time that I read it. Charity is such a stinker. :)

SO good to see you, my friend! Have an awesome Wednesday!

Jon and Vicki Marney said...

Thanks for these ideas Julie. As a new writer, these are the kinds of things that I need to go back & check to see if I have, or to add to make it more interesting.
I do have an instance in my book with using a name for a double meaning. My hero, is Hawaiian and my proposed title is The Princess and Maui Boy. I decided (as a suggestion from a Hawaiian FB friend) to use the name Ali'i as his surname, because it means royalty. Hmm...the Princess falls for 'royalty'? Also, his mother is a jewel of a woman who starts a ministry with Rose in its name and the name I gave here is Leilani--which means heavenly flower, which is very fitting for such a wonderful Godly woman (based on a wonderful pastor's wife who recently passed.
As to exclamation marks--I have also been known to get carried away with them
As to food--I also love peach cobbler and cinnamon ice cream. Although my story hasn't included cobbler yet--I have included descriptions of some of my most favorite foods. ;-)
As to long winded--yep, can you tell by my comment? ;-)
Please add me to your giveaway.
Vicki

Anna Weaver Hurtt said...

Wow, what a post! I'm bookmarking this puppy! Yet another reason that you are one of my favorite authors, Julie. :)

Salyna xD said...

Wow, Julie! What a great post! Everyone's right two! What's better than two Julie's?? Lol

Julie Lessman said...

TMAINIMI ... thanks SO much for your sweet comment, and I just couldn't resist that Nick at Night comment -- SOOO cute!! :)

Hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

MARY ... it's my twin sister, Assumpta, not Juliette, although Juliette is certainly safer when it comes to nicknames ... ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, CHARLOTTE ... well, we're going to have to see what we can do about that, my friend, so GOOD LUCK!!

And did you know that I can also sign ecopies of my books not too? Sooooo fun to do!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

HEIDI SAID: "I always appreciate authors more after a visit to Seekerville :)"

AW, what a really nice thing to say, my friend -- thank you!! And we authors dearly love to be appreciated, as you will no doubt discover for yourself soon enough! :)

Hugs and good luck!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

ANG!!! Hey, girl, sooooo great to see you here, especially since I'm scarce on FB these days. I realize just how much I miss sweet friends like you when I see your name pop up, so thanks for coming by.

And that scene is one of my faves, which is why I use it a lot in my sample excerpts. I absolutely LOVE Charity, and that scene shows her true colors so very well -- all her fun planning and plotting, which is purely motivated by love. Gotta love her!!

Love you!!

Julie

Julie Lessman said...

VICKI ... sooooo cool that you really delve into your names like that with careful thought. That tells me right off the bat that you are a deep and meticulous writer, so I bet your stuff is pretty darn good. Uh, and maybe even as long-winded as mine, given your comment. ;) But that's okay, girl ... long-winded gals like us need love too (and peach cobbler!).

Hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

ANNA SAID: "Wow, what a post! I'm bookmarking this puppy! Yet another reason that you are one of my favorite authors, Julie. :)"

Aw, girl, that put a big, fat smile on my face, so THANK YOU!! Too bad this puppy (and the entire litter of my blogs) weigh so darn much they require reams of paper to print off. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

SALYNA SAID: "What's better than two Julie's??"

Oh, I don't know ... double peach cobbler???

:) Thanks SO much for coming by, my friend, and your sweet comment. Miss talking to you. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Abbi Hart said...

JULIE-I just totally squealed when I saw your response to my comment! A new Irish family Saga?! Yes please!! I can't wait to meet the Carmichaels and the O'Bryens!! I will definitely be praying for you as you write!

Elaine Manders said...

Great post, Julie. I love the examples from your memorable books. I always understand better when someone paints the picture.

I like your Mrs. Peep character. A lot of my villains get meaningful names. The bad guy in my Regency is named Sir Horcrumb. Horrible Crumb, get it? Then there was Lady Rottenbottom, but I won't explain the meaning to that one.

Yes, please put me in the drawing.

Missy Tippens said...

LOL, Elaine! I love those names!!

