Friday, September 18, 2020

Most novels have an easily understood point to make to the reader, do your stories ever have more subtle or intuitive themes?

I do not have a clue as to ow ths unannounced new bloggin software (formerly Blogger) now POS is going to look after I try to create this post.You cannot find out where to enlarge the font. POst will be, perfoce, short. Back to the main theme. I think most good novels have enough complexity to contain subtle or intuitive themes. My current WIP, tentatively titled, "Lizzie, Bender Ledoux" is set in a small Mennonite community in South Central Kansas. Lizzie tries to be a good citizen and a good Mennonite, but she has a yen for movies and everything French: novels, songs, language, everything. She learned French in school to prepare for becoming a missionary for the Mennonites and she was sent to the Belgian Congo in 1936. When war broke out, the missionaries had to leave due to the danger of being torpedoed at sea. Lizzie reluctantly returned to Kansas, married a wonderful man, not a Mennonite, left the church and came back five years later in 1948 after being widowed. She was not able to have children and this has been her great burden. At heart, she is a rebel and trying hard to walk the straight and narrow path, but her new obsession is the current movie "Moulin Rouge," set in the dance halls of Paris. It's never stated, but rebellion is another theme. Family is still another. Lizzie watches out for her brother with epilepsy. She is close to her sister and the rest of the family and helps with the harvest and the canning. Lizzie refuses to marry anyone who is not as cultured and educated (college degree) as she is. Currently no one meets this qualification, and in her small community, it's unlikely she'll ever find anyone. In the opening scene, Lizzie doesn’t realizing that a brutal murder is taking place in the parking lot while she is dancing to the jukebox. Lizzie meets the cop on the case and offers her theories and suggestions. He seems amenable to them. She gets involved in finding the murderer, and is also taken with the cop, but he is married. Her longing for a mate (and as a Mennonite, this must be a husband) is unspoken throughout most of the novel. Lizzie stays busy in the community, but busy is not the same thing as fulfilled. She has always wanted to go to Paris and that is another wish unfulfilled. Because it is Kansas, food and feeding one’s loved ones well is important. Feeding people demonstrates love. I don’t want to give the whole story away, but you may have an idea where things are headed. Apologies for just one photo. The new software is awful and the print is so tiny I can’t see the typos. Forgive?
The bloggers below are hopefully not fighting to use the “new and improved” Blogger software. ROTFL Take a look at their thoughts on this subject. And thanks to Rhobin for managing this group blog. Skye Taylor Vines Judith Copek Diane Bator Fiona McGier Dr. Bob Rich Anne Stenhouse Victoria Chatham Helena Fairfax Rhobin L Courtright<

Friday, August 21, 2020

Details of the FIVE Senses Bring the Reader into the Story

 What pulls you into a story?  The plot, or story line, of course, but what do you know when you first open a book?  If you've read reviews and the jacket copy, you will know something.  The cover should provide a sense of the book, but it's the opening pages that will pull you in. Using the five senses in your writing (touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste) will ground the reader in the setting. 


In my novelette, The Meth House, the main character,  Hattie, a middle-aged woman with her dog, is searching for an old off-the-grid cabin  in the Rockies.

I found a rough path that the vehicle had plowed through, probably following an animal trail. I lost it couple times. Barton scampered hither and yon, wanting off the leash, but I was having none of that. I trudged along for about twenty minutes, enjoying the perfume of the pines, so fragrant in the afternoon sunshine.

Up ahead I spotted an ancient log cabin. The woods were trying to take over, but they hadn’t yet. The cabin’s logs had bleached gray. Closer, I noticed a door, and a little window with no glass, and a big stone slab for a front step. I saw how the utility vehicle, known here in the hills as a UTV had crushed the growth by the front door. Once upon a time, this had been a cozy little dwelling. Now, it stood in near ruins: hole in the roof, deserted and creepy. Vegetation crowding in. No signs of life. Barton got excited and strained at his leash. The dog kept whining. Now I had the wind up.

“What is it, Barton? I asked. Why did I whisper? “Shush!” I said. “Sit!” That’s when I heard a child’s voice calling. The hair on my arms stood straight up, and from my heartbeat, you’d a thought I’d bicycled up Pike’s Peak. I edged closer to the cabin. Barton and I stood on the stone slab. The door was closed, but the voice carried through the gaping window.

“Help! Help me! Help!” Scared, not angry. Sounded like a little girl. 

Can we see the path, and the rambunctious dog?  Smell the pines? Do we see the cabin? Hear the whining dog?   Feel him straining at the leash?  Our senses are on alert.   Then we hear the child's voice calling. Sound. The reader is in a specific setting described in a few short paragraphs.  





In Chased By Death, the reader is meeting Maxine, the main character for the first time.  Note the senses again:  sight, smell, hearing, taste. 

 Maxine pushed the door open to endure an awkward hug. Larry insisted on a table where he could see who walked in.  The squint lines around his eyes were deeper and his face had new hollows. He had lost weight, but instead of looking fit, he seemed gaunt. Even his tan looked sallow, and his bloodshot eyes cried for Visine. Being bronzed was part of the Summer Larry with his sports shirts, neat khakis, and Topsiders without socks. Despite the preppy clothes, Larry looked like hell.

Maxine ordered iced coffee. Larry asked for Jack Daniels. His red-streaked eyes darted around the restaurant, studying the other diners.

Turning to her, he said, “Lookin’ good.”

         He always wanted an elegant wife on his arm, charming and all smiles. She was no longer that woman.

She had expected him to say, ditch those clunky shoes, babe. Now Maxine dressed to please herself. On this steamy late May evening, she wore linen shorts and a silk camp shirt. And Teva sandals.         

Larry didn’t comment on her practical footwear. She didn’t remark on his dyed hair.

“I’m taking off after dinner,” she said, hinting this wouldn’t be a leisurely meal.

 The harsh briny aroma of lobster drifted across their table. Lobster always tasted better than it smelled.

 Touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste. Use the five senses will and your reader will relate to all of them.  She'll feel right there with the characters.


Here are some other authors who will surely have interesting takes on our most interesting topics: