November 4th, 2010

Words On Fire

A good fire is stunning. I’ve been known to burn leaves just to see flames lick the sky. In my opinion, there’s nothing finer than sitting around a campfire on a crisp evening, hearing conversations and laughter of family and friends. Or inside, when windows are iced, fireplace roaring, wood snapping and crackling. It warms bones and hearts chilled by a sometimes cold world.

Words to me are like fire. Pick the right ones, and our stories flame and mesmerize. They can illuminate a black night, or crack out the sun on an overcast day. We don’t need fancy selections. Put too many snooty words in, and all we’ve got is one stuck-up story. But I still believe a story told with added flare warms us.

We could say, “ As I was driving, leaves blew from the trees.” Or we could say, “As I was driving, wind high, every tree seemed to shiver, their raggedy foliage blowing away, leaving them naked in fields.” Can you picture that? It was my visual today.

Not every sentence in a story needs to be that descriptive, but throw one in occasionally and it’s like tossing a handful of dry pine needles into a dead fire.



If we extend our vocabulary, choosing words that breathe, we can make a story live. And still grasp our hearts when, we, the reader, are long finished.

Once, I walked past a campsite at dusk and spotted a man, stretched back in his recliner. I loved the visual so much I used it in Jack Rabbit Moon. Here’s what I came up with. “Under a shady oak tree, a man sat in a green recliner. I thought he was the epitome of intelligence, bringing his chair like that. Without moving, he could have the moon for dinner and stars for dessert.”

That chair, and a man I didn’t know from Adam, will long live in my memory. In my opinion, he was one smart dude.

Words are everywhere. To write well, we only need to pick them up, over and over, and spin them into flame. Besides reading many fine books, by some outstanding authors, I sometimes study the Dictionary and Thesaurus. I’m not lame or boring, just a woman who has a thing for words. And a hot fire.

Happy writing!

8 Responses to “Words On Fire”

  1. Deanna Schrayer Says:

    After I got over the image of words burning – EEK! I enjoyed this very much Drain. I remember that passage in Jack Rabbit Moon, I remember reading it several times just for the fun of it.
    And I remember, when I first started writing fiction, you telling me to work on description. When I look back at the stories I wrote then I’m amazed that my description has become so much better (I hope anyway) – that’s all thanks to you.
    Yesterday I decided to veer away from the novel and toy with a writing exercise. I just chose one at random and it was all about description – write an opening paragraph describing the scene without using the sense of sight. I’m quite pleased with what I wrote and may use it somewhere later.

    Gosh, I didn’t mean to write a comment longer than your post! I’m just like you in these words – I love a good fire and crackling words. Thank you for a wonderful post Drain!

  2. dorraine Says:

    So glad to hear you’ve embraced using description. I just know it fits you well, Deanna. I’m happy to have played a small part in the encouragement department. Many times that’s all a person needs.

    Interesting writing project, too. I’ll have to try that sometime. Keep those words crackling, my dear. :-)

  3. Elizabeth Says:

    You are one of my favorite writers. I love the way you spin words. And your descriptions… leave me speechless. You don’t post often, but when you do it’s always worth the wait.

  4. Dorraine Says:

    Thanks, sweetie! You made my day. :-)

  5. Paige Says:

    nice post and put so well.

  6. Dorraine Says:

    Thanks, my dear Paige! :-)

  7. Anita Says:

    I think I need to put Jack Rabbit Moon on my list of books to read! I’ll admit, I already have a stack, but sometimes the stack is rearranged. :)
    I’ll be sure to let you know if and when I can.

  8. Dorraine Says:

    Well get crackin’, Anita! Pretty sure the book would be right up your alley. :-)

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Eleven-year-old Marnie Evans longs to be precious. She wishes on stars for parents who adore her, even though her family is dysfunctional. She also believes that jack rabbits and a boot-wearing Texas angel show her mysterious signs of things to come. Continue Reading

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