Please join us to discuss everything literary (especially kid literary): good books, the writing life, the people and businesses who create books, controversies in book world, what's good to snack on while reading and writing, and anything else bookish. We welcome your thoughts.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Spicing up the Scenery

by Marcy Collier

Today is the first day of school. What's with the beach picture, you ask? Wait, I'll get to that part. School in my community starts on September 12th  because of construction on our high school.

Last Thursday it hit me that school would start in exactly four days and summer would officially end. I had been talking about a mini vacation to the beach in September but never planned it. A few weeks ago, hurricanes ripped through the east coast and another one hit last week. Not a great time to plan a trip. I checked all of the beaches. Rain everywhere this past weekend, but only a 30 percent chance in Ocean City, Maryland. Our family took our chances and left for the beach at 6:00 a.m. Friday morning. It poured the entire trip down to Maryland. I received the call from my dad six hours into the drive that he couldn’t get in to my house to retrieve my dog. I changed the garage door transmitter and never reset the garage door code. I had used the “hidden” key and forgot to put it back in place. I wasn’t turning around. I told him to break the glass on the door to get in.

This last minute trip and tribulations reminded me of all the twists and turns stories can take on in both real life and in your made up worlds. Many authors (myself included) complain about the sagging middle. Long, drawn out portions of the manuscript that seem boring to both the author and the reader. Spice up your story. Make bad events worse and throw your protagonist into unexpected situations just like real life.

As writers, we need to experience life as we work on our craft. There’s a water sliding scene in my novel. It just so happened that there was also a water slide at our hotel's kiddie pool. I watched as both the adults and kids got stuck going down the slide and had to scoot their way to the bottom. I told my kids to watch and learn. I flew down so fast, patrons actually stopped to watch. A stranger asked how in the world I picked up such speed. It didn’t hit me that from working at a water park as a teen, I automatically arched the small of my back and crossed my legs and arms tightly to gain a huge momentum. I forgot the feeling of sliding because I hadn’t done it in a while. These are useful details to add to my manuscript.

I people-watched strangers on the boardwalk - woman in stilletos getting her heels stuck in the slats, surfer guy strutting in his wetsuit and the old folks rocking in chairs on a motel porch. All of them painted a vivid scene made up of interesting characters where stories could emerge.    

When you need to spice up your own story or make a boring scene exciting, try getting out of your house, your community and out of your regular writing routine. If you’re writing about wild animals, visit the zoo. If you need to play out a scene in the woods, hike through the woods with your notebook to jot down thoughts, sights and smells. Spice up your stories and your life. Get out there. Live. Write. Have fun.

We lucked out and didn't have any rain at the beach, hit the King of Prussia Mall on the way home for school shopping and are now back in school and the normal routine. For now. 

No comments:

Post a Comment