Writing a Picture By Janyre Tromp
Part of an artist’s job is to see the things other people miss and introduce the two. As a novelist, I walk through life almost constantly distracted, curious about the frost creeping up the garage window, the lichen on a tree, the distinctive way someone walks or speaks.
I have files of disjointed impressions, thoughts, people, and scenes that just might eventually find their way into my writing. It’s me introducing something I saw or heard to my reader. You’d be amazed how much emotion can be infused into your writing by using vivid scene description from my files of memories.
For example, I wrote this quick scene after walking my son to the bus stop. It was cold and my breath puffed in front of me as we walked by the forest path. And I suddenly pictured a frightened girl walking the path. She was a runner for an underground group of some kind and she just catches something out of the corner of her eye…
I blinked and he was gone. The vapor from his breath still rising in the air. Unconnected. Alone. I turned slow circles. Searching again.
The shadows shifted amongst the trees and I knew they’d sent him.
The colors bled around me watercolors dripping through space. Collecting at my feet.
Most of the time I don’t have full flashes of a scene like this one. But who knows where that scene might crop up.
Usually I note everyday sights and how they strike me or, even more, how they might strike a particular character.
Maybe it’s the sluggish movement of the creek all gummed up with seaweed. If I’m writing a book with a teen who loves to be outside, that little sight becomes a metaphor for how my character views the last 15 minutes of school.
Or maybe it’s the birds on a telephone wire—beaks pulled in and all puffed up against the cold. I don’t know about you, but I can identify, and I bet you might have a character who can too.
Or maybe it’s the moon caught behind a haze of clouds—the light ineffectual against the darkness. I have a character who sees God that way—a weak light hovering above us, but he doesn’t seem strong enough to make any difference at all.
Or maybe you have a timid character and icicles on the roof of her antagonist’s house look like jagged teeth. Can you just see a character walking up to that? You wouldn’t have to say she’s intimidated if the house has a gaping maw. But you could just as easily have the character see the sunshine bend through the icicles, sending dancing sparks of light across the ground. It’s the same sight but seen from two different points of view.
So, this week, I challenge you to take an everyday sight from your life and turn it into a useable snippet for your book or blog. Maybe take one image (like the icicles) and give it both a happy and chilling twist.
Then hop back here and share on of your mini scenes. We’d love to hear it and learn from how you see the world.
Janyre Tromp is a developmental editor by day and a writer at night. She has 3 books traditionally published books – a juvenile fiction, That Sinking Feeling, and 2 board books in the All About God’s Animals series. Her passion is writing about the beauty of the world, past and present, even when it isn’t pretty. Check out her brand new blog (that’s another thing she learned to do at the conference) at BeautifulUglyMe.com