I'm dying to write a post about my 2nd novel that I just published, ROSEHEAD, but it's not available everywhere yet, and I have yet to post the free ebook files of it on my site, so I have to wait! Grr!!! Soon, soon! Meanwhile, I had this revelation while reading (of course, always). A tiny little thing, really, that adds to the post I wrote about how to write the perfect description. And how it didn't occur to me before, I don't know. I guess there is truth to the whole credo of write a lot, read a lot, and you will get better. The idea is simple. It's so simple, that I want someone slap me silly with a blimp full of pillows, or make me eat begonias, or, I don't know, paint all my socks green so I would remember this for the rest of my life, however long it is I have left to live. Are you ready? Here we go. (And if you've known this before, go ahead, split your midriff from laughing.)
TURN EVERY FUCKING THING INTO A NOUN.
Ta-da! Ha, easy, right? You always read those books or articles or whatever on how to write, and they all tell you, use nouns and active verbs, avoid adjectives, and, OMG, avoid adverbs, and, OMG, avoid the -ings and the rest of them sorry things that go against the simple beautiful noun+verb combo! Great! But how do you do it? I always broke my head over it, because, man, how do you describe something without boring your reader with she did that, she did this, then she did that, then she did this again, then... oh, it gets tired very quickly. So, let's try a little exercise here, and you will see what I mean. (Hopefully. I'm speed-writing this out of sleep-deprived brain so I can dive into writing IRKADURA, so please forgive the excessive amount of somnolent silliness).
"She came across an orange poppy field. She felt warm wind on her face. She sniffed the air, it smelled like baby dreams. She looked closer and saw a herd of pink ponies grazing in the field. She admired their purple manes. She wanted to jump astride one, the fattest one, the one that looked like it could benefit from wearing a tutu. She felt excitement bubble inside her tummy. She parted poppy stems, stepped it, and promptly woke up."
Okay, if you're not nauseated yet by this repetition of she did this, she did that, I am. So, let me try doing something with this, by instead of focusing on the girl character, focusing on the sum of the things in the scene and making them active participants. Moreover, on making intangible things into nouns, so that when there is nothing that could be active, you can still make it happen. So, here we go.
"She came across an orange poppy field. Warm wind washed over her face. Its smell made her think of baby dreams. An impatient neigh made her look closer. A herd of pink ponies grazed in the field. The purple of their manes blasted her with its intensity. A sharp desire to mount one rose somewhere deep in her belly. That one, the fattest one, the one that looked like it could benefit from wearing a tutu. She'd ride it. The desire grew into an excitement bubble. It wanted out. She had to do it. Poppy stems parted at her hands, dirt crunched under her foot, and she promptly woke up."
All right, this is a little better. Not very super good yet, because it's still too wordy and can be shrunk, but still. Suddenly we have wind doing stuff, and smell doing stuff, even a neigh and the color purple! And the desire, and stuff. See how easily this reads better? It has variety. Now it's not just this girl doing these things, it's all the things around her and inside her. The fun part here is, when there are no things to do things, you invent things. YOU MAKE NOUNS OUT OF THINGS. Like, instead of saying, she wanted to, you can say, the desire ate her. Bam! Much more interesting, right? And we can relate to it better, right? Totally. Lets do another pass and invent more nouns.
"A poppy field crested the hill with an orange line. She stopped. Wind warmed her face with rivulets of baby dreams. A neigh reached her ears. She squinted. A herd of pink ponies grazed in the field, their purple manes too bright to look at. A sharp desire to mount one rose in her belly. The fat one that'd look good in a tutu. Yes, she'd ride it. Poppy stems parted at her hands, she stepped in and promptly woke up."
Okay, even better! The problem here is, I'm getting enamored by pink ponies when what I need to do is finish writing this blog and start writing my book. Ah! Maybe I need to write a book about a girl who found a poppy field of pink ponies! Anyway. You see how you can keep perfecting it until it turns into liquid prose, into a painting, into a piece of art that can paint a picture in your reader's mind and they wouldn't know what hit them? Yeah, that's the writer's job, and I have just recently discovered it. All from... *drumroll* ...reading a lot of book, folks. A LOT. I started seeing this patterns, and it helped me with my frustration, because often I felt handicapped, not being able to describe what I saw in my head. But now I found this little trick, and, hey, hopefully this will help you too!
YES! WE ALL DESERVE COOKIES NOW!!!
Let me try one more polish here, okay?
"An orange line of poppies lined the hill. A field of them. She stopped, warm wind on her face, warm like in baby dreams. A neigh broke the stillness. She squinted. A dozen ponies, pink, manes bright purple, grazed in the field. One stood to the side, fat, begging to wear a tutu. A sharp desire to mount it rose in her belly. Poppy stems parted, she stepped in and promptly woke up."
Okay, I'm still not fully happy with this, but still. See how many nouns are here now??? YES! That's what it's about, writing a ton of sentences about shit that happens. Noun, verb. Noun, verb. Noun, verb. And that is it, darlings. Now off into more writing I go. Riding a pink pony, of course. XOXO