Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Painting a Picture with Words

I've begun the arduous job of editing what I've already written.  The plus side is that it's all down on paper.  The down side is that it's flat in places and needs to be jazzed up.

I've gone through the first three chapters - generally what you need for a proposal - and I'm pretty satisfied with the start.  I found a crutch word that I didn't realize I'd used so frequently, and deleted a whole bunch of the word "still."  This is where the editing really starts, though, moving forward into chapter 4.

Often, in the rush to get the story down, critical details are left out - sensory images.  This is what I'm paying attention to now.  Can you still see the sand in the desert wind?  Feel the heat rising from the ground in waves?  Hear a bird in the sky or the howl of a coyote?  Is the climate so dry you can taste it?  On the first draft, you tend to believe your readers have ESP and can see everything that's going on inside your head.  BIG MISTAKE!  Everything you see, hear, feel, taste, touch - these have to find their way to the page.  When I started this story, these images were all fresh in my mind and the ones that fascinated me the most I tried to put down in great detail.  As I moved forward, I took for granted that everyone else could also see what I saw, and with time and distance between my visit to the location, some of the details faded - they were less in the forefront of my mind.  Readers need to be reminded of the landscape through which your characters walk.  As they move from page to page, the story has to follow them as if you are painting a picture with words.

Today is "painting" day.  Tomorrow I'm going to update my spreadsheet for who I want to send proposals to (and likely do more "painting").  I want to make sure I take my time with the painting part, and there are details I know I missed on the first go 'round that I have to incorporate this time through (found such a detail in my third chapter).  Now that I know what the finished picture looks like, it's all about the shadowing and light that will make it "pop."
Back to it - before the colors dry up!


  1. I've been practicing writing all the senses on my writing blog. Hoping it might find its way into my real writing too. Lovely post.

  2. Thanks Sheila. And good idea to practice writing senses into your blog - sounds like a good goal for my next post