I am giving away up to 5 copies of The Mage Destinies AUDIOBOOK downloads Friday, July 31, 2020. Go to my facebook page at Brett Galen for details! Hurry. This will not last very long.
Page 2 of 7
Exhausted, Patrick climbed into the back of his father’s car. The trip from Newark had been cramped and noisy, he looked forward to the peace and quiet of the long drive home. Six hours later they arrived. The end.
I know. That was terrible, wasn’t it? I have written a few short stories, some short reads of about 10k words, and the beginning of my series – about 65K words. When it comes to knowing what to describe the real question has always been “How much is enough?”
Answer this honestly, have you read a book that sounded like this: “Sweat began to form on his pale brow, the anticipation of stepping back in front of the same self-absorbed, narcissistic students that callously drove him to the breaking point caused his heart to crawl painfully into his throat as he turned the aged brass doorknob slightly to the right until its deafening click resounded throughout the classroom all but guaranteeing their dull, hateful eyes would be on him as he entered.”
Yeah, me too. I hate books like that. I love that the description puts you right into the character’s frame of mind, but it almost sounds like the author was given a 500 word essay and chose to do it in one sentence. Conversely, we would do the character a huge disservice if we simply said, “He nervously opened the door.”
So How Much Is Enough?
The easiest answer I can give is “Never let your descriptions get in the way of your story, but never let your lack of description prevent the telling of your story.” You must find a balance that helps the reader get lost in the sensations of your characters. For example, walking into a classroom, what needs to be described immediately? The smell of dry erase markers? The light shining through the windows at an uncomfortable angle? The hushed breathing of the students? The racing pulse of the teacher? Let the reader feel the scene, but only if it’s important. Let me give you two examples.
Example One: Teacher walking into her new classroom for the first time. “She opened the door and was greeted by an empty classroom. Her empty classroom. The desks were all pushed against the wall. The dry erase board was dirty, still marked from the end of last school year. Any other teacher would balk at a room in this condition, but she only saw opportunity. She twirled like a young girl, giddy at the raw euphoria she could barely contain. ‘Time to get to work,’ she said as she rolled up her sleeves.”
Example Two: Teacher walking through the teacher’s lounge on his way to his private locker. “He opened the door to the teacher’s lounge and swiftly began weaving between the haphazard chair placement as he made his way to his locker, ignoring the smell of the freshly-brewed coffee.”
In the first example, we want more description and emotion because it is important to the character. But, in the second, we don’t need to talk about the newspapers left on the tables, or the old coffee cups in the sink. It’s enough to show that he passed through it because it wasn’t important to the character at the time.
I have been accused of not giving enough description to my stories and I am guilty as charged. I am working on it, here and there. Just as you should be.
So, when you tell your story, make certain that your story shines through. Use your descriptions as tools to get your story where it should be. And, as always, Scribe On!
Lately, I have had great difficulty writing. I came down with a severe case of The Moods.
During the summer, work always increases along with frustration and mental exhaustion. Where many people recharge during the summer days, I don’t. Lately, I’ve found myself staring at my screen reading and re-reading words that I wrote months ago, then leaving them with no additions or improvements.
My reasons are both real and valid. The TV was too loud. My coffee just didn’t taste right. People were talking. The house was too quiet. The cats made a mess. See? All very real and valid reasons not to write.
Truthfully, I haven’t written because…well, I stopped caring about my stories. I have gone through a whole “should I or shouldn’t I write” phase. I’ve looked at my dismal sales numbers. I’ve looked at my reviews. I’ve not been inspired to add even one more thing to my stories. So I stopped.
Instead, I attempted to nourish my soul by trying to learn ASL (American Sign Language) using Dr. Bill Vicars’s ASLU online videos. I have no idea what I am doing, but learning to communicate with people who have no one to communicate with, is inspiring.
I am currently on the way out of The Moods. I am re-examining Desiree’s Chance, The Stranded, Cafe of Dreams, and the Mage Destinies: Plight of the Eidolon. I promise that by Year’s End at least two of these will be finished and out for you.
But until then, banish The Moods, and Scribe On!
I got my first really bad review this week. Yep. It finally happened. Now I know that I am a real author, I have a hater!
Of course, I am playing this off a little, but I thought it was a great opportunity to explain how I see reviews.
