So, not only does my memory seem more faulty these days, I find myself completely pre-occupied by my writing projects. I’m working through the “before the overhaul” and the “after the overhaul” plots for my police procedural, and I just heard from my agent that there’s still a pacing problem with Book 2.
Guess what else is taking up precious brain bandwidth?
Not to mention all that routine stuff, like “I really need to clean this weekend” and “I really need to reorganize my working area” and “I wonder if the professor will accept my submissions for my exam for credit because I really don’t want to pay $1400 for the class.”
Needless to say, the realization that yes, it IS Saturday, and I’m supposed to post on my blog this morning, just hit me.
And my Muse is Down Under enjoying sun and surf and Summer, so I can’t rope him into writing a post.
So, here’s my “I forgot I had to post” post. Words of wisdom from my writing teacher, Christine DeSmet, one of the Blackbird Writers (you can find them on FB):
Post #4 of 5, techniques for novelists
Two examples of how color lifts a manuscript
…Using color consciously can help a manuscript become a standout for agents, editors, readers.
…Color—used as a device—creates emotional reactions in readers and characters. Color’s symbolism helps with plotting.
…Example 1: Author Kent Haruf
…In an online course I taught, I asked about color in one exercise. Kent Haruf’s great novel, PLAINSONG, begins with a teenage girl in a rough situation. She and her mother are alone, poor, the abusive mother shows disdain for her pregnant teenage daughter retching over the toilet bowl before going to school. The scene is sad, dark (and short). It’s mostly dialogue (with several dialogue techniques illustrated, by the way). When we go to the next scene, the girl dresses for school in nothing special, but she has a shiny red purse. When I asked adult writers what the red purse signified, the answers split evenly between women and men. Women felt the red purse meant the girl was grabbing for a degree of confidence and hope. The men felt the red purse signified a tart, a loose woman.
…No matter the interpretation, readers noticed the red purse. The novel, by the way, turns into a lovely story about community and “unlikely family” with humor. (If you liked A MAN CALLED OVE, you may enjoy PLAINSONG.)
…Haruf used the “red purse” as a signal in his plot. This story is set in a plain, small town—imagine gray and brown tones. The red purse has its own plot: it appears three significant times in the story. This helps the author signal the story’s three acts and character’s changes or growth. Readers may also care about the red purse, too, because the girl loves it. If something happens to the red purse, our emotions may be tugged.
…The red purse is like a red cardinal appearing amid a snowy white landscape, flagging our attention.
…Example 2: Author Jo Nesbo
…Author Jo Nesbo used white snow and contrasting color to great advantage in his chilling murder suspense, THE SNOWMAN, set in Norway. Amid the bleak, black winter shadows the killer always leaves behind a white snowman at the murder location. Each snowman wears a brightly colored scarf. The purpose? The sleuth (and agent/editor/reader) has to read to find out. The color amid chilly white is a plot tool and makes this a memorable novel.
…What color enhances (or could enhance) your manuscript’s characterization and plot?
Anyway, now that the Vikings are out of the running for the rest of the playoffs (raise your hand if you’re surprised. What? Anyone? Yeah, me neither. There’s always next year), I can use that time to catch up on those annoying chores, like cleaning. Ugh.
Maybe when my Muse gets back, he’ll have some deep insight to share with me ….
January 21, 2023 at 7:15 am
There’s no such thing as ‘have to post,’ Julie. I love reading your blog, but there’s no law about it if you’ve got other things going on in your life at the moment. Like writing and revising. I’m glad your projects are moving along!
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January 21, 2023 at 8:35 pm
Thanks, Margot! Thing is, if I let it slide one week, that means I’m okay with letting it slide the next week, etc. It’s more for me to stick to a routine 🙂 I’m stumbling through, still crossing my fingers I can make this project sound like I know what I’m doing 😀 😀
Have a wonderful weekend!
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January 21, 2023 at 7:52 am
I’m honored to have been able to share your spot in the universe! What a fun surprise for me! Thank you, and good luck with your revisions. I’m working on my own, too. Onward we go with wordsmithing!
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January 21, 2023 at 8:37 pm
I figure I’ll share the awesome advice you give! (and it’s an easy yet craft-worthy post 🙂 ).
Have a wonderful weekend of wordsmithing, Chris!
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January 28, 2023 at 9:03 pm
Ugh, cleaning. And the Vikes are out?? I suppose Paul may have mentioned that at some point. Hello there, Muse, wink wink. Meow meow kitty kitty! ❤