Vince said...

Hi Julie:

A sentence is like a suitcase. With the right expertise one can pack a lot more into it than would be expected. Of course, this will render your writing richer like maple fudge made with lots of real butter.

For example.

To a simple declarative sentence written to move the story forward one could add:

*humor
*pleasing alliteration
*a fresh turn of phrase (to replace the worn out ‘raised eyebrow’ set of clichés)
*a bit of backstory
*a flash of foreshadowing
*a double entendre with a twist of irony
*the mirroring of a more important story thread
*an historical fact
*an interesting factoid of any type
*any of a number of rewards for reading

But what’s really important is how your image appears in reverse. In psychology we had a class on reversed portraits of people.

Look at both images: which is the righteous twin and which is the sinister? Or in more romantic terms, on approaching which Julie would the hero ask to dance?

Last night when I first saw this it was the red twin all the way and now, after more thought, it’s even more so the red Julie!

What does everyone think? Can you ‘see’ the difference?

Please put me in for a copy of “Surprised by Love” to go nicely with my C. S. Lewis “Surprised by Joy”.

Vince

DebH said...

LOVE, LOVE this post Julie. Perhaps it will help me with my word count since I tend to the side of brevity in my writing. *sigh*

From my Killer Voice wip (which has a scuba diving theme):

The frustration in his voice caused her to drop her hands from her eyes to study him. “There’s nothing of note. Except...”

He drew so close, his breath brushed across her temple. “Except?”

She subconsciously swayed towards his solid shoulder, tempted to bury her face in his comforting scent. She caught herself just in time. Watch out girl, he’s dangerous waters.

~ ~ ~
I think I've a couple others, but this was the one example I thought of when you "asked" for samples.

Will keep this in mind as I attempt to finish my wip before the deadline (is NOT going well. need inspiration on how to occupy a four year old who craves mommy time after she comes home from work. hard to write while cuddling precious boy per his request...)

DebH said...

p.s. Nick @ Nite joke? spew alert.

CatMom said...

Great post, Julie. And I must say you and your TWIN are both beautiful! ;)

You always share a wealth of helpful information--you are definitely a writer I look up to.

Since my heroines always have a cat (or 2), I sometimes have the H make a comment aloud to the feline, often adding humor or revealing something the H has on her mind/heart.

Thanks again for another awesome post. Please enter me in your book drawing.

Hugs, Patti Jo :)

Julie Lessman said...

LOL, ABS ... I sooooo appreciate your enthusiasm, my sweet friend, and I do covet your prayers because I would like this book to be the contemporary book of my heart like APMP was the historical book of my heart, so any and all prayers welcome for God's heavy-duty anointing!! :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, me too, ELAINE!! Draw me a picture every time, and it seems to sear the memory into my brain all the better.

LOL ... Sir Horcrumb and Lady Rottenbottom?? I LOVE it!! Sounds like two characters to steer clear of, but GREAT additions to a plot, so bravo!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

VINCE SAID: "A sentence is like a suitcase. With the right expertise one can pack a lot more into it than would be expected."

OH,how we have MISSED you, Mr. Mooney, immeasurably!! That is a quote to keep if ever there was, but then EVERYTHING you say is generally a gem of a keeper, so I do hope you are writing all these fabulous Mooney-isms down to share with the world in a book someday!! Why should the Seekers and friends get all the fun???

And, oooooo, your list gives me a GREAT idea for a future blog!! Imagine taking one small paragraph or sentence and incorporating each of the items you listed separately to show how they would affect the meaning!! That is going into my Seeker blog file, my friend, where MANY of your suggestions go for future implementation. :)

You also said: "Look at both images: which is the righteous twin and which is the sinister?"

LOL ... you have NO IDEA how close to hitting the nail on the head you actually are. I had another pic that I wanted Keith to double reverse for me, and HOLY COW, the reverse image of that pic looked AWFUL ... like I was a deformed crank, and we were both shocked at the difference. The pic above, not so much -- I pretty much look the same in both images, although I'm with you -- I prefer the red, even though purple is one of my favorite colors. :)

Hope you are back to total health, my friend, and your vision 100% ... although everyone knows your keen insight and wisdom makes it more like 1000%. ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

VINCE SAID: "A sentence is like a suitcase. With the right expertise one can pack a lot more into it than would be expected."

