Monday, October 31, 2011

Using Your Words

A couple of books back, my editor was just thrilled with a proposal I'd turned in. Being a curious person, I went over that proposal with a fine-tooth comb, trying to figure out what had set it apart from other things I'd done.

In the final analysis, I decided it was words.

Don't laugh. I know I've been using words all along to write my books, but the word choices in those first three chapters for that book were ... well, magnificent. Not because I'd reached beyond myself and used a fantastic vocabulary. But because my word choices painted real pictures. Spontaneous, subtle pictures of my hero and heroine's worlds.

My heroine's dad eased back on a sofa that sighed under his weight. There was a gentle splash when the tires of a passing taxi ran through a shiny puddle on a dark street. The air was crisp and carried the scent of fall, as the hero lit a cigar that sort of ruined it. LOL!

We work to get the exact snapshot or sound or scent that represents each of our scenes. There's nothing like a sighing sofa under a fat lawyer to remind you that he's affluent. So affluent he eats well and his sofa is forced to hold his weight. :)

Match crisp air with the scent of fall and we're all right with your characters on that page.

And what about the tire running through the glistening puddle on the city street? It's a sound of a city that instantly leads most of us where the writer wants us to be.

When I realized how well I'd eased setting into my scenes, and a little bit of character, I knew why my editor had been so in love with that proposal. I'd put her there, with those characters, feeling the cold, sniffing the air, hearing the light splash, watching fat daddy move. (Sorry. Couldn't resist.)

I know those examples are simplistic and I know a lot of you are saying, I do that! I do that!

Because that's who we are. As writers we are in love with words. We're in love with images. The trick is blending them in and getting them to oh, so subtly do the job of putting our readers smack dab into that scene with our characters.

I'm not a fan of over-reaching with vocabulary. (I can tell when someone's used a word she doesn't really know the meaning of!) I also not a fan of long, laborious settings or analogies. But, oh, man, I'm a fan of subtle...of being drawn in. Not brow beat in. Lured. Tempted.

So tempt somebody today. Remember you are in the entertainment industry and lure somebody into your special world for a great story. Not just a story that works. Not just something you know is good enough...lure them to something great.

Use your words.

Happy Monday!


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