Monday, January 18, 2016

Make Stories Zing with Well Chosen Words.


Janet here. A walk through Seekerville archives proves there are oodles of craft tips for helping writers tell a great story. Today I’m zooming in on the smallest block of story, the word. The word we authors choose is important. The way we string words together is important.


Why?


Well-chosen words paint a picture. Words awake the senses. Words set the tone. Words evoke emotion. Words impact the pace. Words reveal characterization. Words reveal conflict. Words stay with us.


Let's look at some word choices that resonated with me and I hope will with you. Most examples are from my January release The Bounty Hunter’s Redemption in stores now and some are from LaVyrle Spencer’s historical romances.  


Well chosen verbs
Strong verbs enable readers to see the action like a movie in their heads. Note LaVyrle Spencer’s verbs in the following sentence:

The door flapped open, a crowd of rowdies burst from inside and stumbled down the steps into the street.
Flapped, burst and stumbled not only show the action and pace but, also, hint at trouble. Anyone else imagining that door is attached to a saloon and a fistfight is looming?  
Well chosen nouns

In the sentence above, Spencer’s use of “a crowd of rowdies” enables us to see and hear these guys and form judgments about them. They’re certainly unruly but not villains.
Well chosen adjectives

Every character that walks onstage merits a description. The less important they are, the briefer the description. Even when describing major characters, you might choose to sprinkle descriptions in.  

The grand dame of Gnaw Bone, all three of her stacked chins quivering with intensity, leaned toward Carly.

Strong analogies and/or sensory words—sight, sound, touch, taste, smell.

From LaVyrle Spencer: He extended a hand, as limp and moist as cooked cabbage.

The word choice is vivid and reveals the heroine’s (and guarantees the reader’s) reaction to this man. You can be sure this hand doesn’t belong to the hero. Strong descriptions and vivid analogies let the reader know what’s going on in the character’s mind without introspection. I underlined this for emphasis mainly for myself as I tend to spend too much time in my characters’ heads and want to use alternate ways to reveal their thoughts.

Well chosen words add depth to our stories and can reveal a lot about our characters, much as their actions, thoughts and dialogue do.

Well chosen words can reveal characterization—
Throughout The Bounty Hunter’s Redemption, Carly uses the sense of smell to reveal who are the good and bad guys, as she does in this excerpt at her dead husband's gravesite.  


She pulled a handkerchief from her sleeve and pressed the square of linen to her nose. Though the air carried the scent of mowed grass, spring flowers and fresh-turned dirt, the vile odors that had clung to Max filled her nostrils still, as if he stood at her side, not laid out at her feet.

The scent of her little boy is a stark contrast to his father.

Carly bent, cuddling her seven-year-old son close. Henry smelled of soap, innocence, the hope of new beginnings.

Well chosen words reveal the character’s emotional state.
A distance from town, the winding road bordered woods, shooting his thoughts back to the location of that cottage in Carly’s dream. Except, this woods was littered with fallen trees and broken limbs, probably the result of a winter ice storm. A hardscrabble reminder woods weren’t some fantasy world of perfection. And fairy tales were just that. Myths. Not something to hang anyone’s future on.


The woods Nate passed in this passage held some upright, well-rooted trees, but he has no hope for a future with Carly and what he notices fits his outlook and hopefully ups the emotion for the reader.


In the next passage, Nate has reluctantly agreed to accompany his sister to church. His view of the setting reveals his relationship with God.


Gnaw Bone Christian Church cast a morning shadow, the steeple’s silhouette pointing right at Nate like the finger of God.


Misspoken words or incorrect grammar shows a character’s level of education and/or adds humor.

The skinny guy’s gaze narrowed. “Ah, you’re that there bounty hunter. I’m Lester Harders and I ain’t wanted for nothing but being late to supper.” He shook Nate’s hand. “This here’s my twin Lloyd. Iffen you need a face for a poster, he’s the guilty one.”

My apologies to Audra for using her last name for the Harders twins.

Well chosen words reveal the character’s conflict:
Draw a picture of this cowboy with words.
Conflict isn’t only disagreements or clashing goals. In a romance, caring about the other character is a conflict when that’s the last thing she wants.

Hat in hand, Nate stood in the entrance, his rugged jaw dark with stubble, his gray eyes probing, his holstered gun riding his hip. He reminded her of their first meeting here in this shop. She’d thought him dangerous then and he looked dangerous now.

Her heart tripped in her chest. Dangerous and oh, so tempting.


