Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Perfect Environment

I’m a scatterbrain. I have piles of books all over my house. Empty mugs in the weirdest places. Mounds of ironing. Pens. Notebooks. Highlighters.  Random items in randomer places. But my desk is immaculate. To me, anyway.

For the last few weeks I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus. Returning to work after three years has thrown me for an emotional loop and I’m trying once again to find the balance. Today I tried to get back into the swing of things, write a few blog posts and open up my WIP. But first my desk needed a serious sorting out.

In my writing absence, my desk became a dumping ground for ‘I’ll sort out later’ stuff. Correspondence, books, receipts, Lush wrappers…it was a mess. When I’m writing, I need everything just so. No more than one mug at a time, scribble notebook and pen handy, official WIP notebook to the side and a lip balm. Don’t ask, the lip balm helps me focus between writing stints. Plus it’s a chocolate one. Yum.

To anyone apart from me, the before and after shots of my desk don’t look all that different. It is still cluttered, still a few notebooks lying around and open books at points of reference I need to remember. But it’s organised clutter. It’s my clutter.

So I want to know what your writing environment is like. Can you do it anywhere or do you need complete and utter isolation – no music, no people, no nothing? Or does everything have to be absolutely perfect? Whatever it is, I want to know about it. Writers are an incredible species. We all have the same drive but completely different habits.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Show Don't Tell

As writers, we’ve undoubtedly heard “show don’t tell” countless times. Right? So, just how do we show? By describing the scene to the reader, rather than informing them what is there.

Involve the reader’s senses. Informing readers ‘the food is tasty’ or ‘the young rabbit was scared’ is flat writing. Describing the tasty food or the scared rabbit is showing:

1. The ripe, sun-warmed cherry tomatoes exploded in my mouth making my jaws pucker.
2. I found a trembling, injured bunny beneath the dewy morning glories.

This involves the reader and they become part of the scene.

Show things in the scene that aren’t written in the words. I didn’t have to tell you the rabbit was young and scared. I showed you the rabbit was young [bunny] and scared [trembling].

As another example (and for fun creativity) I asked my fellow wenches to join me in re-creating the following flat scene by showing. Please join us in the comments section by putting your own spin on the facts—without changing them.

I climbed the tree and looked over the fence into Neal’s back yard. My suspicions were correct. Molly was there. She was in the pool, swimming naked. Neal was smiling. As my heart broke, they laughed. It was cold outside, but neither seemed affected by the mountain air. Actually, things were getting downright steamy. Just when I thought my night couldn’t get any worse, my spying antics were exposed when my cell phone rang loudly. I was mortified.

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