Thursday, September 08, 2011

Writing Advice from a Pro

I’m a real sap for a good description. I’ve even been known to save a marketing brochure if the words tickle my fancy.

In fiction beautiful words strung together with care paint vivid scenes that the reader can use to anchor the action in the book. Today's insight from a pro is taken from A Novel Idea, a compilation book with advice from several best-selling authors.

In chapter seven Deborah Raney discusses the power of the right word. "Words are amazing things. With a unique combination of a hundred or so characters arranged into words, I can build a captivating set as surely as a Broadway stage crew." She illustrates her point with some lovely, evocative words to set the scene.

Deb advises, "You can improve your manuscript exponentially by simply reworking the first paragraph or two of each chapter to set the stage as vividly in the reader's mind as if he were watching a scene from a smash hit on Broadway."

I hope I'll be a learner as long as I'm a writers. Here's the beginning of a scene from my wip (work in progress), can you *see* it?

The storm had continued throughout the afternoon. A thick layer of white frosted the Victorian city. Snow piled up on ornate iron railings leading to solid front doors and pristine powder nestled on the windowsills. The city sounds muffled, and Margaret felt peaceful. The sidewalk stretched before her, a patchwork of lumpy piles of slippery snow and portions that had been safely scraped off. She picked her way south, careful to keep her balance.

After walking a few blocks, she came upon an empty lot where children played. Their shrieks and laughter made her homesick. Janice and Jeffry would have loved to join in the fun. She stopped and watched the kids rolling large snowballs around in circles, and then they worked together to stack them up, creating knobby-looking characters with coal eyes and crooked coal grins.

Photo credit: imagefactory from

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