Well chosen words evoke emotion.
Words can bring tears to our eyes, make us laugh out loud, make us angry or sigh. I’m not referring to using words like sad, angry or happy that tell the emotion. Passages of well chosen words will make the reader feel something.


In the following scene, Carly’s goal is to protect Henry from being hurt when Nate inevitably leaves. But just the opposite happens. Worse, the talk with her son opens Carly’s old wounds.


“You’re a wonderful boy, Henry.” She groped for the right words to comfort her son. “You’re not a mistake. Your pa wasn’t good with praise.”

The flash of skepticism in Henry’s eyes knotted her stomach. Why had she whitewashed the truth?

His chin resting on his chest, Henry laid his hands in his lap, the meal forgotten. “Nate likes me,” he said with a sniff.


“Yes, he does.” No wonder Henry had put Nate on a pedestal. A kind word, a thoughtful gift, a small deed were huge to a boy starving for a man’s approval. Now Nate was teaching Henry to ride, the highlight of her son’s young life, increasing his regard.


Henry sighed. “I wish Nate was my pa.”


Carly’s pulse tripped. “Nate isn’t planning to live in Gnaw Bone. He’s here…visiting Anna. He might have to leave soon.”


“He’s gotta get the bad guys, Mama.” Henry sat straight, a smile on his face. 
“When he does, he’ll come back. Know why I know?”


“Why?” she whispered.


“God bringed him to us.”


“Why do you say that?”


“`Cuz I prayed for a new dad. Nate’s him.”


Henry’s words churned inside her. Not only had Carly failed to convince her son Nate wasn’t a man to count on, she had failed to realize how desperately Henry wanted a pa.

Every muscle in Carly’s body tightened, turning her stomach into a queasy, quivering mess. Matrimony was out of the question. No matter how much she tried to put Max Richards out of her mind and move on with her life, she couldn’t. She’d been married to a polecat and couldn’t get rid of his stench.


Let’s chat. Share one sentence that impacted you. Either a sentence you wrote or a sentence you read for a chance to win a copy of The Bounty Hunter’s Redemption. Actually any comment gives you a chance to win.


As we share our sentences, grab a plate. I brought Alpha-Bits cereal to form words as we down a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage and gravy, fruit and coffeecake.


 Staking his claim

Recently widowed Carly Richards is shocked when a bounty hunter declares her seamstress shop belongs to his sister. But Nate Sergeant has proof—the deed her lawless husband gambled away without her knowledge. Now Carly must fight for her home and her son’s future. And until a judge arrives to settle ownership, she’s not budging…despite Nate’s surprisingly kind demeanor—and dashing good looks.

Nate’s faced the meanest outlaws in the land—but this petite, strong-willed seamstress may be his greatest challenge. He owes his sister his life, so he’s determined she’ll have the property that’s legally hers. But as Nate and Carly battle for ownership, Nate realizes there’s something he overlooked—the hope of building a family with Carly and her adorable son. 


106 comments:

Marianne Barkman said...

Janet, I just finished reading THE BOUNTY HUNTER'S REDEMPTION, and though I have never enjoyed the sense of smell (or maybe because of that) I did notice how you used this. I loved the story and will post a review shortly. Great post! Thanks

Bettie said...

I'm opening my copy of Bounty Hunters Redemption right now. I will be reading it with my SENSES awakened. Thanks for your insights.

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, JANET! Yes, word choice can evoke emotions so clearly--able to place the reader right in the middle of living a scene along with the hero or heroine. Wonderful examples. Thank you!

Janet Dean said...

Good morning, MARIANNE. I'm curious why you don't enjoy the sense of smell. If your nose is as sensitive to odors as mine, it can be overwhelming. Though I love the aroma of food cooking, fresh mown grass, the balmy, salty scent of the sea, etc. there's the chemical odors and strong perfume that leave a taste in my mouth. Can you relate?

Thank you for reading and loving The Bounty Hunter's Redemption, and for writing a review. You're a blessing.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi BETTIE. yay another reader of The Bounty Hunter's Redemption! Thank you! I hope you enjoy the book.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hello GLYNNA. Emotion is so vital to a story, but not easy to write fresh. I'm hoping examples from Villagers of word choice that impacted them will feed all of our creativity.

Are you up to your knees in snow?

Janet

Jill Weatherholt said...

Great examples, Janet. Reading or writing a scene with a child always turns on the waterworks for me. Poor little Henry...just look at that face.

Janet Dean said...

JILL, good morning! Kids tug at the heartstrings, too. Henry is so lovable and upbeat--until his world takes a spin.