OH,how we have MISSED you, Mr. Mooney, immeasurably!! That is a quote to keep if ever there was, but then EVERYTHING you say is generally a gem of a keeper, so I do hope you are writing all these fabulous Mooney-isms down to share with the world in a book someday!! Why should the Seekers and friends get all the fun???

And, oooooo, your list gives me a GREAT idea for a future blog!! Imagine taking one small paragraph or sentence and incorporating each of the items you listed separately to show how they would affect the meaning!! That is going into my Seeker blog file, my friend, where MANY of your suggestions go for future implementation. :)

You also said: "Look at both images: which is the righteous twin and which is the sinister?"

LOL ... you have NO IDEA how close to hitting the nail on the head you actually are. I had another pic that I wanted Keith to double reverse for me, and HOLY COW, the reverse image of that pic looked AWFUL ... like I was a deformed crank, and we were both shocked at the difference. The pic above, not so much -- I pretty much look the same in both images, although I'm with you -- I prefer the red, even though purple is one of my favorite colors. :)

Hope you are back to total health, my friend, and your vision 100% ... although everyone knows your keen insight and wisdom makes it more like 1000%. ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

Hi Julie! Such a helpful post, and I LOVE when you use examples from your books. Reminds of how well you integrated those "double meanings" into your writing while still telling a compelling and can't-put-it-down story!

I've used a few of these at times. One example that comes to mind is my current heroine's dog, "Lady Grantham," an ornery Boston terrier that is NOTHING like her namesake! It helps to show the heroine's character, that she loves the prim and proper world of Downton Abbey, but her dog keeps her from being TOO prim! I'm going to look for ways to use more of these to make the story more interesting.

Hope you're having a great day, and enjoying some warmer weather after all the storms!

Julie Lessman said...

DEB H SAID: "brevity in my writing."

UH, could you define that, please? I'm not familiar with that term ... ;)

And, ooooo, LOVE the "dangerous waters" phrase in a WIP with a scuba diving theme -- GOOD job, girlfriend!!

I don't have a four-year-old to contend with, but I do relate with a MUCH older "little boy" who wants my attention from dinner on ... ;)

Hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

DEB H ... I know!!! The church cracked up when our pastor used it, but he claims it's a standard joke for pastors when teaching on that Scripture. ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

DEB H ... I know!!! The church cracked up when our pastor used it, but he claims it's a standard joke for pastors when teaching on that Scripture. ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Aw, PATTI JO, what a sweet thing to say, my friend, THANK YOU!!

And did you notice that I brought the peach cobbler today??? ;)

Oh, pets are SOOO good for that extra punch, aren't they? That double fun of not only allowing the heroine to speak her mind, but adding humor and depth too, so GREAT JOB, my friend!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

STEPH!!! Thank you soooo much for your sweet comment, my friend!!

EXCELLENT use of a pet, girlfriend, juxtapositioning Lady Grantham against your polar opposite heroine to keep her in line and to reveal more about her through the dog's name -- you got it down pat!! And, YES, do incorporate more of that, but sparingly. I use a sassy parrot in my Heart of San Fran series that allows the family members and the cranky maid to take funny potshots at various family members, but my editor had me delete some because I think I wore it out ... AND her!! ;)

Hugs,
Julie

P.S. My sweet SIL Nate got a good job, so thank you for your prayers!! :)

You said: "I've used a few of these at times. One example that comes to mind is my current heroine's dog, "Lady Grantham," an ornery Boston terrier that is NOTHING like her namesake! It helps to show the heroine's character, that she loves the prim and proper world of Downton Abbey, but her dog keeps her from being TOO prim! I'm going to look for ways to use more of these to make the story more interesting.

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

That's wonderful to hear about Nate! I know firsthand how tough it can be to find a good job in this economy... and you're welcome for the prayers! Blessings on you and your writing!

