Authors such as Dr. Seuss was a genius at bending words and phrases.
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.
And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.
But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.
From Oh! The Places You’ll Go. Even now, as an adult, I pull out that treasured book and read it. It transcends time and the message is clear to both adults and children.
What is it that makes those of us who write want to describe things in a new way? As readers, we revel and swoon when we read something that touches us — deeply — in a funny, sad, joyous or angry way. We feel.
That’s every writer’s dream; to write something magical — not only for our own narcissistic selves but for those who may happen upon it. I have saved most every snippet of my writing since I was in love with doing it and God bless my Mom who managed to save a few as well.
The picture accompanying this blog is my “Activity Book for Believe and Make-Believe” from the fourth grade. (I grew up in a very rural, small school) I read it and a powerful phrase stands out that I’ve used to write this blog and surely, will show up in my writing in the future.
In one of the “Diagnostic Tests,” I had to read a very short story about an Indian chief and his braves. After the story, I had to answer questions about what I got from the story. The Chief was trying to get his braves to secure food for the upcoming winter. These guys had to secure protein in order for the tribe to survive. Making a racket and waving things scared the bison and some would run off the cliffs. The women and boys would wait near the cliff to see which ones took the bait — some did — and the ones that didn’t were driven back to the plains.
One of the questions were: “What did the Indian women and boys do when they got a signal?”
Make racket and wave things.
I continue to try to describe things in a new way in my writing. I’m working on a short story where I describe a female’s hair in a particular way that I think is brilliant; now whether a agent, publisher, judge or my wonderful writing group agrees with that is a whole different story.
So, when you’re stumped for ideas or a way in which you want to describe a person, place or thing, take a clue from a song, quote, smell, a story you wrote as a child, a sunset or the last dinner you cooked. Browned biscuits, a burnt piecrust — how can you employ those things to your writing to describe this or that? A curling vine, a lipstick smudge left on a wine glass, a pinkish, worn-down eraser on a Number 2 pencil?
If all else fails, make racket and wave things — it worked for me.
(And oh yeah, Happy Leap Day!)