Janet

Jackie said...

Hi Janet,

What a great post! So many good examples and hard to choose a favorite line, but it might be this: “`Cuz I prayed for a new dad. Nate’s him.” Now there's a lot of pressure for a single mom. Way to go!

Thanks for sharing.

Glynna Kaye said...

JANET -- WAY MORE than knee-high snow on the ground!! We got 3-4 inches last Friday--- on top of the 30+ inches we got in only 4 days time the previous week!

Janet Dean said...

Hi Jackie, isn't that the truth? Especially for a single mom who'd survived a bad marriage.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

GLYNNA, yikes! You needed a truck with a blade. Surely you didn't shovel all that by hand.

Janet

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I love word choices. I tend to fall into patterns, and thank the Good Lord above for great editors.

Word choices paint the big picture and add the flavor of lyricism or cynicism or indifference and that sets the stage for the reader's enjoyment of the story.

I love LaVyrle Spencer's later work. Her single titles have been on my keeper shelf for decades. She wove a gripping story that bound us, heart to heart. When Vince talks about romance realism, I think LaVyrle.

Jan Drexler said...

Good morning, Janet!

Your underlined sentence really hit me: Strong descriptions and vivid analogies let the reader know what’s going on in the character’s mind without introspection.

I try not to overdo introspection, but I never thought of well-chosen words substituting for it. Something to keep in mind while I'm working today!

Thank you :)

J Baugh said...

Very helpful post! Thank you!

Marianne Barkman said...

Janet, I can't smell. I've got a taster, but the only thing I can smell is strong smells. I an tell a perfume isle in the store by a headache coming on, and the last time I went to Bushart Gardens, I got a migraine. Not fun. As far as I know I've never been able to smell.

Dana R. Lynn said...

I really loved this post, Janet. One of my favorites. I, too, tend to be too much in my characters' heads. Great reminders. The Bounty Hunter's Redemption just moved up on my TBR pile.

I have the day off because it is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I'm going to be spending a large chunk of it trying to get well-chosen words in on my WIP. :)

Vince said...

Hi Janet:

I'm always happy when you talk about words. As an old copywriter, I know a writer has to be very careful using words because words carry a lot of hidden connotations which can turn what you're saying into the opposite meaning by the time a reader gets done chewing on them! :)

A sentence I notice at once is the one below that you also used as an example:

"Gnaw Bone Christian Church cast a morning shadow, the steeple’s silhouette pointing right at Nate like the finger of God."

It seemed to me that in this book you used the setting to mirror the emotional state of your characters to a far greater degree than in your other books. As you develop as a writer, do you sometimes learn something new that you like and then emphasize that new knowledge in your current WIP?

I sometimes notice this with authors I read often as when a lot of good examples of 'physical proxies' start popping up in the text and I think, "Oh, she's discovered 'physical proxies' and now we're going to see an abundance of them." (Of course, I'm not a typical reader.)

I also really liked the below sentences from "The Bounty Hunter's Redemption" but tell me this: is the below passage introspection into the hero's head or is it free indirect discourse with the narrator speaking to the reader as if it is the hero thinking? (The style made me think of Jane Austen.)

"She hustled off. A woman on a mission, no doubt hoping Sheriff Truitt would ride him out of town, tarred and feathered."

Then there is this passage I really liked:

"The skinny guy’s gaze narrowed. 'Ah, you’re that there bounty hunter. I’m Lester Harders and I ain’t wanted for nothing but being late to supper.' He shook Nate’s hand. 'This here’s my twin Lloyd. Iffen you need a face for a poster, he’s the guilty one.' ”

When I read the words 'that there bounty hunter' I immediately visualized Festus on "Gunsmoke" speaking.

If I did not know any better I would have said that this passage was written by Mary.

I always welcome a little more humor in romances. I hope you keep this up.

I have all your books so I am already a big winner!

Vince

P.S. I think the sheriff and the hero's sister would make a wonderful Christmas novella. I see the Harder boys needing wedding dresses for their mail order brides, Audra and Ruthy, (who are wanted wrongfully in New York City for various misdemeanors.)

Myra Johnson said...

Such great examples--thanks, Janet!

As JAN said, I really appreciate the reminder about using description and analogies to show what's going on inside a character's head.

Oh my, Alpha-Bits! Haven't thought of that cereal in ages! F-U-N!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Janet, I agree. Excellent post and excellent reminder to really make our words work. Every word needs to contribute.

Tina Radcliffe said...

