Man am I glad to holidays are behind us. Not that I am Scrooge or anything, but I'm ready to get back to normal. Normal? Is there even such a thing when you really get down to it?
A writing post is coming but first a short rant. WARNING : This could turn into a very long post but the rant should be short lived.
I'm trying to buy my wife a new car. One that will be a bit more dependable as the Ford Expedition she currently drives is getting way on up there in miles. Not to mention it cost more to keep it full of gas than it does to feed a pack of fat guys at Red Lobster.
Now correct me if I'm wrong but the term salesman has the word SALE right there in it. So shouldn't that be the primary function of these peoples job, to sale? Not to act like pompous jackass's. Not to tell me what I need instead of what I want. Not to antagonize me with their smug attitudes until I'm ready to yank the camel hair coat of his back and strangle him with the sleeves.
Okay rant over. Time to segue into the writing aspect of this post.
So many of you know the novel I am writing is titled Plundered Booty. Dang near every character in the book either works at a car dealership or is married to someone that does. Until my recent car buying venture I worried that I'd make too many of the salesmen despicable. I thought maybe the whole thing was a bit too over the top of the sleaze factor of these individuals. Now I'm thinking I might have to add in more derelict behavior.
Speaking of characters. How do y'all feel about physical descriptions? For the most part, I'm not a huge believer in detailed physical descriptions. Sure if you protagonist is missing an ear or has one leg cut off at the knee you might wanna mention it, but a reader is going to form their own mental image fairly quickly so unless there is a huge or highly relevant feature I say stick to the basics and then move in.
Stay with me follow the rambling. I hope to make sense in the end.
I recently finished a novel a pretty good novel in fact but ... the author waited until a hundred or so pages to tell me the female protag was blonde. By that time I already had her pictured as a brunette so when he finally got around to describing her his words clashed with my imagined image. It wasn't a huge deal but it did make me stop reading and start puzzling over why I thought she was brunette. I even went back to see if he'd screwed up and changed his description. This is just one minor example but the most recent one I can think of.
Here is my list of Do and Don'ts when it comes to describing your characters.
Do describe them as early as possible, Before your reader has formulated a bunch of notions on their own.
Don't have them look at themselves in the mirror and then describe themselves. That my friends screams LAZY writer.
Do give your reader enough to form a mental image. It is hard to relate to anything you've never seen or heard so give the reader enough to build that image.
Don't mention every last detail. Yes, detail adds character but hearing about the mole on their neck, the scar on their chin that they got when they were six by tripping over the pot full of geraniums on their granny's front porch,and the ringsize of their big toe is jsut a bit much. It's all in the dosage and relevancy.
Don't fall back into telling while giving description. Frank is fat.
Do show. The plaid fabric stretched tight across Frank's beer gut had me longing for a pair of safety glasses. At any moment those buttons were liable to go, and the with the force of his lard behind them those suckers could put out an eye.
Do use words that fit your tone and scene, just like you would any other time. Writing a contemporary romance? You don't want to say ... Her lips were as red as the skin beneath a freshly peeled scab. That doesn't conjure romantic thoughts. Her painted red lips parted just enough for me to feel her warm breath on my neck. At least that has a bit of action to it and it adds to the mood.
Don't jar the reader out of your scene. Slapping the dust from his jeans he stepped down out of the stage coach and smiled. His teeth gleamed like a chrome bumper. That's bad for several reasons but chances are if you're writing a scene that has a stage coach in it mention car parts is a very bad idea.
I think I'm rambling so I'm gonna stop now but since many of you are much more accomplished writers than me how about adding a few dos and don'ts in the comments.
And being writers some of you might be interested in this contest. It is affiliated with the conference of my local writers group. It is a good chance to get some feedback. the first round is judged by published authors and the finals are judged by either a literary agent or an acquiring editor. I know of several projects that have sold via this contest and I have had an agent read a full as a result. The entry fee ($20) goes towards acquiring speakers and funding the conference.
I'd love seeing some of you at the conference this coming June but at the very least I expect to hear some of y'alls names announced at the awards ceremony.
This is why I don't really like to do these writing craft p[sots anymore. I have a head full of things I want to get down but when I'm done and read back through what I said it seems like asinine, sophomoric gibberish. Maybe that says more about me than I'm willing to admit.