I’m Ann Linquist, freelance writer and online writing instructor. Whether you’re interested in writing fiction, creative nonfiction, or effective business documents, I invite you to explore this site and find out how to reach your writing goals.
I find that part of the joy of revising is that you find connections emerging that you didn’t expect to find.
The house that John and Martha buy turns out to have been previously owned by a couple named Myrna and Zeke who died in an automobile accident on a mad dash to the hospital. Scorpions turn out to have an attraction to candle wax, and red leaves were the main ingredient for the ink used in a famous journal kept by an anonymous online writing student.
Or perhaps this is merely idle galumphing and playing bricoleur. That’s fine. So can you connect these?
Olive with pimento
cracks in the sidewalk
Rosalinda stalked toward us, her thick soled boots announcing her intention to make her presence known. My boss and I, on duty for the afternoon to midnight shift at the Residential Treatment Center for Adolescents, knew we were looking at trouble on the way.
Like most of our residents, she wore clothes that announced that she had been finding things to wear without any adult help, probably for many years. What was different about Rosalinda was how she had turned so many throw-aways into such a unique and oddly impressive outfit.
Anger is a fascinating emotion and one we often find difficult and painful to deal with when it is aimed at us. On the other hand, at certain moments our own anger feels justified and absolutely right.
Let’s explore the emotion of anger by writing dialogue together. I will write two lines to get this scene started. Pitch in with up to two more lines of your own. (It can also be interesting to see what kind of combined creation we can come up with.)
“If you tap that pen on your teeth one more time, I’m going to climb out of my chair and strangle you,” Norma said,
“Ah, you don’t mean that.” Brad tried to make a funny face.
It turns out that you, as writer, become a kind of actor, thinking up the “business” needed to make a scene believable and interesting. It’s one thing to have characters talk to each other, but what are they doing while they talk? Are they gesturing? Making a face of some kind? Picking up an object that suggests something about them or the story? Tugging on their clothing? Doing something with their hair? Fidgeting in some specific way?
These actions work better than attribution. You can almost always replace, he said with something like: Jack subtly ran a hand over his belt buckle to make sure his fly was zipped.
So let’s play around with this. I will start the dialogue, and you can add a few more lines to keep the scene going. However, you have to add the “business” instead of attribution. Here we go….
Yvonne smirked with half-closed eyes. “Yeah, right.”
“No, really. That 2007 Taurus is in primo shape and ready to roll.” Jimbeau smiled to make his one dimple show and dangled a shiny key in front of her face.
Samantha had a disk problem that could not be fixed, so she had to learn to survive while in constant, unremitting, excruciating pain. Her department of twenty customer service phone reps lived in fear of her temper, since Samantha so no reason to tolerate excuses, whining, or lack of effort. Performance in her department suffered because of this rigidity, and she was fired.
She decided to become a pet groomer, imagining how soothing it might be to work with lovable pets all day. On Tuesday, Mrs. Rhinehorn brought her border collie, Sheba, in for grooming at Samantha’s new shop. And….
I stand in front of the window. It has been painted so many times that I can’t get it open. But tonight I try. I wrestle it, pound on the edges, yank at the bottom, push at the top. This window has never been opened to my knowledge.
I am a time traveler. My home time is 2014, where I am a 47-year-old single male named Harold. I am about to go back to when I was seven to find out why we suddenly lost the Cadillac, the home on Miami Beach, and Mom’s mink and then moved to a shack in mountains of western North Carolina.