I actually think all of Janet's book are humorous, she does that so subtly and so well.

Tina Radcliffe said...

And remind me to stay clear of Gnaw Bone Christian Church.

Kav said...

Love the way you explain this, Janet, and all the examples. That helps so much. I can see how applying these strategies can pack so much more into a read without overwhelming the story with excess descriptions. I have read The Bounty Hunter's Redemption and loved it. One of my favourite phrases is how Nate thinks of Carly -- like a "female tinderbox". Two words that bring a depth of insight not only into Carly's personality, but the relationship between the two.

Debra E. Marvin said...

there's nothing like the thrill of finding 'the' word that makes a sentence sing! Excellent examples Janet!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Excuse this random comment. The Great Expectations Contest needs 5 unpublished authors to judge inspirational. Desperate Plea to please judge if you are able.

http://www.ntrwa.org/contest/contest.aspx

Myra Johnson said...

Gotta love (???) a town named Gnaw Bone!!!!

kaybee said...

Janet, this is a helpful post. I liked the bent and broken trees and the old woman's triple chins. A unique way of expressing both. We need to polish every word, like a stone in a tumbler, so our sentences and paragraphs will shine.
It just stopped snowing today, looks like about 4 inches. I'm not technically "off" today because I'm in journalism, but nothing is open because of Martin Luther King Day so I am getting caught up on a lot of things.
Kathy B

Pam Hillman said...

Love this, Janet. Some great examples of choosing just the right words. This brings to mind a recent brainstorming session I was in. The author needed scene ideas to flesh out the conflict between the hero and heroine and someone else in the group picked up on several words in a short excerpt she read and we were able to branch out and think of scenes that hinged on those words.

Mary Connealy said...

Janet, I loved The Bounty Hunter's Redemption. You paint with words as well as anyone in the writing bizness!

Mary Connealy said...

Myra, isn't Gnaw Bone perfect? It makes me wish I'd done better in every aspect of my writing. Get the exact right words! Great post!

Janet Dean said...

Ruthy, great points! LaVyrle had a gift and her books remain on my shelves.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Good morning, Jan. I love to linger in my characters' thoughts. Yet it's far better to show their thoughts through how they see the world around them. I'm working on that!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi J Baugh. You're welcome. Thanks for stopping in Seekerville.

Janet

CatMom said...

This is a WOW! post for me, Janet - - thank you!!
These examples are wonderful - - sooo many pictures conjured up by words. AND this is exactly what I needed right now because I'm polishing my WIP and trying to create better images for the reader. I've felt kind of in a rut with my "same old" words and descriptions - - so this has really been helpful. :)
One line in particular that really grabbed my attention was when Nate is going to church: ...the steeple's silhouette pointing right at Nate like the finger of God.
WOW - - that was powerful!!
Thanks again for sharing your wisdom with us - - I LOVE Seekerville!
Hugs, Patti Jo

Janet Dean said...

Marianne, Not to be able to smell bubble gum as a kid is sad! I'm sorry you can't smell lighter scents, but glad your sense of taste works. I get headaches from strong odors and that yucky taste in my mouth. Right now I'm experimenting with different liquid hand soaps, looking for one I can tolerate.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Dana, Nice to know others struggle with overuse of introspection. I love to read it, too. Through it's no doubt a good thing I can't decipher real people's thoughts. :-) Enjoy your day off writing well chosen words!

Janet

Mary Connealy said...

Well, I just went and thumbed through my novella in the Lassoed by Marriage collection, looking for the perfect sentence....which I couldn't find.

But then I sort of got into the story so now I've been reading for about a half hour.

Sorry about that.

Signed,
Mary 'Easily Distracted' Connealy

Debby Giusti said...

Janet, your prose is so beautiful! Each word packed with emotion! I'm feeling this story. Henry's desire for a father tugs at my heart! Such richness throughout!!!

As you mentioned, each word is important. Love those action verbs! And, limp cabbage! Great! And the three chins! Wow! All so good!

I often think of Margie Lawson's workshops when she talks about having the power word be the last one in a sentence. That works well when building suspense, IMHO.

Missy Tippens said...

Janet, I loved this post! And this is one of my favorite lines ever from a book: The grand dame of Gnaw Bone, all three of her stacked chins quivering with intensity, leaned toward Carly.

LoL! I fell in love with that sentence the first time I read it. :)

Sandra Leesmith said...

Great post Janet. You really do have wonderful words in your stories. I have your book and now am going to move it up to the top of the tbr pile. Sounds marvelous.

