I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Friday, July 30, 2010

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

Photo by juliaf/stockxchang.com


The year I learned to read, our family moved to the suburbs of Vancouver, Washington, right across the street from a well-stocked library. Cara Newell, the grandmotherly librarian, became my best friend. She let me check out approximately two books a day, followed by leisurely discussions about their content.

For a while, my life goal became to establish a floating library houseboat up and down the mighty Columbia River, bringing books to people who had none. Then, during the third grade, I began writing about anything and everything.

Reading expands our world, letting us share amazing armchair adventures of Hillary climbing Everest or Armstrong walking on the moon. Besides letting us travel to other cultures and times, reading fills our hunger and thirst for knowledge with unending reservoirs of wonderful new experiences.

Years ago while working as a receptionist in Texas for a prestigious international real estate firm, I was allowed to read while I covered the phones over lunch hour. One day I chose Peter Freuchen's nonfiction Book of the Eskimos. I instantly became absorbed in blood-chilling, life-threatening white-out Arctic blizzard conditions defying survival. Winds howled so fiercely that those braving the storm had to walk bent over, almost lying down on the wind, to gain each step forward.

At that precise moment, with swirling winds howling their fiercest, Bart, the comptroller, and Joe, the vice president, flung open the office door and strode in. Horrified that they ventured into blizzard conditions without coats, I looked up and asked, "Joe! Bart! Where are your parkas?"

They never let me live that down.

As an author, Freuchen succeeded in creating writing magic--bringing me fully into the world of his story.

As we spread our wings to share our love for writing, may our described experiences also be so vivid that our readers equally savor the reality of our writing world.

~Delores Topliff

16 comments:

  1. Such a vivid example of the importance of drawing our readers into the story, Dee! I'm reading my manuscript one more time before hitting "Send" -- and I know I'll be thinking about this post as I do my final read-through.

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  2. Delores, I LOVED how you shared your stories! :) Your descriptions drew me into your world, if only for a moment. I will ponder your words as I write, with the hopes that any one who may eventually read my offering would be engrossed, and pointed to the One who gives the gift of "writing magic." Thanks!

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  3. Dee!! You never cease to surprise me! My favorite part of this was picturing you planning the floating library before you even hit the third grade. My second favorite part? Feeling a shiver as I read about the blizzard, even though it is (even still at 11 pm PST) nearly 80 degrees here in Spokane!

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  4. Our goal as writers should always be to pull the reader so far in that they want to put on parka's in the mid-summer heat! I love the descriptiveness (is that a word???) of your writing! Thanks for encouraging me to write more vivid scenes!

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  5. Instead of iced tea and a swimming pool, I'm craving hot chocolate and a hot bath. Storyworld helps our stories come alive, just as your post did. Well done, friend! I can picture you running a houseboat up and down the Columbia River. :)

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  6. I'm kind of a local traveling librarian--delivering stacks of books to friends. But I never thought of a houseboat. Fun. :-)

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  7. LOL! That's hilarious, Delores! At ACFW last year Debbie Macomber encouraged us to write down specific goals. This one's going on my list! I want to write a scene where someone will be so engrossed in it that they'll be shocked the folks around them aren't wearing parkas.

    Sons of Thunder pretty well did that for me. I walked on the sands of a beach in Greece, went right inside a speakeasy, and almost throttled that Nazi.

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  8. Dee, brilliant, you certainly encouraged us to make sure we are sucking our readers into our world!

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  9. Dee, I loved your post! I too worked as a receptionist in days gone by and a similar thing happened to me. I'd actually forgotten the event until your post reminded me.

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  10. I needed that blast of cold air-it's a 100 degrees in Mississippi. Dee, your post inspires me polish my words until the reader can feel the heat from the pavement.

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  11. Dee, I looooved your post. Such a great reminder and so amusingly stated!! Loved the photo, too. I will look just like that all too soon when Iowa brings on its usual winter flair. It takes such skill to really draw a reader in...I agree with Teri, Sons of Thunder totally did that for me.

    Sidenote about being sucked in...once I was helping my mom make peanut brittle around the holidays. She had to run to the store for ingredients for a few other Christmas treats. She left me with instructions to stir the brittle as it bubbled in a pan on the stovetop. Which I did. With my nose in a book. Eventually, I got so sucked in I stopped stirring and just stood there reading. When my mom got home, she walked into a kitchen filled with smoke. Me? Oblivious. Thirty seconds later, the smoke alarms went off. True story.

    The engrossing book, you ask? Nancy Drew. Note: I was a kid when this happened. I sooo don't do stuff like that anymore. (People who know me, please stop laughing...)

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  12. One more note: This post has me questioning...do my most suck-in-able scenes come when I, too, as the writer am completely caught up my story? Or do they come when I am purposefully employing the things I've learned (mainly from My Book Therapy - can't plug it enough!)? At first stab, I would've said when I'm sucked into my own story. But lately, I'm not sure that's the case...because as I've been revising hardcore, I realize that as I use Susie's tips and work hard to infuse my story with FOCUS (see Susie's article in the recent Voices e-zine), I'm creating a much richer storyworld. Whereas, sometimes when I'm sucked in, I pigeon-hole on dialogue or on just the "happening" in the scene without giving my characters a "place." I guess I need both - the hyper writing when I'm all sucked in and the care and attention of revision...

    Sorry, rambling...you got me thinking, Dee!

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  13. Dee, I loved your post and can't wait for your next post to read more of your stories!

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  14. Melissa, I have a little FOCUS notecard on my desk by the computer to remind me. I think it's probably both being engross in the scene when we write AND the hard-core editing.

    And if you burn things, you would SO get along with my daughter. Somehow I failed her when it comes to the kitchen.

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  15. I'm sitting here pondering the power of word pictures. When I begin to read a novel, I eagerly anticipate being drawn into the story.
    Once I started writing, I realized just how intentional an author must be to create these compelling word pictures!

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  16. Wonderful post. You really drew me into the story and made me want to go pick up a great adventure book. Thank you!

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