My greatest weakness as a writer is being able to create and describe a setting. In my prior work I would throw a few details at the reader giving them a general idea of where the characters were & then completely discard the setting to focus on what is happening. Some of my favorite authors are able to not only properly describe the setting but make it seem as if it was another character in the story. So in order to strengthen my setting weakness I began to ready Description & Setting by Ron Rozelle.
This is a part of the Write Great Fiction Series that also covers Plot Structure, Compelling Dialogue, and Revision. Now the Description & Setting book is the first I have attempted so I can’t speak about how great the series is, BUT I am enjoying this one. Part of the book includes exercises to help you improve your writing & the first one I tried was about capturing details.
The author challenges you to not only pay attention to normal sights but to look closer at the small little details. For example you notice someone eating a hotdog, normally I would notice this and then ponder upon whether I wanted a hot dog 🙂 The book encourages you to notice how the person holds the hotdog -tight in an almost death-like grip, how they consume the hotdog -In large desperate bites as if the hotdog will suddenly & inexplicably vanish from existence, and what their body language is like -Head held high to show the world he has a hotdog and is proud of his ability to eat it.
I tried this at work the other day. During a break I “noticed”, I say noticed because it sounds kind of creepy that I was watching them, one of my coworkers as they read a book. Normally that is where I would leave it but I took a second to find the details. I noticed he was situated in his chair so that he was facing away from everyone else towards a wall, just to confirm that he didn’t want to be bothered. He gently swayed back & forth in the chair, so slowly you couldn’t tell unless you were paying attention. I imagined he was reading something action packed and was involuntarily running and fighting with the main character.
I’m hoping that my new detail-capturing mind will help me discover things that will make my worlds & stories more believable. What about yourselves, how do you come up with details to fill your stories?
As my wife and I get closer to the birth of our first child I can’t shake this feeling of pure excitement & terror. We are given the ability to love people with all our heart but the more we love them the harder it is when we lose them. Those of you who have followed me for awhile know that I lost my mother and sister to an auto accident & my father recently to health problems. Due to this I will admit that for every burst of excitement that runs through my body another burst of fear shoots through my head. 🙂
I can lay next to my wife and feel my son rumbling around in her stomach and it brings a smile to my face. I know this little guy has the potential to go from a fragile little baby, into a rambunctious young boy, to a headstrong teenager, and finally into a man. I also know the harsh truth of the world, we are not promised anything. Just as quickly as he is given to me he can be taken away. I know that no matter what I do I will not be able to protect him from the world.
I know this fear is something that comes to all new parents regardless of what has happened in their past. I know this fear is just as big as the love I currently have for this little person I have only glimpsed in grainy video. I will do as all of us do, I will love and I will do everything in my power to protect my loved ones.
As I sit here typing I have a smile on my face and I’m convinced every butterfly in the world is currently contained in my stomach. For those of you who have followed me I thank you. This blog started as a way to keep my butt motivated in writing, and has evolved into also helping me fight through the issues that life has thrown my way. Reading your comments and following your own journeys has provided me with more joy then you know. Knowing that you all are going to be with me as I take the next step in my life brings me more comfort then it probably should :-p Thanks
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As someone who loves to write it could be reasonably implied that I love blank pages. They should be like a large slab of stone just waiting for me to give it shape and turn it into something greater than it currently is. Due to the way I write I only see the “Blank Page” right before I start my new story (the rest of the time there is a partial story or note on every page). So whenever I see a blank page I am on the cusp of bringing a completely new universe to life. Unfortunately this is also the reason I hate the blank page.
I’m not the type of writer that just “dives in”, I know a few of them & would be lying if I didn’t say I envied them. I’m the type of writer that will get an idea, walk around pondering the idea to see if there is an actual story contained within, then begin writing copious amounts of notes and then start crafting it into a story. So most of the time when I sit down to begin my writing I have a pretty good idea of where the story is going and a rough idea of how I plan on getting there. Then I see the blank page.
It just sits there staring back at me. Dismissing my story. Slightly raising a questioning eyebrow when I assure it that I know what I’m doing. Laughing at my futile attempts of an opening line. Shaking it’s head in utter disappointment when the opening chapter of my book, which I have been crafting in my head for at least a couple of weeks, falls flat on its face. The blank page represents the moment right before I attempt to turn this amazing story in my mind, into a flawed work-in-progress that I will nurse for several months/years until I either give up or it becomes the thing I first imagined.
The blank page comes to represent everything I love and hate about writing. The joy of creating something out of nothing. The joy of creating characters that end up taking me places and becoming people I would never have imagined when I first put pen-to-paper. It also promises hard times. It promises that at some point in time I will doubt the story, doubt the characters, and doubt my own ability. It promises that there will be times I want to give up, times when I will throw it to the side knowing & wanting to come back but not having the strength to.
The blank page contains both hope and despair. Creation and destruction. Yet I believe that great writers will stare right back at that blank page without blinking, take a deep breath, place their hands gently on the keyboard, and do the one thing all of us feels we were born to do, write.
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I had planned to write about villains today.
Instead, I found myself moved to tears by a blog post I read and the comments that followed, and I sat feeling helpless for a moment, blinking back tears, rifling through my memories and wrestling with the itch in my fingers. Because I don’t really want to write this post right now. In fact, it’s the last post I want to write. It’s the one argument I have avoided with religious zeal, trying to stay on the sidelines and keep my blinders on. Trying to keep my eyes on my goal.
Book on shelf.
That’s my goal.
If I don’t want to write this, then why on earth am I doing it? And what, pray tell, am I trying to say?
Book on shelf has been my goal for over a decade. I’d walk through Chapter One Bookstore in Hamilton, Montana and…
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The Daddy Chronicles will follow my misadventures of learning how to be a father. My wife is due on March 4th, the preparation is under way….
Something I am really looking forward to is reading to my child. I can remember having dozens upon dozens of children’s books as a kid & even before I could read I would flip through & drool on the pages as I admired the pictures. I have already begun searching for the perfect books for my future little one.
The Poky Little Puppy
How can you not like the Poky Little Puppy?!? It has everything you need drama, suspense, & a great happy ending. This is one I can remember reading as a kid & I love the old school illustrations.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See
Not only is this a beautiful book but it’s fun to read. This will probably be the first book I read to the little one. Its catchy and brings back some good memories.
The Ugly Duckling
Classic Hans Christian Anderson story. Great moral. Nuff said
The Monster At The End Of This Book
The book that obliterated the 4th wall. This blew my mind as a kid and I still have fond memories of it to this day. If this book doesn’t make a kid want to read NOTHING will.
I’m still searching & adding to my collection, any other stories you all suggest or have fond memories of?
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