Thanks for reminding us to look for those powerful words.

Janet Dean said...

Hi Vince, I try to show the character by the way he views the setting and to use the setting to reveal and trigger emotion in the character and hopefully in the reader. So it's intentional.

That's Nate's thought as he watches Carly make a beeline to the sheriff's office. Not a narrator, though that would be cool.

The oldster secondary characters in my last four or five books either speak "countrified" or spew a humorous wisdom. Characters like Flossie in Last Minute Bride, Oscar and Cecil in An Inconvenient Match, the three bench sitters in The Bride Wore Spurs and the Harders twins in The Bounty Hunter's Redemption. I didn't have these people in my first three books. I'm learning the value of wacky characters to add humor. But they need more of a purpose to justify their existence such as teaching the characters something or telling them something important to the plot.

Love your novella ideas! Thanks for your sweet encouraging words.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Myra! I have this image of all of us sitting at a table, spelling out milk drenched words with your Alpha-Bit cereal. LOL Only in Seekerville!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Tina, make our words work. Love it! I'm assuming most writers polish our words during editing but I struggle to write emotionally when I'm in the edit phase. It's harder for me to become the character then. The reason I keep revising instead of getting a fast rough draft.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Tina, you made my day! I know my books have characters with troubled pasts who are often knee deep in conflict so I was afraid the humor got lost. Thanks!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

LOL, Tina! You're so funny! Not only in Seekerville but also in your stories, especially your novellas. I love your dry sense of humor!!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Kav, you got my intent with the female tinderbox. Thanks for mentioning it. I liked petite fortress, too. Small but not about to let anyone harm her son.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

DEBRA, thanks. I love talking writing. Wish some of you would share examples from your own stories. We all learn so much from great examples.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

MYRA, I had to use Gnaw Bone in a book, as I've passed through it and heard of it for ages. Where the name came from fascinated me. Wikipedia said the original French settlement in the area was called Narbonne, but English settlers heard it as Gnaw Bone. Another explanation was more folksy. A man inquired about a man and was told, "I seed him over at the Hawkins place a gnawin' on a bone." Fun to contemplate.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

KATHY B, love the comparison of polishing our words to polishing stones in a tumbler. Perfect!

Glad you've got some time today to get caught up.

Janet

Vince said...

Hi Janet:

You may well have a lot more humor in your books than I realized. That's because you have so many other things going on that I pay attention to because I can learn from them. If other authors see the humor, then it is surely there. From now on I'll be looking for the humor.

Vince

Janet Dean said...

PAM, what a great idea! You should write a post on how to use well chosen words to trigger scene ideas.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

MARY, thanks. If this is true, my slowness may come from paint taking a long time to dry. ;-)

Vince compared my writing to yours. I'm honored!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Patti Jo, bless you! Seekerville LOVES you and all those who come to play with us.
Have fun polishing.

Janet

Missy Tippens said...

I'm with Dana and Jan on that great underlined sentence, Janet. Such a great reminder. I'm working on a proposal now, and I know I have too much introspection already.

Missy Tippens said...

Vince, I love your novella idea for Janet!! :)

Janet Dean said...

MARY, that's the problem with looking for examples--we get caught up in the story! I loved Runaway Bride. Here's some well chosen words that painted a picture for me.

Their hands held tight, they exchanged a firm nod, then fled together into the night.

That sentence shows their love, their determination and their action in the face of danger. Well done!

Janet

Missy Tippens said...

Ruthy and Patti Jo, I'm the same way getting stuck in my ruts with my same words. :)

Janet Dean said...

DEBBY, excellent point! The way we put well chosen words together really adds to their impact. I've taken Margie's workshops and try to end sentences with the strongest word. This is even more important with suspense. I marvel how you keep characters in a state of fear while falling in love.

Janet

Natalie Monk said...

Great post, Janet. Gets me to thinking. Every word is crucial! Thanks so much for sharing these examples with us.

Janet Dean said...

MISSY, I doubt the grand dame of Gnaw Bone would appreciate the description as much as you do. But thanks!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi SANDRA. We're wordsmiths. Doesn't that sound cool? Yet it's true.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

VINCE, I wonder if we writers are so analytical that we can't just sit back and enjoy the story. I'm guessing that's part of it.

Hope you're feeling better today.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

MISSY, some writers tell the story with mostly dialogue and action. Others love to wallow in the characters minds like a pig in the mud. I'm one of those. Care must be taken to hose myself off and find other ways to let the reader in on what they're thinking.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

NATALIE, hope the examples help.

