Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Time for a Coffee Break

I'm sailing toward 12,000 words. That's maybe a fifth or sixth of the total, depending on how long it ends up. I get annoyed when reading books that describe in detail how people look and what they're wearing; only tell me if it contributes to their character or the plot. I feel like those descriptions are shortcuts for characterization. Don't tell me what they look like, show me what they do--this reveals more. My own tendency is to leave things out, to describe only what I believe is important.

But I also realize this is a personal bias. Some details are necessary, I think. And if I want a reader to be able to imagine a scene, I need to provide more clues. When I'm finished (in this calendar year, I hope!) I think I'll be better equipped to go back to the beginning and fill in those details as needed.

I have a little bit more to write today before I reach my word count goal (12,000 by 6:30). And because there's something in me that won't actually allow me to surpass that goal, I'm taking a coffee break. I got my first taste of coffee when I was seven or eight. My mom would leave her almost-empty mugs around the house (that last bit of room-temperature coffee that's a yummy mixture of cream and sugar), and I would finish them up. When I went to France at age fifteen for a two-week trip, my host family served me gigantic mugs of coffee. Actually, they were more like bowls. I eagerly drank it up, as I was too picky to drink anything else. By the time I got to their school an hour later, I was shaking from all the caffeine.

By the time I got to college, I was a cup-a-day drinker, and by the time I graduated, I was a many-cups-a-day drinker. Today, I've cut down on my Starbucks and started using a French Press. All the caffeine for a third of the price.


Aki Mori said...

Your fast-forward, caffeinated account of coffee in your life made me laugh. So, you also write humor too, eh?

August said...

Ha! Humor, thank you. I think I'm hilarious, but it rarely manifests itself in writing. Or in other people laughing;)

I showed my grandma my first "nana story" and she said, "You're not a funny writer, huh. This is very factual."

Tonja said...

Did you ever think about writing a play or screenplay? I couldn't do it - I do use a lot of descriptions and not as much dialogue. You would be great at it!

August said...

Thanks Tonja -- I've never given that any thought, though a friend and I wrote the script for the 48hr film fest a couple years ago. Our genre was comedy, and we had to use a purple prop and a line of dialogue: "You know what they say..." Also, a character had to be named "Morton." We had only Friday night to write it so filming could begin Saturday.