Monday, February 24, 2014

Target Practice for Writers

My life consists of zipping around all day, dropping my kids off at school, practices, sporting events.You better believe I will take any and every shortcut to make my route quicker. When constructing your protagonist's route or story arc, he will most likely want to take the shortcut to reach his destination or his goal. And when he insists on getting from point A to point B the fastest way, you will without hesitation throw obstacles in his way faster than my son can shoot a BB gun.

When I was growing up, my sister and I walked or rode our bikes everywhere. We became experts at finding the shortcut to the park, the creek, the giant indoor swimming arena located two miles out of town. Even though we passed the beginner course eons ago, my mom insisted on signing us up for extra lessons. For Pete's sake, we were already on the swim team! We passed advanced swimming lessons, diving lessons, lifeguard training lessons where you jump into the water and try to make flotation devices out of your clothing.

Getting your protagonist from point A to point B means target practice for you as a writer. To get to the swimming pool across town, this is what happened every time my sister and I chose to take the shortcut:
1. Sneak through neighbor's yard to get to railroad tracks
2. Walk along the tracks and get off whenever a train passed, avoiding sudden death
3. Cut through the middle of an insane asylum to get to swimming pool.

Yes, you heard me correctly. We were young and stupid, what can I say? This facility had no gates, no security, no high walls. It was the eighties. Mentally challenged residents went for strolls along the lawns, sidewalks, rooftops. OK, it wasn't that bad. Most of the time a caregiver accompanied the residents. But, occasionally, one would wander alone, mumbling angry words and balling his fists like he was ready to rumble. I grabbed my sister's arm, squeezed my eyes shut and increased our speed. We always made it through the shortcut and reached our destination.Your protagonist will too. Just make it nearly impossible the next time he chooses to take the shortcut.

#MondayBlogs #amwriting #writingtip

Monday, February 10, 2014

Heterochromia, Scooby-Doo and the Disappearing Smile

No, the title of this blog post is not the title of my next book. My writer's research led me to discover the correct term for when a person has two different colored eyes. Heterochromia is when one iris is a different color from the other one and is not to be confused with two different colors present in one iris. Some celebrities with heterochromia include: Jane Seymour, Kiefer Sutherland, Dan Aykroyd, and Kate Bosworth. There can be any number of possible color combinations. Try not to stare at people or animals with heterochromia. It's probably rude, but I'm sure it can't be helped.

I've also been studying paintings in which the eyes seem to move with you as you walk past. I think Scooby-Doo can be credited for giving us the creeps when we were kids by using this technique. The eyes are painted with an eerie realism. The key is to look at these paintings at eye level, then start walking around the room. Some examples having this effect are the famous portraits of the Mona Lisa, Harry Houdini and Edgar Allen Poe.

The disappearing Mona Lisa smile fascinates me. When looking at da Vinci's Mona Lisa, stare at her eyes and she appears to be smiling. Now look down at her mouth and the smile disappears. It helps with a larger image of the painting. And the closer you are to viewing the painting, the more she will appear to be smiling.

When a person tells a lie, the eyes usually give them away. People tend to look in the upper right hand corner of the air as if searching for an answer. They also get itchy on the tip of their nose or around the collar. I have allergies, so please don't mistake my itchy nose as a sure sign of a chronic liar. Try adding some of these details to your writing for "showing" instead of "telling." Now, go take a peek at the spooky portraits of Houdini and Poe, two of my favorite people in American history.

"You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." Mark Twain

#amwriting #research #MondayBlogs #eyes #paintings

June #IWSG: The Perfect Storm

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