I do want to add that it's hard to write an entire book with well chosen words, especially with deadlines. I'd suggest using them early to hook readers and late to satisfy readers and during big pivotal scenes.

Be people watchers. Jot down the briefest description of their most interesting characteristics. As to the description of the grand dame's stacked chins, if you know what these people look like--the secondary characters--stop a minute and think of someone you know who resembles them. In high school I took English literature after lunch. The teacher had three chins that she'd press down on when she was stifling a belch. Then I added something that shows this person's attitude, thus her three chins are quivering with intensity. I gave her the title of grand dame of Gnaw Bone as it struck me as funny, but she was the richest woman in town. You don't have to always use people's names in the opening if a tagline will do.

Janet

Sarah Claucherty said...

I'm with Missy! That quivering stack of chins is such a vivid--and hilarious--sentence. So visual, I instantly fell into the scene and wanted to know what happens next.

What a story about your English lit teacher, Janet! So many multi-chinned visuals whirling in my head now.

Count me in for the giveaway! Thanks for a fun and oh-so-useful post today :)

Janet Dean said...

Thanks SARAH. I felt a bit guilty telling where I got the descriptive detail, as I don't like poking fun at real people.

Janet

Vince said...

Hi Janet:

You asked:

"VINCE, I wonder if we writers are so analytical that we can't just sit back and enjoy the story. I'm guessing that's part of it."

That may be the case with writers; however, in my case there is a different reason. Back when I was a teenager, I read a book by Charles Van Doren and Mortimer J. Adler called, "How to Read a Book." This was a very serious book, 449 pages long, (Adler is a philosopher), which went into how to read a book on many different levels and how to read different kinds of books. This was very heavy reading and it changed how I've read books for the rest of my life.

I have since always read books on many different levels -- even to the point of talking back to the authors as the book teaches. I suggest anyone interested in reading a book for all that it is worth to look at this book on Amazon. Take a look at the table of contents. It's a great book. Also I have found this information useful when editing a book. Editing can also be done on many different levels.

BTW: Charles Van Doren is the same man who was ruined academically when he was caught fixing the hit Quiz show 21 in 1959. It killed quiz shows for decades. However, before that, when he wrote the book, he was a highly respected Classical academic.

Janet Dean said...

VINCE, I marvel that you read this book as a teenager. Surely, not typical fare. Was it recommended to you or was the quiz show scandal part of the draw? I'm trying to decide if it would be fun to hear you talk back to authors. :-)

Janet

Sally Shupe said...

This post is filled with useful information. Thank you! I love LaVyrle Spencer too.

Just Commonly said...

Janet, it is hard to pick one sentence, but ever since I've read Isle of Hope, some of it's "quotable quotes" pops into my head often. One is "there is no hope without forgiveness", that I'm pretty sure I quoted at least twice already since.

I didn't get a chance to through all the fun comments, which I always find entertaining. So will do so when I'm on a computer. =) Have a great MLK, Jr. day.

blessings to all.

Beth Schwarzlose said...

"One choice a future makes." Shadows by Travis Inman
I don't think the author used this line until the end (although it was also the subtitle) but this line was even more profound after reading the book.
Thank you for the giveaway!

Caryl Kane said...

Great article Janet! Hope you are enjoying your day!

Chill N said...

Janet, your underlined sentence stresses what I need to me more aware of. I like being in the character's thoughts because I really like deep POV -- I feel much more invested in the story as I read (and write). But wow, the thought of describing someone's hand as limp and moist as cooked cabbage is fantastic.

Your post challenges me to concentrate more on word choice. That said, I've been known to go to to my well-used thesaurus looking for a right word that has the right connotation while also being a word the character would use. Your use of dialogue to relay info about the character's background, education level, etc., is admirable.

Your book is right there on my iPad, waiting for me to finish the one I'm reading now. Todays excerpts are tempting me to set the other book aside for a while :-)

That is a super drawing of the man on horseback!

Nancy C

Janet Dean said...

Hi SALLY. LaVyrle quit attending RWA the year before I went to my first conference. Was always sorry I didn't get to meet her.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi JUST COMMONLY, great quote of well chosen words. Julie rocks!

I'm thankful for Martin Luther King's peaceful protest marches and inspiring speeches. We need more of that today.

Janet

Chill N said...

