Monday, May 18, 2015

Hairballs, Hiccoughs, and Howdies by Linda S. Glaz

Hairballs and hiccoughs? What does that have to do with my WIP?
Have you ever read a script? It’s bare bones. Basics. Just the facts, ma’am.
There’s very little in a script to let the readers know that life is happening. Oh, certainly, you have the dialogue and enough direction to give you a skeletal idea of what is taking place, but do you have the hairballs that life brings up? With a script, that takes an expert actor and/or director.
The difference between a script and a novel is life: sights, sounds, tastes, and smells. These are all the things that bring your novel to life. If you have a story with a cat playing a part, does the cat gets hairballs? Do you smell her nasty canned cat food at some point? Is there a litter box that smells so bad it makes you gag?
All of the senses should come into play in either a good or bad way at some point in your book. Because that’s life. Do you have a character who always says “Howdy” rather than “Good day” or “Hello”? And is there a specific reason why is does this? Does it add to or take away from your story?
The senses can do both. They can move the story forward, or bring it to a screeching halt. Would you want to share the smell of a litter box in a romantic moment of your novel? Or would it be a wonderful and terrible find for your antagonist as he creeps through the house? And how might that tie in with how he’s discovered before he murders the family? Or perhaps a loud hiccough at an inopportune moment.
You, as the author, have the same responsibility with your novel that an actor and director have with a script. You need to make the story come alive for your reader. He or she can only see, feel, taste, smell, and hear what you allow them to. They are rather at your mercy, and if none of these senses come alive for the reader, you are left with a bland story.
Try throwing in some hairballs, hiccoughs, and howdies and see how your story develops.


Deborah Dee Harper said...

Linda, I didn't know whether to laugh or gag! :-) What a great post and the perfect reminder to make our work memorable for our readers.


Linda Glaz said...

Well, the cat threw up a hairball in the middle of the night and that gave me the idea. You just never know where an idea's gonna come from! But we do need things that bring reality to our scenes. Maybe not the hairball, but who knows?

Jan Elder said...

Loved this post. Now my thief is posed to step in the smelly litter box in the next scene. And this opens up so many possibilities as to how to catch him! Thanks for the idea!

Linda Glaz said...

Oh, my. I hope that works out. Like the trail of crumbs in Hansel and Gretel?