This week: How to make scenes real
Writing fiction, ironically, is all about keeping it real. And by this, I mean making stuff up. Confused? Let me explain. When we think of a room, we don’t recall it as a building or a space or a room. Nope. We remember the room as warm or with white walls, with leather seats or flowery curtains. If we reflect on past events in our lives and look closer, we come to understand that what makes them real in our mind are the sounds, sights and feel of things. So to make your scenes real in your book, this is what you have to do. You have to paint the real picture.
And so to the top 5 of keeping it real…
1. Show don’t tell. You want to recreate a scene, not describe it. Show us what the character can see in that room or countryside or beach setting. So, instead of “I arrived nervously at the old house near the sea” (telling), say “I arrived at the cottage, white washed walls, flowers in broken pots by the door. I stood at the end of the path, hand on the peeling gate, waiting, shaking. I inhaled, tried to steady myself, the faint lap of the waves, the squall of the seagulls all singing like a lullaby in my ears.” (showing).
2. Practice describing colours. Sounds nuts, but it works. Imagine you are describing the colour red, for example, to a blind person. How would you do that? Hot, scorching etc.
3. Give details not judgements. An author’s job is to give the facts then know when to step back so the readers can reach their own conclusions.
4. Names are everything. Its sounds minor, a name, but it means a heck of a lot. In real life, so much is attached to our names. On the page, a name connected to a character, a well thought through name, anchors the writer to the page. If the name is not well considered, the reader can sense that because the character does not, ultimately, feel real.
5. Visualise. Try to imagine what is in a scene. Close you eyes, picture the scene you are trying to write about. Now open your eyes. What details did you pick up on? What was the weather? The temperature? etc. Write it down as accurately as you can. I use this technique a lot when I feel a scene slipping away from me.
Any top tips on keeping your writing real? Great. Share them with the group.
**Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog…**