Hi guys! It's an awesome day today. We've got the totally amazing Patti Larsen as a guest author. So be sure to welcome her. Two ultra cool ways to make your book better! :)
But first, we've got Lesson 3 from me.
Answer these 20 questions for EVERY crucial character in your book. You'll be grateful you did! :)
Character Development Sheet:
1. What is their full name and what does it mean?
2. What's their favorite color?
3. What's their favorite food?
4. What do they like to do?
5. Do they have a favorite TV show or author?
6. What's their favorite type of music/bands/singers?
7. Who's their role model/idol?
8. What's their family life like?
9. Do they have brothers & sisters? How many of each/names?
10. What's their favorite animal?
11. What do they wish for?
12. What do they want to be when they're older?
13. What are they afraid of?
14. What embarrasses them?
15. What makes them happiest?
16. List 5 good things about them.
17. List 5 of their worst traits.
18. Where do they live?
19. Where do they wish they could travel to?
20. If they could take back one instance in their life, what would it be? What do they regret most?
In the comments mention one new thing you learned about one of your characters. (Fill the rest of the character sheets out on your own. I promise it's really fun to do! :) ) Don't forget to see Patti's lesson too. You guys are so lucky! :)
Patti Larsen’s Guest Lesson: Sensory Writing
First, let me say a MASSIVE thank you to Jenni for letting me be a part of this amazing process! I love teaching, sharing, imparting, expounding, explaining… you get the point, right? I’ll slap a bit more about me and who I am at the end of this post but for now I’m too excited and want to get going. Don’t you?
Today’s lesson is all about writing from a sensory point of view. We have five, after all and, if you believe in such things or even write about them (hello paranormal!) six.
Like Jenni, I’ve posted the majority of the lesson in the video below:
Example One—Fresco, Chapter Two
Fresco stood on the sidewalk and watched as Justin’s truck drove past into the intersection, hitting another car. The two vehicles spun toward the curb, locked together.
Fresco had a heartbeat to register he now stood on the sidewalk next to the stop sign. The sun beamed down on him, warming his face. The world was silent, a jolting change from the blaring music. Justin’s black truck roared past in the next breath, careened into the intersection, t-boned by the blue sedan. The impact rippled the air, rushing over, through and past him in a shockwave. He felt it before he heard metal shriek and clash, the deep thrum of humming tires, the sharp bellow of shattering safety glass, the thrum of releasing airbags. The two vehicles melded together with enough force to spin them 180 degrees and come to a screeching halt against the opposite curb. Smoke billowed from the front of the blue car, bits of yellow and red plastic scattered as though tossed with casual disdain. Something within the crippled four-door hissed and sputtered its way down to death, its bonnet compressed, embedded in the passenger side of Justin’s four by four. The truck bent inward where the cab met the box but appeared almost intact compared to the crumpled mess of the family midsize.
This example is obvious and out there, the descriptions fleshed out and drawing on all the senses.
Example Two—Curiosities, Inc, Chapter Four
Danny walked in the front door.
“Gram?” No answer. Relieved she wouldn’t have to make small talk, Danny headed for the kitchen.
Danny stepped into the cool, musty quiet of the front hall and closed the heavy door behind her. She kicked off her sneakers, piling them in an untidy heap on the mat by the door. She thought she heard quiet voices talking, but couldn’t tell from where.
“Gram?” She called upstairs. The voices fell silent. Come to think of it, the house felt empty, still. She was pretty sure she was alone. No answer from her grandmother, anyway. Relieved that she wouldn’t be forced to make small talk and lie about how great her day was and passing off the voices as the murmurs of the old house, she drifted through the front living room.
Here, the example is more subtle. Cool implies physical feeling of temperature. Musty speaks to scent and quiet to hearing. Three simple words tell the reader volumes without having to go to deeply into description. Can you spot the rest?
The town sign read Avlin, Texas, pop. 967. Viviana paused there for a moment before driving on.
The neglected town sign emerged from the rippling heat. Avlin, Texas, pop. 968. No, sixty-seven. The eight was crossed off.
Viviana paused there, far from the interstate, from civilization really, all tumbleweeds and cacti in the Texas sunshine. She dabbed perspiration from her upper lip with a delicate handkerchief, cursing the rental agent who swore the car had air conditioning. Such curses were not to be taken lightly. That false young man would suffer a whole year of hurt because he tried to pull one over on an old lady.
Viviana popped a freshly pickled eyeball into her mouth and hit the gas.
Is it making sense (no pun intended!) to you now?
Now that you’ve seen the examples, ask yourself: are the differences obvious? Which connects you better to the characters, the scene, the story? Is it better to use sensory writing or worse? Is there such a thing as too much sensory writing? Can you go overboard?
Of course! There’s no need to use this type of writing for all five (six) senses in every scene. Choose the one (or two) that makes the most impact on the story. And play with it. Vision isn’t always the best choice, for example.
Using sensory writing will add great depth and vibrancy to your writing. And it’s fun!
Read the following sentence:
Mary sat in her chair and waited.
Plain, ordinary and boring, right? Okay, here’s your assignment! Layer on the sensory writing! What is she smelling? Tasting? What does the chair feel like? What can she hear? Is she a telepath? Go WAY over the top with this adding as much sensory writing to it as you possibly can. I want to feel like I’m right there next to her.
Now, pare it back. Which are the most important ones to her particular story? What can you cut out and still get across the tale you’re telling? Play around with adding the unusual because it can lead you places in your writing you never expected. Have fun!
Oh and I promised a little about me… I’m a mainly YA author of paranormal and dark urban fantasy, though I dabble in adult thrillers as well. I have several books coming out over the next six months, the first of which is Fresco with Etopia Press. The sequels are right on it’s heels! I also have a YA paranormal series, the Hayle Coven novels, signed with Etopia, a middle grade novel coming Spring 2012 with Acorn Press and an adult/YA crossover thriller called Best Friends Forever also with Etopia. I teach a writing structure workshop, Get Your Book Done 101 and when I’m not writing I’m thinking about it.
You can find me at http://pattilarsen.blogspot.com where I write about my favorite subject—writing. And at http://pattilarsenbooks.blogspot.com where I write about my second favorite subject—my novels.
Twitter I’m @PattiLarsen
Facebook you can find me at http://facebook.com/pattilarsenauthor
Psst... Isn't she amazing? Thank you Patti for stopping by. You so rock! :) --Jenni