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chill N said...

Good post, Julie! I always appreciate your examples -- another chance to read your writing. I especially appreciate your points about humor. So much can be relayed that way.

Thanks!
Nancy C

Kav said...

And this is why you are a master storyteller. Awesome examples here. And that clover necklace -- has me swooning over a guy who agrees to wear one. Definitely says something about his character. So that example does triple duty as far as I'm concerned.:-)

Natalie Monk said...

Thank you for these wonderful examples, Julie!!! Bookmarked it! Now I'm craving cobbler along with everyone else. Can't wait for fresh peaches from Granny's house. MMMMM!!

CatMom said...

p.s. Oh, Julie! I should've commented on your COBBLER!! Sooo very yummy! Thank you, sweet friend! :) PJ

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I'm jonesin' for potato salad now.

Without mustard.

Thanks, Julie....

sigh.

bonton said...

Have to agree with Ruth - life couldn't possibly get any better than 2 Julie's!! But - guess I'd never make a living at writing books with sinister characters, Vince - as with Patti Jo, I see the same beautiful, joyful, sweet lady in both the red and purple twin!!

Julie - I always love your Seekerville posts because as with some other commenters, I'm not a writer, but love those memory jogger excerpts of your wonderful books!! And Charity's plotting has always been one of my favorite things in your books!!

I haven't "doubled" any word power in books I've written - unless you want to consider my lengthy comments and emails "books" (LOL)!! But - hopefully, I've "doubled" your word power and inspiration given (so to speak)in your posts I've shared and books I've gifted!!

I'm sure life with the Carmichaels and O'Bryens on "Isle of Hope" WILL be the contemporary book of your heart, Julie - as your books ARE your heart, and I know this one will be even more so!! My prayers have been with you from it's first word and will be with you through the last word and on thru publication, promotion, and beyond!! I'm a wee bit like Heidi in that I "choose" my authors through my online contact with them, and their books follow - I love the authors first and loving their books is automatic!!

Sending much love from one long-winded gal (with just as much passion and love for "double" exclamation and question marks)to another!!

Bonnie

bonton said...

P.S. Agreed on the desire for that potato salad, Ruth - nothing better than home-made potato salad made with mayo!!

And Julie - you not only are going to receive heavy-duty anointing with the writing of "Isle of Hope" - it's
going to be "double" heavy-duty anointing, dear lady!!

Julie Lessman said...

Thanks, STEPH, for your prayers and blessings on my writing -- SOOO appreciated!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

NANCY C. ... I totally agree about humor, that so much can be relayed that way. And as tense as my books tend to be, humor is ESSENTIAL as a sort of pressure-cooker release, so I love it!!

Thanks for your kind words and good luck!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

KAV SAID: "And that clover necklace -- has me swooning over a guy who agrees to wear one. Definitely says something about his character. So that example does triple duty as far as I'm concerned.:-)"

OH. MY. GOODNESS!! I never even thought of that, but you are SO right, my friend!! See how deep you are? You caught that -- a totally true observation -- and it never even occurred to me, so who's the "master storyteller" now??? ;)

Love you, Kav -- you ROCK!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

LOL, NATALIE ... I sure could use some peach cobbler right about now. Hubby and I just got home from Houlihan's, and what a GREAT meal we had!! We're both stuffed, but he bought me Ghiradelli chocolates today that are calling my name. LOVE the caramel-filled ones and the mint? To die for!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

PATTI JO ... NOBODY makes cobbler like you, my friend, and if we ever have the opportunity to have lunch or dinner together, we HAVE to get cobbler or some other peach confection, okay?

Hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, RUTHY, I just KNEW we had more in common that talking a lot!!! ;)

Mayo ALL THE WAY, my friend, with dills seeds, too -- YUM!!! Colonel Sanders can keep his mustard potato salad as far as I'm concerned. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, BONNIE ... girl, what are you doing out of bed??? You need to recover so you can come visit me, my friend, and get TOTALLY well ASAP, you hear?

Love you to pieces, my sweet friend!

Hugs,
Julie

Micaela Wood said...

