Monday, April 25, 2011

Moving Pictures

Writing that comes alive in a reader's mind uses what I call the D.A.D. Technique(Description, Action, and Dialogue) to connect the movie playing in the writer's imagination to the blank screen in the reader's head. The vivid verbal movie is in "HD" and "3D" when the writer employs multisensory imagery and realistic dialogue, along with revealing close ups on characters, to transfer the footage to the reader. Writing that uses only dialogue conveys a mere audio clip, with a blank picture. Writing that uses only visual description without enough action serves as a mere slide show; whereas action scenes, with little description and no dialogue, portray nothing more than a silent movie in the reader's cerebral screen.

Memorable words comprise experiences, first conceived in a writer's mind, and then translated into words that SHOW, not merely tell about the scene. If we writers cannot get a clear picture of a scene in our own heads, we are not yet ready to transfer that scene to paper, and then to a reader's mind. Writing to communicate word pictures requires time to imagine and time to craft a preview version, time to share the preview, and time to revise it before the debut of the fully developed feature film of words.

As books move more and more to screens over pages, we writers need to keep in mind the importance of creating memorable images to compete with our sister industry, that of Film.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Prompted by Poetry...

Miller’s Faithful Ball-Fetcher
(a dog’s-eye view response to Miller Williams’s poem “Listen")
By Susan L. Lipson (4/11)

Where’d it go? Where’d it go?
He threw the white ball, I saw it!
So where’d it go?
No smell to follow?
Maybe the chilling wind grabbed the scent from me?
My nose feels so cold, freezing cold,
Colder than my paws, now sinking into shifting, wet ground—
What humans call “snow,” I think.
Maybe the ball sunk, too?
“I’ll find it, Master!” I bark.
He barks back my name, “Fritz,” and “Come!”
I ignore him and keep searching,
Fearing that he’ll lose faith in me,
The Best Ball Fetcher, his Good Dog!
I’ll make a bigger loop.
Sniff, sniff, sniff…no luck.
He barks again,
And I bark back, “No, I didn’t find it yet!
But I will! I’m trying! I’ll bring it back to you!”
Round and round and round I run,
Till my paws feel numb.
I hang my head.
Failure. Bad Dog.
I shake off the dampness
And trudge toward him,
My tail between my legs.

Why does he pet me now?
He can’t possibly be proud!
So why?
He won’t stop petting me,
Softly speaking my name,
Petting and petting me
With his warm hands,
Till we both feel warm again.


By Miller Williams

I threw a snowball across the backyard.
My dog ran after it to bring it back.
It broke as it fell, scattering snow over snow.
She stood confused, seeing and smelling nothing.
She searched in widening circles until I called her.

She looked at me and said as clearly in silence
as if she had spoken,
I know it's here, I'll find it,
went back to the center and started the circles again.

I called her two more times before she came
slowly, stopping once to look back.

That was this morning. I'm sure that she's forgotten.
I've had some trouble putting it out of my mind.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Game of Things

My friends brought over a fun word game the other night: The Game of Things. One person picks a category card that describes "Things that...," and everyone writes her/his example to fit that category on individual slips of paper. The player who chose the card collects all of the slips and reads them aloud. Then the players guess, one by one, who wrote which example/answer, pondering and usually laughing over the appropriateness of each response.

One of the players at our table picked a category card that read something like, "Things that Will Keep You from Getting to Heaven." My smart friend Tina's response will stay with me for a long time: "A lack of good direction." Literally and figuratively, one needs good direction to get to Heaven, yes! That answer won my prize for memorable words--a mention in my blog! Woo hoo!

How would YOU answer this category with a double entendre: "Things that Move"? Or how about "Things that Slow People Down"?

Can you make up your own category that might lend itself to a profound double meaning? Try it; it's fun!

P.S. My answers to the above two proposed categories: "letters being typed into words" and "worn-out soles/souls."