P.S. When I think of humor and word choice, I think of Craig Johnson's books. The hero thinks of his Indian friend, Henry Standing Bear, as 'Bear' or 'The Cheyenne Nation' -- and his daughter, an attorney, is 'The Greatest Legal Mind Of Our Time.' For me, the words tell me as much about the hero as they do about the people to whom he's referring.

Janet Dean said...

BETH, wow, thanks for sharing that line. Thankfully with God's help, we can start over, if that choice wasn't a good one. Though there are consequences.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

CARYL, thank you. I am enjoying my day. The sun is shining and fooling me about the temp, which is really low. I'm going out for dinner to celebrate a friend's birthday and will dress warm. Enjoy the rest of your day!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

NANCY, thanks! I love deep POV, too. Hope you enjoy The Bounty Hunter's Redemption whenever you read it.

I was blown away by the quality of the cowboy drawing. Wish I had that talent, but guess I'd better settle with trying to draw him with words. :-)

Janet

Mary Connealy said...

Janet GNAW BONE is a real town? Wow. I love that.
We have a town nearby named Peever. Which we drive by every year on our way to a fishing vacation.

Peever. It always makes me smile....because it does NOT sound tough.

Mary Connealy said...

I always (mostly) use fictionalize towns...including names. But if it's a New Mexico town I might hunt through Arizona town names so the town has a sound to it that someone really used.

Vince said...

Hi Janet:

At the time I discovered "How to Read A Book", my cousin's husband was in the Classics book club. These were classic books in classic book bindings that looked great on a book shelf.

I wanted to read a few classics myself. I went into the library to look for some classics and discovered "How to Read A Book". I thought it would be a good idea to read a book on how to read a book before I put a lot of time in reading the classics.

About two years later "The Lifetime Reading Plan came out by Clifton Fadiman which gave a list of the great books which an educated person should read in a lifetime. I bought that book and have been reading these books ever since.

I never associated Charles Van Doren with the quiz show scandals until recently. I always thought they were two different people.

Mortimer J. Adler was a famous American philosopher who wrote many philosophy books for the general public not fellow philosophers. I read some of those books later when I was in the Air Force.

As for talking back to authors, that's part of how to read a book. At one of the levels at which you read a book you are asked to question what the author is saying. Then as you read further you hope to see if the author has anticipated your questions and if he answers them.

This is an example of proactive reading and was great practice for college and doing philosophy.

That's the story.

Vince

Sally Shupe said...

Oh, that's just not right, Janet. I'm sorry you didn't get to meet her. That would have been awesome!

bonton said...

Loved reading all the quotes in your post, Janet!! I had read the storyline of "The Bounty Hunter's Redemption" elsewhere and was already attracted to it, your quotes from Henry sealed the deal!! I'm a "sucker" for the kids in stories!!

Please drop my name in the drawing for a copy of your book!! Thank you and congrats!!

DebH said...

hi Janet
Late to the post today, but I really enjoyed your examples. The post also explains why I love Seeker books so much. I believe all of you make wonderful word choices because I'm always greatly satisfied when I reach THE END of Seeker books.

Loved the three chins sentence. Really "fleshed" out the character in one sentence. also love the name of the town. Can't believe Gnaw Bone is a real town name. I'm sure I'll be checking out small town names in the future for story ideas.

Please put me in the draw for The Bounty Hunter's Redemption.

Janet Dean said...

MARY, Peever sounds way too innocent to set a western in. Wonder where the name came from. Gnaw Bone is nothing like the real town so it's fictionalized.

Janet

Laura Conner Kestner said...

Very interesting post - thank you! I get so caught up in the "big picture" problems sometimes that it's easy for me to lose sight of the importance of the individual words and sentences. I will definitely be using some of your tips and suggestions, including the "people watching" idea. Like nearly everyone else, I loved the "three chins" sentence - you made it so easy to see that character in my head!

Janet Dean said...

VINCE, thanks for the explanation. I own one leather bound classic. Probably picked it up at a garage sale. When I was growing up my parents belonged to the Reader's Digest book club. I suspect that raised an eyebrow. :-)

How to Read a Book has benefited you through most of your life. That is cool!

Janet


Janet Dean said...

Hi SALLY. It would've been. I certainly would've attended the literary signing to get a signed copy of one of her books.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Bonton, I love kids in stories, too. I think you'll enjoy Henry!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi DEBH, Chuckling at the fleshed out pun. Love it!

I normally make up the names of my towns but couldn't resist using Gnaw Bone, though I explained in my Dear Reader letter that it's nothing like the real place.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

LAURA, I appreciate your kind words. Wishing you the best with your writing!

Janet

Sierra Faith said...

