Googling Inspiration and Keeping Characters in Motion

Kellis Independence NecklaceIt’s been a while since I wrote a blog post that dealt with writing, I know, I know…life has had me struggling to find focus on my life, family, and job and not so much on writing. Attempting to find a line that balances everything is daunting. I have the good days and bad days for both, but that’s life, right?

Today I was at work on my lunch break when I pulled up my current WIP to do some edits while eating. I realized I needed to add a bit more to the scene and wanted to describe the necklace my character was wearing. Instead of imagining a necklace, I went to the internet and Googled what I saw in my head and searched until I found an image that spoke to me. From there, the description grew from a simple necklace to so much more…which led to writing this blog post.

I like editing because all of the words have been written and the story has been told. All that’s left is fine tuning. For me, this involves sending it out to beta readers to get their feedback and then sitting down to review their suggestions as I go over the story for what feels like the hundredth time. In doing so, I try to look at it from the readers point of view and not as the author. This means reviewing every line, every thought, every action a character makes. It’s paying attention to the fact that while I can see the scene in my head and know exactly what kind of facial expression they have as a reflection of a thought or in response to someone else and their surroundings, the reader cannot. While dialogue is the main ingredient to any story, especially when there is a poignant conversation going on, there has to be action.

And by action, I mean more than the ‘he/she looked, walked, laughed, cried, and sighed’ tags.

I’m talking about the finer things that we do. People aren’t stiff and unmoving. Unless we are asleep, the human body is in constant motion, especially if we are experiencing an emotion or thought.

It kind of reminds me of the vampires of Twilight. If you’ve ever read Breaking Dawn, you should remember when Bella was turned into a vampire and gets schooled by the Cullen’s on how to ‘look’ human even though she isn’t anymore. As vampires, they no longer had the need to blink or breathe or cross their legs. Their bodies were still. She was told that if she didn’t make a conscious effort to do those things when around humans, it would draw attention to the fact that something was off.

This is just as true in writing.

If you have a scene that involves multiple characters engaged in conversation, at some point somebody has to move. Movement shows life, makes things real. Lack of action turns characters into robots. A scene that is written with just ‘he said/she said’ dialogue is dull and boring and a reader, especially one who is a serious book lover and who has read hundreds of books by hundreds of different authors, will notice. They may not be able to put their fingers on it exactly, but there will always be something about that story that made it ‘blaaa’ and not, ‘great!’

But what if the scene goes from dialogue to internal monologue and back to dialogue? How do you make that stream of conscious thought flow back to the present without missing a beat? Add action.

Here’s an example from a scene I edited today. This is from the upcoming 5th novel of The Butterfly Memoirs, Alone.

Setup:

Two characters are sitting in the kitchen talking, but during the conversation, which is in the female leads POV, she thinks back to the events of her day and a moment of revelation due to the changes in her life. She goes into an internal monologue but it flows back to dialogue by way of adding action on not only her part, but also the person she talking to.

Excerpt:

Derrick’s attention went to the meat on his plate as he sliced off a chunk, put it in his mouth, and chewed. “Damn, this is good. You’ve got great taste.”

“Thanks.” I diverted my attention before I stared. Watching him chew was a turn-on, and when he licked his lips, well…flashback to him stripping in the living room and the ripped muscles of his chest and abs had heat rising in my belly. I could feel my skin flush.

My body’s reaction made no sense. I should not be attracted to Derrick.  The man irritated me beyond reason.

No, my problem right now was my raised libido because for once in my life, I stopped trying to be a mother for a few hours and focused on being a woman.

After lopping off my hair during a fit of emotional rage, my first stop had been to have the remaining tresses professionally styled by a beautician. The good news: because of my unconventional haircut, I no longer had split ends.

 The mani and pedi that followed and a splurge on a sexy outfit at the mall took care of the outward appearance.

Then there was the stop at the costume jewelry store.

I’d been looking for a pair of earrings to accent the new hair style and outfit, but got sidetracked when a necklace caught my eye. It wasn’t gaudy or extravagant. It wasn’t studded with faux diamonds or fake gold. Instead, it was a simple piece of metal shaped like a butterfly.

The top part of the wings were black with flecks of green and blue, but the bottom of the wings were tipped in a deep, rich shade of purple, which was my favorite color. I’d immediately selected the necklace out of the display case and held it in my hands. The feeling that came over me as my fingers ran over the piece brought on a sense of peace nothing else ever could.

It was as if the butterfly had become my talisman.

If butterflies were viewed as symbols for change and growth, than the events of my day had led to a major turning point in my life.

I was no longer a wife.

I was a mother.

My kids needed me.

I needed me.

Nothing from this day forward would ever be the same. Where I would go from here, I had no clue. I only knew that I would find my way and care for my kids the best way I knew how.

Though the trinket wasn’t expensive and didn’t make an eye-catching statement, to me, it was priceless.

Absently, I found myself stroking the pendent that sat flush against the opening of my shirt and rested on the tops of my breasts.

Derrick’s eyes drifted down to the opening and lingered. I forced myself to keep my smile internal.

 The final stop of the night had been at Long Horn Steak House to see what type of attention the new getup garnered.

Yet, no matter how many men whistled or gawked, the way Derrick looked at me right now did the most for my ego.

“Tell me about your family. Do you have siblings?”

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Well, that’s my tip for the day. Hope it helped! For more writing tips, follow this link.

Until next time, happy writing!

 

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