Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Does Everything Fit?

I have to admit with spring my thoughts inevitably turn to diets and summer clothes. So, "Does it Fit?" seemed an appropriate question for my blog. "Does what fit?" you ask.

Think about the way you clothe your characters. Is your tough little tomboy dressed the part, or did you put her in ruffles and lace? That seems obvious, I know, but what about the fine details...Are her shoelaces untied? Is her hair sliding out of her ponytail and hanging in her face, or is it tucked into a baseball cap? What about her name? Is it Melissa, Wendy, Lily or does she go by a nickname, like Spike or Rocky? Be sure the name fits the character.

If your character is studious and very bright you might call him Albert(it worked for Einstein), or some other name you might associate with intelligence. Does this eight year old keep a pencil behind his ear? Does he have a habit of reading everything including street signs, cereal boxes, other people's mail? Does he dress in an absentminded way, buttoning his shirt wrong or forgetting to tuck in half of his shirttail?

And what about the places we go? Is the setting for your mystery just a little uncomfortable and scary? Does the weather add to the spooky feel of the place? Perhaps the setting is too sweet, too quiet, too picturesque, that can work too. Haven't you felt it, that uncomfortable feeling you have when things are just too perfect? Think Stepford Wives.

Give your romance a romantic sounding and looking location and romantic weather to go with it. Put it in Sunset Cove, sheltered from the harsh ocean breezes and warmed by the sun, or some other cozy desirable location. Just make sure your setting adds to the story and isn't just a place to set your characters down.

Don't overlook the name of your location. Something sinister sounding might be just right for your mystery. Perhaps the house at the end of Dead Indian Road. (There really is a road by that name.)Perhaps your romance could be set in Dove Hill or the town of Dearheart. Don't make your reader guess what kind of story they are reading. Clothe your story locations and characters in wonderful descriptive and appropriate attire. When you are done ask yourself, "Does Everything Fit?"

(c) Sharon A. Soffe 2006


Anonymous said...

I sure had a problem with naming locations! At one time, I called the bayou in Swamp Spells Bonner Bayou. But it was easy to "slip up" on the pronunciation...

"Hey kids! Let's all go to Boner Bayou!" Nope. Not good.


Anonymous said...

This is great advice even for illustrators who are responsible for transforming text into images. Thanks a whole bunch.
Nicole Brekelbaum

Donna J. Shepherd said...

Funny, Kels.

I agree with Nicole. Great advice!