Daily Archives: August 28, 2011

Writing Even When I’m Not

Writers tend to be quiet but that doesn’t mean we aren’t taking mental notes. Everything we experience could be digested for our work.

Saturday was one of those days when I was alone but not lonely. I like to get out on weekends because I feel tied down all week, while at work. This Saturday, I pampered myself with a manicure and a pedicure. Summer and sandals gives me a great excuse to indulge in what I feel is a most relaxing experience. The only thing I can think of that is more relaxing is a massage and I will have to schedule another one of those someday. The women at the salon ranged from teens to more mature women, like me. Didn’t happen to see any men there, either as customers or technicians.  As I said earlier, during the week I am tied to a desk and really don’t have the chance to watch people. On weekends when I am out and about, I make up for it. Not because I am trying to be nosy, but for my writing. I might see someone who reminds me of a character I am developing. You never know, it could happen.

Watching people gives me cues for facial expressions, how they move, and how they interact with others.  Watching is important because as a writer I have to be able to describe everything. I’ve always thought it was like painting but with words. It also allows me to look at the setting. I might have a scene at a nail salon someday.  What do I see, hear, smell, and feel as I am sitting there. Listening to conversations allows me to pick up on current speech patterns and phrases. Just watching lets me see how people dress and what they do. I think I was the only woman who didn’t either use or check my cell phone the whole time I was there. When I first walked in, there was a strong chemical smell. Stronger than the normal smell of polish and whatever they use for those fake nails. I found out that they have a new shellac finish that makes the polish last longer. I opted out, because of the smell. The warm water swirled and bubbled around my feet in the foot bath, the  chair was smooth wood and leather, and the chair itself jiggled everything as it massaged my upper and lower back muscles.

Watching people is not new for me, I have always enjoyed it. Attending the state fair, shopping, walking around the mall, around the lake or wherever, I look for anything that might help me with my fiction. I know that it works because, I was working on a story once with a character who was a female impersonator in Vegas. She was one of three characters I loved in this story. The other two were a couple of older women, Freida and Agnes. They were from Keokuk, Iowa. They liked to play slots. I described them as wearing polyester pants with matching sweatshirts with slot machines embroidered on the front. When they got on a plane with the protagonist, the tickets were mixed up. The protagonist ended up sitting between them. When she offered to switch seats, they told her no, if they crashed it would make it harder to be identified. My female impersonator character’s name was Merci Fontaine. I described her as tall, over six foot, she wore size 12 stilettos, she had a deep voice, a little five o’clock shadow, and her long fingers were tipped with red polish. I don’t remember much more of her description without pulling out the old story but I described the character so well that a member of my writing group came to the next meeting to tell me she’d seen Merci. I took that as a great compliment.

My trip to the nail salon helped me build my description library. I also walked out with prettier fingers and toes.

What do you do to help with descriptions? Do you use your own senses to see, hear, feel, taste and record, or do you rely on a reference book for descriptions?

Finished reading ‘Love Lies Bleeding‘. Currently reading two books. ‘Murder Most Persuasive‘ by Tracy Kiely – It is an advance copy I was lucky enough to win on Librarything. Will have a review for it as well when I have completed it.  Started reading ‘Valley of the Soul‘ by Tamara Siler Jones – another of my critique partners. Valley is the third in her series and she is currently working on the fourth.

Happy Writing



Posted by on August 28, 2011 in Writing a Novel


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