Thank you for such a great post, Julie! I always learn so much from you....I really think my writing has improved since I discovered you and your books last fall :)

HUGS!!

~Micaela :)

www.micaela419.wordpress.com

Julie Lessman said...

WOW, MICAELA, that is one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me -- THANK YOU!!

And I'm glad an old gal like me can show the a sweet, young thing like you the ropes. ;)

Hugs!!
JULIE

Shawnda Ferrell said...

Oh my!! So many excellent ideals on making my writing do double time. Thank you for an amazing article.
Shawnda Ferrell

Irene Olumese said...

Yes, I am surely seeing double today.

Once has God spoken, twice have I heard that all power belongs to God (Ps 62:11).
I read this morning during my devotion the following:
Make Your Word Count
"Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift." (Ephesians 4:29 MSG). In this context, I was admonished to use my words to build up and encourage.
Then, I read your article and I can see that this also has application for my writing too.

Now, you know why I am seeing double today. Thank you so much for the brilliant post. I hear you loud and clear. My word is a gift, it gotta count.
God bless you.

Julie Lessman said...

SHAWNDA, thank you SO much for coming by to read it, my friend, and seeing things through another person's perspective always helps, doesn't it??

Double wishes for a win!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, IRENE ... that gave me warm chills, my friend, but then the Word of God usually does, doesn't it?

I have found with God, NOTHING is one way or 1-dimensional, but everything in His Word usually is multi-dimensional with many applications and blessings.

I'm glad you came by, my friend -- your comment was a blessing to me!

Hugs,
Julie

Olivia said...

This is a pause for thought blog. I will print it for my notebook along with the great comments. Please enter my name in your generous drawing! I really want the new book...

Lisa Medeiros said...

Wow... you really should go into teaching people who want to write!!! :)

Kelly Goshorn said...

This was a great post from a master craftswoman! I'm anxious to try and apply these techniques in my writing! The only double duty that comes to mind at the moment is that I not only gained wisdom through your post but I probably gained a few pounds what with all this talk of peach cobbler and cinnamon ice cream! And did someone mention banana chocolate chip muffins? I'll be looking for that reference in Isle of Hope! If that double dip counts, then count me in for a crack at Surprised by Love! Blessings, Kelly

Julie Lessman said...

Thanks, OLIVIA, for your sweet comment. And I don't know about a "pause for thought blog," but I sure had to pause a LONG time to come up with these thoughts, so I guess you're right! ;)

Here's hoping it nets you a win!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

WOW, LISA ... your comment gave me cold chills, and I'll tell you why.

My prayer partners have been praying for me to teach fiction classes if that's what God wants me to do, and JUST this morning I was praying about it, too, asking God to give me an indication if that's His direction for me!!

You can imagine just how much your comment made me smile, so THANK YOU!! Fingers crossed that it nets you a win! :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

KELLY!!! SO nice to see you here, girlfriend, and I had to laugh at your food comment, especially the banana chocolate chip muffins!! Yes, for YOU, I will put them in Isle of Hope, which I am plugging away on RIGHT after I leave this comment, so when you see them in this book, KNOW that it's for you! ;)

Good luck in the contest and here's to a win!!

Hugs,
Julie

Edwina said...

Julie,
How awesome to see two of you! And to read your always superb post! The day just can't get any better!

Julie Lessman said...

Aw, EDWINA, if that isn't the sweetest comment, you sweet girl!!

SO good to see you here, and I'm hoping you're doing well.

Miss seeing you!!

Hugs,
Julie

Sparkle said...

After reading I can only think I see double scoops of ice cream, rich in taste and texture. Nick at Night caught me a little by surprise. New to your writings.

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, SPARKLE, you probably won't see this because I didn't see your comment till now, but if you are new to my writing, I hope you will consider downloading FOR FREE my 1st book, A Passion Most Pure, which won American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Book of the Year. Here's the link on Amazon if you want to cut and paste it in your browser to check it out:

http://amzn.to/1lWLQfr

Thanks for coming by and happy reading!!

Hugs,
Julie