Please note that some of the descriptive words in this table are found in more than one box. This is because they hold two different descriptive meanings.
Sometimes it’s nice to have many in one place rather than always resorting to look up single words at a time. When you are in the middle of writing a piece of fiction and you want a unique way to describe something, your mind can go blank. Here is a table to help you.
“Why does she continue to hover all the time? I mean, you’re divorced, so shouldn’t she be moving on or something?” asked Raya.
“She thinks we still have a chance.”
Bryson walked back over to his desk lost in thought without answering Raya’s question.
“Is there what?” asked Bryson confused.
“A chance you and your ex-wife could get back together?”
Bryson breathed deep and let it out. “No.”
“Not from where I’m standing.”
“What are you talking about?
“You lack of response and your body language. Your mind was miles away. You still love her.”
Instead of paying attention to what Raya was saying, Bryson swiveled his chair around to face the window. Reaching both hands behind his head, he laced his fingers and leaned into them.
Raya watched in stunned disbelief. She couldn’t believe he blew her off like this. “At least have the decency to look at me and listen to what I just said.”
“Oh, I heard you. Quite frankly it’s none of your business.”
“That does it.” Raya stormed over to his office door, unlocked it, and turned her head around, “Find another sucker. We’re through. I don’t need to be treated this way.”
She opened his office door just as Bryson’s ex-wife was exiting Jack’s office. Raya waved her over and said, “Your husband’s in his office. He was trying to avoid you.” Behind her the squeak of Bryson’s office chair filled the air and his footsteps thundered across his office floor. She strolled back to her cubicle in the secretarial pool and sat down as Bryson’s ex-wife sailed across the front of her cubicle, leaving a mountain of perfume in her wake. A couple seconds later a resounding “Whack!” stung the air.
In a previous post I talked about types of tension and where you can find it. In this post I’d like to talk more about using it in your story in order to keep your readers turning pages. I’ve read books where, once the action starts, there is no stopping until the end. I’ve watched television shows and movies where the tension was like that, too.
What also works is what I call on again off again tension. This is when the tension is rising and has the reader/viewer on the edge of their seats, then the story does an abrupt change and goes to a different scene thus breaking the tension. Those are the moments when you, the reader, might stay, “Nooo. What happens next?” You might put the book down at this point because you’re frustrated or you might continue reading. But that’s up to you. Eventually, you will pick the book up again and continue reading. Although, I don’t see you waiting very long if you are wanting to know what happens next.
Either of these two ways of creating tension is effective. It all depends on the story you are writing and how you, the author, wants to create that tension. BUT…..however you present the tension in your story, it must build as the story moves along. Continue throwing conflict at your main character(s), and continue stepping up the “gas”.
What is something you like to do that clears your mind and allows your mind to think creatively at the same time? For me it’s putting together a jigsaw puzzle. If there is something that does this for you, but you haven’t done it in a long time, do it.
I talked about emotions in previous posts in months past, but today I’m going to focus on one of them. Anger. I’ve said it before, you don’t merely want to tell the reader that your character is angry. You want the reader to FEEL the anger…right off the page.
Bad Example: Dan was angry at the sight of his girlfriend in the arms of another guy.
Good Example: Dan stopped short and did a double take, as he passed through the student union on his way back to his dorm. It couldn’t be her. No, no. His eyes betrayed him. After all, he saw the back of her head. It could be any girl. His brain wanted to leave but his feet stood glued in place, and his eyes were pealed on that one girl. Was it her? Was it Ann? Then, as if in slow motion, the girl turned her head, her eyes stopping on his. She smiled, then leaned in toward the strange guy and kissed him full on. A heat swelled within his chest. Why was she doing this? If she wanted to break up with him, she could have said something instead of this show. The heat within continued to swell and his nostrils pulsed. Before he knew it he was upon the both of them. His fists clenched to his sides.
One way to begin a scene is to start with some kind of action. Readers love action. Not everyone though. Back in the day when the first movie of Speed came out with Keanu Reeves, it was heart stopping action from the word ‘go’. The elevator scene at the beginning of the movie left me breathless. Those of you who saw that movie know what I’m talking about. I then recommended the movie to my mom who, after watching the elevator scene, stopped watching the movie because it was too much of a thrill ride. God bless her. She tried.
Essentially, any scene where events are flowing at a constant/continuous pace is an action scene. Some good ways to depict action in your story include:
Use shorter sentences. They are easier to comprehend, and they allow for faster reading which leads to faster action (You want this).
Use a mixture of action and dialogue. Stay away from long descriptions. It slows down the action.
Don’t write what is going on inside the character’s mind at the time. These thought processes will happen before and after but not during.
Here are some types of scenes that lead to action:
A character or characters faced with a choice and either option is equally as tough.
You’re walking with a friend in a crowded amusement park. In your pocket are some coins, but what you don’t realize is you have a hole in your pocket. The next time you reach in to get them, you may only have a couple quarters left. The hole sucked the rest of your coins and out it went without you knowing it. Well, think of the words you write with as your hole and the reader as your coins. You want to keep your readers hooked and reading, not lost and motivated to put your story down. So…..how do you keep your readers from falling out of that hole?
Your wording should be tightened up, and condensed. In other words, don’t be wordy. It shouldn’t take you several words to get your point across. Here are some examples:
Wordy: The rushing wind hit me in the face and tossed my hair around.
Much Better: The wind slapped my hair.
In this example, both sentences pretty much say the same thing but number 1 uses more words to get to the point. Number 2 is straight forward AND it implies the wind is hitting the person in the face without having said that it is.
Wordy: In the forest it was calm. The sunbeams reached their rays through the trees, and the light was speckled throughout.
Better: Sunbeams fingered through the calm forest leaving speckled light throughout.
Here again all the words in number 1 aren’t needed in order to paint a picture of the setting. It’s boring because too many words are used to describe what few words can actually do. Not only that, but an auxiliary verb like ‘was’ only tells you about it. It doesn’t add to the picture. It takes away from it. Number 2 leaves you with a clear, strong picture in your mind.
Remember something though. When you’re writing your story, write your story. Concentrate on that. THEN, once you have your first draft finished, go back to the beginning and focus on the particulars and details like wordiness.
When it comes to writing tag lines, such as ‘said John,’ sometimes we need other words to say instead of the word ‘said’. Why? Because said gets too monotonous. And in this writer’s opinion, it can ruin the flow. It kind of takes the realism out of the dialogue. So…..what are some alternatives? See the list below.
There are much more than these, but you get the idea. Notice these words dig deeper into the mood/emotions of the speaker. That’s what you want because, what this does, is touch the readers’ emotions. That’s what you want.
How picky are you with your words, when you write? Do you have to choose just the right ones in order for you to move on? Or do you belt them out there onto the page and rework them later? The first way can stop you up and prevent you from making headway at a steady pace. Because what happens is this: a creative idea for your story may have popped into your head, and you might forget it by the time you’re finished making your wording what you ultimately want it to be.
Get the words on paper first along with your ideas and worry about making them just perfectly right later. You can also make notes for yourself along the way about what you want to go back and fix. Your draft will still be there waiting for you.
I’ve read that, when you get to Act III of writing your novel, you are not supposed to add any new information. But I’ve also read that it’s ok to break the rules of writing if it’s done well. So, do you add new information after Act III or not? I say, if it works use it. Then again, before you use it, run it by some beta readers (those who critique your work before you publish it) and get their feedback first. After all, you don’t want to push your reader fans away by disappointing them.