Modern readers often skip over passages of description in search of the action scenes in fiction. This, like channel-surfing, may be a sign of the shorter attention span of our times.
That’s why it’s critical to incorporate a sense of place into the scenes as you tell your story. Short story writer and novelist, Eudora Welty, is a master of creating settings that are as powerful as her characters. In her essay “Place in Fiction,” she reminds us:
Harris Beach, Brookings, Oregon, by Jacalyn McNamara 2014
“Location is the ground conductor of all the currents of emotion and belief and moral conviction that charge out from the story in its course. These charges need the warm hard earth underfoot, the light and lift of air, the stir and play of mood, the softening bath of atmosphere that give the likeness-to-life . . . ”
Whether you’re writing mysteries, science fiction, or literary fiction, this “likeness-to-life” makes your story real for the reader.
“This is what I believe: That I am I,
That my soul is a dark forest,
That my known self will never be more than a clearing in the forest,
That gods, strange gods, come forth from the forest into the clearing of my known self, and then go back,
That I must have the courage to let them come and go,
That I will never let mankind put anything over me, but that I will always try to honor the gods in me and the gods in other men and women,
There is my creed.
Redwood Forest by Jacalyn McNamara 2014
A creed is a set of beliefs that guide your actions. Many adopt the creeds of a formal religious group or an organization to which they belong. But freethinkers must generate creeds of their own since they are originators in the world.
What set of beliefs guides you as artist and writer? Take time to think on this and share your creed with me or on your own blog.
After fasting days,
I breakfast with a ripe peach
and two quick earwigs.
Still Life with Peaches, attributed to Mary Jane Peale, c. 1860 . 10.25″ x 7″
A reminder from Franz Kafka:
You do not need to leave your room.
remain sitting at your table and listen.
writer’s studio–inside and out jacalyn mcnamara 2014
Don’t even listen. Simply wait.
Don’t even wait. Be still and solitary.
The world will freely offer itself to you
to be unmasked, it has no choice.
It will roll in ecstasy at your feet.