Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Storm of Words

I woke this morning to the sound of the generator, which means I can write today.  Yeah! What a better way to wait out a hurricane than with a flurry of words, great food, and no interruptions.  On Saturday, I    drove down to Highlights in Honesdale, PA for a four day writing retreat, not knowing what the impending storm would make of my plans.  As the winds picked up, and the news got more sensationalized, we decided to ditch the cabins and hole up in the Main house where the generator would kick on automatically, and where we wouldn't have to get our feet wet when we ventured out for meals.

Turned out to be a great plan.  Spent the entire day yesterday re-crafting a mid-grade novel, and when we needed a nosh, who should show up but a male model with a culinary degree. I kid you not! Jo Lloyd, you think of everything!

Oh, gotta go - he made omelettes.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Voice, Imagery and Figurative Language

The other evening I attended the launch party for a new online literary magazine.  The Oak Orchard Review will feature writers and artists from Western New York, especially those who have a tie to the Oak Orchard creek area in Orleans, Niagara and Genesee counties. In their submission guidelines the editors mentioned that they look for a clear sense of voice, concrete imagery and compelling figurative language, and I realized how universal those three elements are.  And how connected the universe seems to be.  That same day I received an acceptance to speak about voice, imagery and language at the New England SCBWI conference next May.  So, it seems like a good topic to discuss here. 

No matter what you write - poetry or prose, fiction or nonfiction - voice, imagery and figurative language are essential ingredients for success.  They are  just as important when describing a current event as they are creating a fantasy world.  

In order to hone my abilities in V, I and FL, I keep a notebook of words, descriptions and phrases that ring true that other writers have created.  One that I fell in love with at the poetry reading was created by Amy D'Amico. The leaves "typed" across the pavement.  Instantly I heard that dry clatter sound.  Another phrase I liked was written by Nathaniel R. Fuller in his short story, Aster -- the man had "more warts than prayers God actually listened to."  Who can't picture that guy? And you also hear the narrator's voice, jaded and world-weary. A two-fer. Excellent.

What words have captured your imagination? Keep a notebook and open your ears. Listen to the wonderful voices that surround you. It will make you a better writer regardless of what you write -- fiction or non-.