Many people like things but never leave a review. They never explain how they feel about potato chips, colas, comforters, etc. on the product page. If they like it, they tell their friends.
Reviews are for people who have a very emotional connection or reaction to the product that they feel needs to be heard by more people. This can go very well or very badly. But knowing that you’ve made a strong emotional connection to a reader is something writers long for, good or bad, because it allows writers to experience feedback. Real, honest, feedback.
I am not happy with my review, don’t get me wrong. I want to explain, correct, and rebut a few things, but I won’t. Not here. Not anywhere. Why? Because regardless of the content of the review, it is still a connection to a reader. Not a good one, but a real one. And in my world of make believe characters and plots, it’s what I value most.
Today marks the anniversary of Sally Ride’s launch into space. Think about it, strapping yourself into a tiny capsule and sitting on a controlled explosion and escaping the atmosphere to float effortlessly in space.
I know we all wish we could escape the hardships of our world and have nothing weighing us down. But Sally didn’t just hitch a ride into outer space to float. She left the earth to continue her work as a physicist. In particular, she operated the robotic arm, releasing satellites into specialized orbits.
The truth is everyone has things going on in their lives that weigh them down. And from others’ perspectives, maybe things seem a little better – the grass always seems greener on the other side. But, we’ve all got a job to do. We’ve all got people counting on us. We can’t just float around, there are kids we need to teach. There are parents we need to assist. There are neighbors we need to help.
It’s okay to reach for the stars, as long as you remember that there’s still work to do.
I’m sorry, I know it’s been a while. I have recently fallen in love, with writing short-reads. After Verity’s Sunset’s incredible responses, I have a few more short romances up my sleeves, perfect for an afternoon or a relaxing vacation or a mid-day getaway. I have two more babies, “Desiree’s Chance” and “Café of Dreams.” Soooo, keep your eyes peeled for the new stuff.
Following the incredible response I’ve received from Verity’s Sunset, I thought you might like to know what’s next…
Lately, I have been trying my hand at different genres. I still have projects in the works, (my mind looks like a junkyard with all my projects). Just to let you know what I am working on.
Endless Summer Romance – I have a story I am playing around with called Desiree’s Chance. It’s about two co-workers and a new dating app. Too much to say here. I expect I’ll have it out in about a month.
The Mage Destinies 2 – Boy did I step into it here. How do you follow up such a successful story, by telling Petunia’s story of identity exploration. And what is Bradley up to…..?
The Stranded – A story that I started and trashed then started then trashed and now it doesn’t look anything like it did when I started, um, the first time. Futuristic thriller, a new attempt for me, which means I need to work on a new writing style.
Mysteries of the Dark 3 – A collection of Twilight Zone type short stories that are entertaining and perplexing.
And my personal project, one that is dear to my heart – Applesauce. (Shhhhh!!!!! Don’t tell them about that one!) Oh, um, just ignore that last one. (hee, hee)
I hope you will join me for the ride. It may take a bit to get some of these to market, but I hope you will enjoy them.
Thank you all for your support.
Today is May 1st officially ending the March Into May Writing Challenge. Congratulations on your efforts and progress!
BUT, don’t think that this is really over. No, you keep going! Keep writing. Keep creating. Express those thoughts in your journal, finish that love story, comment on today’s current state, write those word pictures.
These are the projects that have been birthed from the Challenge:
Sweet Insanity by J. Leigh James
Oblivion’s Kiss by Brett Galen
Verity’s Sunset by Brett Galen
Next year let’s aim for more. But for now…..
A NEW CHALLENGE to be listed soon…..
The one complaint that we writers all share is that no one gives us feedback. Well, shout out to John C for sending me a detailed message with some very good critique and helpful advice! John, glad to have helpful words of encouragement.
Just for that, I am making Verity’s Sunset AND Oblivion’s Kiss available for FREE on Friday the 24th!
This March Into May Writing Challenge has been amazing! Not only was I able to bring out Oblivion’s Kiss, but I also ran another short story, Verity’s Sunset – a romance about a high school photographer who meets a spunky, outspoken student and they begin a quest to find the perfect sunset together.
Just like Verity’s perfect sunset, the writing challenge is about to close. I will be sending badges to everyone who participated shortly. I hope your writing, journaling, poetry, word pictures, or however you chose to engage your talents and imagination, has been enriching and rewarding.
Until next time, Scribe On!