Got two minutes? Then check out this week’s quick tip:
Disclaimer: All of my tips are suggestions, and are only my opinion. And, for the most part, there are exceptions when going against my advice will make your story read better. Take what works, leave the rest.
In order to bring your story to life, it’s best to write with specificity. Rather than a tree, say ‘spruce,’ or rather than a dog say ‘Doberman,’ instead of gun say ‘Ruger,’ etc. It can be overdone, though, sort of like Joey on Friends when he wrote a letter to the adoption agency to help Monica and Chandler. He used a Thesaurus to sound more intelligent. He literally used the Thesaurus for every word, so this sentence:
They are warm, nice, people with big hearts.
They are humid prepossessing Homo Sapiens with full sized aortic pumps.
See, most of the time, less is more. :)
You can make this sort of mistake in your writing, too. In this example, specificity is definitely overdone:
She climbed into the red Toyota Corolla and slid onto the black vinyl seat. After placing her navy blue Prada handbag with the outside pockets lined in metal studs next to her, she slid the silver key into the ignition. She looked through the clear, glass windshield. A tall, brown-haired teenager on a black and red Flowboard skateboard wearing a hoodie and listening to an ipod glided along the cement sidewalk…
Well, I’m sure you get the idea. :)
Sometimes I do well with this, and sometimes, not so much. Here are a few examples from my own stories, the good and the bad:
Liberty Awakened, Isle of Fangs Book 1:
She pressed her face to the taxi window so she wouldn’t miss a thing. The water of the South Pacific was a crystal clear blue-green. She could actually make out movement of fish below the surface when the taxi slowed to take a sharp turn. Tall slender palm trees bordered the road, stretching like ballerinas toward the vivid blue of the sky. It was late afternoon, and the sun shimmered like molten gold.
She lifted the garland of pink-tipped petals to her nose, inhaling the fragrant scent of the plumeria lei a pretty Polynesian girl had placed around her neck when she stepped off the plane. She hadn’t been here an hour and was already receiving the entire island experience. She would feel as though she’d landed in paradise if her reasons for coming were a little less troubling.
Her mouth dropped open when they passed a row of huts suspended above the ocean on stilts. “What are those?” she blurted.
“They’re bungalows. The owners rent them out, mostly to tourists. Tourists eat that shit up.”
Not bad, right? But, maybe I could have said ‘thatched’ huts on ‘wooden’ stilts?
From Without Mercy:
Three black-clad, hooded figures, each with a machinegun slung over their shoulder, roamed among the terrified employees crouched on the floor.
China dropped into a squat behind the chair, eyes tightly closed, back pressed to the desk. Broken glass crunched beneath her feet as she shifted, trying to make herself invisible. A scream strangled her throat. She clamped a hand over her mouth to stop it, and wet stickiness clung to her palm.
She pulled her hand away and held it in front of her face.
Blood. She gagged, trying to swallow back a rush of bile. She looked down at her clothing, and a strangled sob escaped.
Oh, God. She was wearing Sophie’s blood.
She squeezed her eyes shut again, praying the shooter hadn’t heard her scream. I’m going to die…I’ll never see Emma again…
This is an extremely tense scene, so we wouldn’t want to add a lot of detail, such as ‘Black Leather Swivel Desk Chair’ or ‘Large Cherry Wood Desk’ but one thing I could have done is been more specific with ‘clothing.’ I think this would have worked better, don’t you?
She looked down at her red-spattered peach blouse, and a strangled sob escaped.
Most of us probably automatically write using specific, vivid words, but this is just a reminder to consider as you’re revising (not during the first draft, just get the story down, regardless of how poorly written) and perhaps find ways to paint a clearer picture for your readers.
How about you? Are you vague in your descriptions, or do you use vivid imagery?
Until next time…happy writing!
(NOTE: If you have sent pages to me and I have not responded, don’t worry. I’m a bit behind, but will catch up soon. If you haven’t heard from me a few weeks after you send me the pages, it would be a good idea to shoot me a follow-up email) *** If you would like to send me a few sample pages (around 7500 words or so, even though I will not edit that many on the blog. It just gives me more to choose from) for me to edit and share on an upcoming blog post, please do so in the body of an email to AliciaMDean@aol.com. Please use the subject line: “Blog Submission” This is for published or unpublished authors. In the email, please include whether you would like me to use your name or keep it anonymous, and whether or not you would like me to include any contact info or buy info for your books. Also, you can let me know if you would like for me to run my edits by you before posting on the blog. Please keep in mind, this is for samples to use for blog posts. I will not edit or use samples from all the submissions I receive, but I will use as many as possible.
FREE on Kindle Unlimited!!!
How to write a novel? That is the question. There are probably as many answers to that question as there are people who ask it.
Wanting to write and actually doing it are two very different things. I am well acquainted with the sometimes grueling process of churning out a story. Over the years, I have tried many methods for creating and completing manuscripts, and have tweaked and honed it down to a workable (for me) process.
Using specific examples from one of my own novels, Without Mercy, I share my method in this mini how to book. The first eight steps actually deal with plotting while the last two are designed to help expand your outline into a well-developed draft. There is no one, perfect way to create a story, but there will be a method, or methods that work for you. I’m not sure if this is the one, but it works for me. Only you can decide if it also works for you. Fingers crossed that it does!
*** Warning – Please do not purchase without reading a sample. (This is solid advice for any book, fiction or non. If you are not intrigued in the sample, you will likely not enjoy the book)
Amazon: Click Here