by Adam Huddleston
Several weeks ago, I began a blog series on the Snowflake Method. I posted my progress on a story I was working on, and to tell you the truth, I just lost interest in the tale. It’s still there, resting on the back burners with the motley crew of other stories that have seeped from my brain, but I wanted to try out some new content. If you remember, step 1 is the tagline.
A baker must nurture his magical powers to close an extra-dimensional portal and save his kingdom.
What Did You See?
By Cait Collins
Test your powers of observation.
You are standing in line at the bank. Every teller is busy. Each teller has five or six people in his line. It’s nearly 5:00 P.M on Friday. The lobby is warmer than usual. The teller for your line is moving slowly. You’re getting impatient. Just when you start complaining about the sloppy service, the patron at the counter leaves. The teller’s face is pale and her hands are shaking. You place your deposit on the counter and put your palms flat on the polished wood counter top. She hesitates, and says “Excuse me. I’ll be right back.” A few minutes pass and the bank manager comes to the window. “I apologize for the inconvenience, but I need you to move to the window on your right.” Not so fast, I’ve been waiting for half an hour.” “Please cooperate. The bank’s just been robbed.”
The police arrive and begin questioning the customers. Put yourself in the shoes of the witnesses. Answer the following questions from the point of view of the following patrons: yourself, a harried young mother with three small children, and the teller.
What did you see?
Was the person in front of you male or female?
Height, build, hair color?
What was the suspect wearing?
Did you notice any jewelry, glasses?
Did you touch anything at the counter?
This really happened. I was the person standing in line and getting impatient because I was running late for my shift at the Disney Store. Not only did I give a statement to the police, the FBI interviewed me. I could give them the gender, height, hair color, clothing, glasses, yes, I had touched the counter top. The FBI agent showed me a picture of the suspect leaving the building. My description was accurate. It’s been nearly 15 years and I still remember the look on the teller’s face and remember her apology for walking away from me when I came up to her window. I can describe the teller and the suspect. And I remember that “I don’t believe this is happening feeling.
Writers must be observant. We must look around and really see the scene. Do you go to the mall and watch the people? A couple of hours after leaving the mall could you describe at least one person? What did you smell? What did you hear? Observing not only the place but also the sounds, scents, colors, and people allows us to recreate a similar scene in our stories. Observation empowers our work. Test yourself next time you’re out and about. Look around. What do you see?
A Few Quotes for Motivation
“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”
— Anne Frank
“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
― Sylvia Plath
“When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.”
— Stephen King
“People say, ‘What advice do you have for people who want to be writers?’ I say, they don’t really need advice, they know they want to be writers, and they’re gonna do it. Those people who know that they really want to do this and are cut out for it, they know it.”
— R.L. Stine
Over the Hill
by Adam Huddleston
I stand at the top of the hill. My forties stretch out before me. In the distance, I can see where the land rises to another hill, somewhat shorter than this one. I suppose its normal for a person to evaluate their life when they reach certain milestones. Tim McGraw sang about his future after turning thirty, though I have no idea if that song was written then or not.
1. Focus more on family. I feel that I do a pretty good job overall of spending time with my kids, but I could always do more. A little less tv watching and a few more piggyback rides will go a long way toward a closer bond.
2. Focus more on God. That bible on my shelf gets opened, but not nearly enough. I’m actually looking forward to starting a reading plan, more specifically, a comprehensive one that covers the entire scriptures.
3. Focus more on my health. A few years ago I had dropped about forty pounds and was feeling great. My self-esteem was higher and I could tie my shoes without getting winded! A visit to my doctor is in order, but even if that doesn’t happen soon, fewer late-night meals and soft drinks will surely help.
4. Focus more on writing. I recently moved all of my written works from my old laptop to my newer one. It’s actually quite exciting to see all my old friends in their new place and I’m looking forward to finishing some of those drafts.