I wrote a story a while back about a couple going through the break-up of their marriage. I wanted dialogue to tell most of the tale rather than narrative.
As I write the characters into existence I felt as though I knew them and could almost feel what they were going through. It gave me the confidence to write strong dialogue because I just knew what they would be saying to each other.
I could feel what they were feeling; the hesitation in parting, the longing for each other and what they once had, the distance that had grown around them. This gave me the confidence to describe their internal world in ways that showed you, through their actions and body language, what was going on rather than telling you. It makes it more interesting to the reader to get to know your characters themselves. This is how we do it in real life; we all make judgements about people without being told about them by someone else.
There is a book entitled, ‘The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’, which teaches you to see in a different way.
Where drawing is concerned we often draw what we think we see (left brain) rather than what we can actually see (right brain).
For example, one of the exercises asks you to draw the spaces around and between the object you want to draw (negative space) rather than trying to draw the thing itself.
How observant are you?
Do you register faint changes in facial expressions? Do you notice the body language as one person passes something to another? Do you recognise the real meaning in people’s tone of voice?
These are all elements you can write into your story to make the characters, and what they do, more believable.
People watching is a great way to build up a resource to draw on.
I wanted to follow up from my post about a website called: Dear Photograph.
The photographs on the website conjure up some brilliant imagery of layering story.
The concept behind it is simple: take an old photograph of people you know and hold it up against the original backdrop where it was taken and photograph it so that past and present blend into one photograph.
The results are very poignant. Continue reading
Some time ago I stumbled across the website, Dear Photograph. It works on the simple idea of taking an old photograph of people you know and holding it up against the original backdrop where it was taken and photographing it so that past and present blend into one photograph.
Along with the images, the photographers write a very short piece about the picture they have uploaded. In a combination of words and image, a vivid story emerges that is often far more than the sum of its parts.
You can see where this is going, can’t you?
Two elderly men in a nursing home exchange life stories during their time there.
They gradually come to realise they are not strangers to each other as they have previously thought.
Their paths have crossed before.
Imagine you are standing among the trees. What does the air around you feel like? Is there a breeze? What can you smell? What can you hear?
How would you describe the beams of light and the shadows without using the words light or sun?
Stretch your imagination and try to find unusual, highly descriptive words.
You are standing at the bottom of these stairs looking up.
Why have you come down them and what is waiting for you at the top?
Alternatively, what is behind you at the bottom?
Write about your situation without telling the reader exactly where you are or what is at the top of the stairs – or behind you. Use descriptive language to convey a picture that the reader can build up in their own mind. Make them use their imagination.
Use sparing language and make your reader feel the chill in their bones – whether it is the chill of air temperature or fear.
Remember; it is often what you cannot see that is the most vivid. Hitchcock used this to great effect. He rarely showed violence, he left you to imagine it. Think Psycho and the shower curtain scene.