Those Ah-ha moments when the light bulb in your head flashes?
Me too! I love it when I figure out something.
After reading a post Do You Write Like a Reader by Glenn Mori over at Flash Fiction Chronicles, I had just such an epiphany.
- Ah-ha #1: Too many times I fail to remain in the skin of my characters. To look around and describe what is happening through their eyes. I often worry about overwriting. About my story looking as though a kid marked the paragraphs with a purple magic marker. One excellent writer who gets into the skin of her characters, without flowering it with purple prose, is Sheila Good over at Cow Pasture Chronicles. And I’m not biased just because she’s my sister.
- Ah-ha #2: Like Mr. Mori, I read between the lines when I proof my document. Instead of seeing what’s written, I re-experience what I was thinking when I wrote it. We all must remember, we want our readers to get into the head of our characters. The readers can’t reside in ours.
- Ah-ha #3: I write like I read. While that is not always a bad thing, for me it can be when I’m squeamish. For instance, if a scene in a book is uncomfortable or too stressful, I’ll skim read to get through the tough parts. But it’s not good to skim write. Our readers need to experience the high tension or drama of our characters. They need to feel the character’s pain and fear. Not assume.
- Ah-ha #4: I need to make sure I’m communicating what I’m thinking. Sometimes the meaning of the words written are misconstrued. After all, the reader can’t read my mind. So it’s important to write what you mean.
Writing Exercise: One paragraph, any subject or WIP (50 – 150 words)
Remain in the skin of a character. Use their senses. Look around and describe where the character is or what is happening through their eyes. Is he/she bored, afraid, cold, hot, happy, or sad? Are they with someone or alone? Sitting still or moving about? Well, you get the idea.
Share your paragraph in the comments section.
My hands shook like someone with palsy. I grasp the key and twisted. The grinding set my teeth on edge. Throw in the smell of burning oil and I was ready for full-on hair-pulling panic attack. Damn it to hell this wasn’t the place nor the time for a breakdown. Tears spilled down my cheek and I cussed the useless cell phone lying on the passenger seat. So much for the “the most reliable network plan.” A monster truck whizzed past, and I shrieked like an eight-year-old little girl when my knee slammed against the steering wheel. Things were going from bad to worse. In search of an umbrella, I dug under the seats, throwing empty wrappers and lost shoes to the back. Walk or wait, either way I was road kill.