I'm not sure what time you're reading this but if it's morning for you there's a good chance I'm on a plane...Going to Aspen, Colorado to see my youngest get married. Not only is this a bittersweet time for me, but also ... it made me think about writing.
Allen getting married is bittersweet because it reminds me that he's growing up. Well, grown up, technically, since he's thirty. And I missed a lot of his childhood because in the 80's when women first came into their own in the workplace, overtime, sixty-hour weeks, community service for your corporation were all the norm. We were thrilled for the opportunity.
Fast forward a few decades and now we're seeing that we missed a lot of important things in our children's lives. If I were writing a late-fifty-year-old Mom, I'd make sure she had some regrets. And that her children, potentially the hero or heroine, had missed having her around.
There was an article in today's paper about a seventy-something woman in my area who was appointed spokesperson for our symphony. When I looked at her picture, the first thing I noticed was that the pin on her suit was virtually on her shoulder. I sort of chuckled, thinking, I remember some of the ladies I worked with (around her age) doing that -- having a pin so high it was almost by their ears -- and I thought...what a great detail for a story.
Last night, at the gender reveal for my niece's new baby...the color of the icing between the two layers of the "reveal" cake tells us the baby's sex...my family will use any excuse to have cake...I saw my nieces Lainie and Maddie both using their hands to swirl their skirts...and I remembered doing that as a child. But I also thought, Hum. Good detail for the little girl in my new story.
Details are all around. Things that grab a reader and instantly provide characterization. Who doesn't know a mom from the 80's with regrets about too much work? Who doesn't know a grandma or great grandma with her pin way up on her shoulder? Who doesn't know a little girl who swirls her ruffled skirt because it's fun?
Details like that ground a reader. So look around. Pay attention. The best ways to capture readers and pluck them into your scene are all around you. They're in daily life. The best place to find the reality you need to ground your reader is ... well, in reality.