Conversations: 4/7/2017


Have you found your perfect writing environment? Is it a room with bookshelves on three walls, a comfy reading chair in one corner and your computer desk in the other? Does the remaining wall hold a wide bay window, or French doors that open to your expansive tree-shaded yard? OR is your writing space the laundry folding table in the basement next to the washer and dryer?

Wherever your creative writing location might be, and whatever sights and sounds you may be dealing with as you develop your books, this month I will encourage you to allow your imagination the freedom to send exquisite sights and sounds to your Readers. Each new generation of scientific research proves validity of what authors known for centuries: Readers need to see and hear in order to feel what our characters are experiencing. When they do, they will buy—and keep buying—our books.

When I was teaching high school students World Literature and Advanced Writing, they taught me a lot about the value of communication because their “world” is now ninety percent (or more) visually enhanced soundtracks. So when I requested they read Hard Times by Charles Dickens they’d already heard the opinions of other students and the groans cascaded around the room. The “reading” assignment I gave them surprised even me: draw me a picture or create a cut-out collage of what you’re seeing and hearing about these characters lives.

Dickens wrote extensive descriptive paragraphs depicting a grim and grey town suffocated by industrial industries yet filled with the tapestry of Victorian daily life. The students met the challenge and became more aware of the life some of their ancestors survived. Will they be fans of Charles Dickens? Probably not. However, they will appreciate the view he gave them.

african SavannahTo balance their reading assignments a later assignment was Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton. Here we are exposed to the sights and sounds of South Africa and the visual and palpable story of a Zula father’s search for his children. Often the beauty—or harshness—of the environment gives the author the contrast needed to carry the story.

Here are my first three tips to enhance or begin building your descriptive writing skills:

  • THINK MOVIE. Go to the library or your video collection or “on demand” selections on your TV and watch several movies that relate to the genre you’re writing. TAKE NOTES of the sights and sounds that effect and affect you.
  • OBSERVE the details as if you’re looking through a camera lens. Ask yourself “Why” the director focused on that/those images—then write out your answer.
  • LISTEN to the soundtrack. Replay the movie and close your eyes (or turn away from the screen) as you block out as much of the dialogue as possible and discover the sounds of this story. Be as descriptive as you can in explain (make notes about) what you’re hearing. If a separate soundtrack has been produced you can usually find that through libraries.

There are times I envy authors who lived and wrote their books in the 1800s or 1900s. Then I sit down at my computer, in my 10×10 “office” that I share with my husband, and open a narrow window to listen to birds and dogs and wind and the occasional neighborly conversation three floors below. This is my season to write—my heartbeat on the world’s timeline—and I want to offer my best writing skills to Readers of today and future generations. I hope that is your goal, too. Let’s enjoy this journey together. ⚓︎


ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.  

Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.

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