We've got the installation date for our countertops at last. And, as I feared, this was indeed the one item that fell well outside the window the company had given us when we ordered the materials. So, instead of today, it's one week from today before we have a kitchen that looks like a kitchen. It'll still be a few more days before everything else is hooked up and usable, but I'm looking forward to having a sink. And a stove. And a dishwasher that isn't in the middle of the living area.
But the place is beginning to look and feel like home, and I think it's because I finally got out the hammer, ladder and picture hangers and decked the walls with our personal (and familiar) belongings.
I think this carries over into writing. When you're busy dealing with plot, it's easy to fill in what happens, and maybe the basics of character description. I'm not talking about what pictures are hanging on your characters' walls, or even what color the bedroom walls are. But you have to include those details that make the story "home."
Now, I'm the last person to advocate stopping the story flow for paragraphs of description. But I do think you need to consider those background bits that draw the reader into the story. The trick is to make sure they serve more than one function and add something to the scene.
Do you show your character's habits? Surroundings? Friends? What does he do in those private moments, alone with his thoughts? Or does he avoid them, preferring to hit the night life?
The following is only a paragraph, but do you "see" the character of Graham Harrigan from NOWHERE TO HIDE in this excerpt?
The note on the fridge with "coffee" underlined three times in red marker didn't lighten his mood. Ever the optimist, he peeked into the canister in case the coffee fairy had replenished his supply. Not surprised to see it empty, he finished dressing and headed for Starbucks before going into the station, making a mental note to get a pound of French roast along with his espresso.
Here, we learn that Graham likes good coffee, that he brews it at home, but shopping isn't a priority. He's also got a sense of humor.
The kind of car your character drives, and what shape it's in can "deck your walls." Wardrobe choices, food choices, banter with friends.
What about this brief selection from one of Colleen's scenes:
Colleen paid more attention to the neighborhood as she retraced her route. Moms pushing strollers and people walking dogs. Stopped for a red light, she saw a YMCA to her left, its glass walls revealing people busy on treadmills and stepping machines. Might be worth checking out. No need to get soft.
We see where she lives, that's it's a residential neighborhood, but we also find out that she considers fitness a priority. If she were a foodie, I'd have shown her noticing restaurants.
Tomorrow's the last day for my Smashwords contest.
Causes Terry Odell Supports
Pro Literacy Worldwide, The Nature Conservancy, The Adult Literacy League, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society