Think back to a place that was or is your favorite place in the world. Jot down three or four things that make you think of that place.
My favorite place is in Plaster Rock, New Brunswick for simple reasons. As a child it was the only place on earth I ever felt safe and really loved. So I used this setting in my book. I didn’t just describe how it looked, I described how it made me feel.
I visualized with words the falling of a tree, its death in the woods, how the dirt mushroomed up around it when it hit the ground, lifted then settled into the smell of sweet pine. I gave a picture of a Belgium horse tethered to the felled log, its nostrils flaring, the bit clanging in his mouth as he anxiously awaited the command to run. Back then, I felt the power of the hard work that went into foresting the logs from the woods. Now I hope to make you feel it as well. That’s part of the craft of writing. Taking ordinary parts of life and making the reader “feel” like they are part of it.
So how do we do that? We use the senses. We look for words that evoke feeling. Instead of….”It smelled outside,” we’d say “the air smelled like licorice, dark and sweet.” Or with taste, instead of saying “it was sour,” we’d say “he closed his eyes as the liquid hit his tongue, his face puckering”. You get it!
We “show” not “tell”. Wow was that an eye opener! I think every writer still fights to make their work more “showing” than “telling”, but before this MFA (Masters of Fine Art) program, I didn’t realize it was part of the many “secrets” to writing! Do you have a secret you’d share with us?
This week’s must read is "Crackpots" by Sarah Pritchard. This book is such a favorite of mine. Sarah, is my mentor whom I'll speak a lot about as I blog. She is a one-of-a-kind woman with a uniqueness about her that draws the reader in. Anyone who has ever heard Sarah read can tesitfy to the wonderful sense of humor she exhibits. A great read!