One of my favorite quotes is from Nadine Brandes's book: A Time to Speak.
"We have to become uncomfortable in our lives, to become comfortable in our faith." it has always stuck with me!

Deanna Stevens said...

God bringed him to us.. I liked that.. that's just how I think a kid would talk!

Janet Dean said...

Hi SIERRA. Well chosen words do stick with you, especially when those words impact our faith. Thanks for sharing.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi DEANNA. Glad you approve. Kids need to sound like kids, not like miniature adults or toddlers.

Janet

Lee Carver said...

I would like to know whether you search for just the right word while doing the first draft, or if most of these choices come later. I have friends who write in 30-minute challenges for word number. A multi-published author said in a class at the ACFW Conference that she writes up to 8,000 words per day. I would be able to write faster if I simply recorded the plot and dialogue without the kind of word polish you describe. My normal mode is to write 1,000 or more words per day, 6 days per week, and have them reasonably polished. The next day I review, change wordings, add senses and such, and keep writing. An on-line crit group puts in their thoughts, and the editing continues until I send the novel to my agent. What is your process?

Janet Dean said...

Hi Lee, 1k a day 6 days a week and you'll soon have a book written. I do not write a fast draft. For those who do, I would think the well chosen words would come in the revision process. Some of my word choices just appear with no conscious thought. Others require digging deep. I revise as I write but still need to polish many times after the book is written.

Janet

Julie Lessman said...

Janet, forgive my tardiness, but I just got home from an out-of-town funeral late last night, but I really enjoyed this post! Reading all the clips from your new book makes me all the more excited, so I'm hoping to get to it this week or next, before I dig into my eight Rita books I have to judge. No doubt your book will be the last vestige of peace and innocence I have for a while since I have received all secular books. :(

The one sentence that impacted me was this one of YOURS!! "The grand dame of Gnaw Bone, all three of her stacked chins quivering with intensity, leaned toward Carly.

Oh my goodness, what a visual, my friend -- EXCELLENT!! And did you make up the town of Gnaw Bone, because I LOVE IT!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

ANNIE!! Thank you sooooo much for your sweet comment about IOH -- SO appreciate it and YOU!!

Hugs,
Julie

Barbara Scott said...

Janet, I'm so bummed I missed your post yesterday. Lots of "stuff" happened that kept me occupied elsewhere.

Anyway, I'm in the middle of reading The Bounty Hunter’s Redemption and loved that first scene with your Carly and her son Henry standing at the graveside of her rotten husband. Your description popped and told us everything we needed to know about Max: "She pulled a handkerchief from her sleeve and pressed the square of linen to her nose. Though the air carried the scent of mowed grass, spring flowers and fresh-turned dirt, the vile odors that had clung to Max filled her nostrils still, as if he stood at her side, not laid out at her feet."

When you described the stench of Max coming off a three-day drunk, I could almost smell him. Yuck! Can't wait for the ending. :)

Trixi said...

I haven't YET read "The Bounty Hunter's Redemption" (though it IS on my wanted list!), I do like these examples right here......
“God bringed him to us.
Why do you say that?`
Cuz I prayed for a new dad. Nate’s him.”

It evokes emotion in me, places a smile on my face & warms my little old heart....the simple faith of a child! Makes me want to hug that little boy while trying to hide my tears :-)

And here.....
"Hat in hand, Nate stood in the entrance, his rugged jaw dark with stubble, his gray eyes probing, his holstered gun riding his hip."

It paints a vivid picture in my mind! I can see the glint in his eyes, feel the waves of masculinity pouring off of him (like electrical charged air) & know he's not one to mess with. Like the next sentence says "Dangerous and oh so tempting" WOW :-)

I love it when an author can make me FEEL, bringing to life what's in the pages of the book. As I said before, that'll keep this reader coming back for more!! Please add my name to win a copy of this book, thank you! :-)

Janet Dean said...

JULIE, Never too late here in Seekerville. Gnaw Bone is a real place in Indiana, way smaller than my fictionalized version. The name has always charmed me.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi BARBARA, thanks! I hope you enjoy the book and the ending.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

TRIXI, you're a wonderful encourager! Thanks for your interest in The Bounty Hunter's Redemption!

Janet

Lori_Soard said...

Hi Janet,

Thanks for telling me about this site. I'm enjoying browsing around and reading some of the posts, etc. I have always loved how simply changing a word can change the meaning of a story in so many ways, so I found this particular post really interesting. Some words have all these hidden undertones. You have to love the English language. :)