Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday's Photolife--A line

When you first look at the picture below, think about what your eyes do. Mine follow the line of rocks from left to right every time. They make a pathway through the picture, and our eyes are drawn to it. We circle back around and look at the whole, but the first reaction is to follow the line.
The lines can curve
or be straight.
They can go from bottom to top
or top to bottom.
It doesn't matter. Our eyes will follow them,
even if they lead no where in particular.
Think about it when taking pictures. Add in an element that will lead the eye where you want it to go. Handrails and fences are great for that, but any line can do the job. Notice the railing on the bus in the picture below. It leads the eye up the street, so do the lines on the pavement, so does the line of cars (even their direction), so do the walls of the buildings (especially the horizontal lines like on the Home Depot). Don't your eyes want to go right up the street?
Application to writing? Learn the tricks of writing that can help you lead the reader's attention where you want him to focus. Personally, I'm still learning those. What are some of the tricks you use? Do you like to use them for misdirection?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wednesday's Wonders--Pine Nuts

They're pretty trendy these days: tossed in a salad or ground into pesto, but I remember a time when I didn't even know they existed.

As a kid I felt like I knew a lot about pine trees. Our house was surrounded by them and I could shinny up the bare trunk to the branches that started about 12 feet up. I was intimate with the pine cones. I decorated them, ripped them apart, used them for weapons. Life was cool with a pine tree. Who knew I was missing one of the best parts of the tree. Okay, so the pine nuts on the kind of trees we had around my house were too small to amount to much.

It was actually France that introduced me to these precious little nuggets of deliciousness. When I lived over there, a French friend cracked open one of the pine cones she'd gathered, and handed me a small creamy seed. "Eat it." I thought it was crazy, but I ate it anyway. Wow. Sold.
by fieelgh on deviantART

How many of you are fans of the pine nut? Have you ever searched for them in your own yard? Here's a great article about how to forage for them even in the US. Part of it is that you have to find the right kinds of pines.

Pine nuts were a revelation to me when I was a young college student, and I still eat them in wonder.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday's Photolife--Not using the whole

I love taking pictures of portions of objects.
Sometimes, less says more.
Would this picture of a girl receiving a facial say more if I showed her whole head? You got that she was hungry, right?
I think we love to fill in what's not there.
That's part of why not using an entire subject is often pleasing in photography. The viewer's mind is not taken for granted.

Application to writing? We don't have to include every detail for the reader to get a scene. If we paint the portion we show well, the reader will see it all and be glad the writer didn't show more than the essential. (This is something I'm working on. I tend to think I have to say everything. I'm going back right now in WIP 1 and eliminating the things that don't need to be said. I can wear a reader out with minutiae. Hopefully, I'll be able to make the right choices.)

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wednesday's Wonders--Honest Critiques

Monday, I told y'all a little about the critique I just got back. It has opened my eyes to some serious flaws in my writing. Now I know, and, in knowing about them, I can fix them. I have my work cut out for me, but I can do it. *crosses fingers that I really can* It's just going to take time.

I love it when I learn new stuff, and I learned so much with this critique.

An honest critique is a precious gift to those that we read for. Right now I'm critiquing two friends' MSS, and I remind myself often not to pull punches just to be nice. If something strikes me as awkward, I need to tell them so. I can do it in a respectful way, but I still need to do it. Sparing their feelings will not help them at all, and I want to help them make their MSS better. That's the whole point of critiquing. By the same token, when they critique for me, I know they want to help me make mine better.

So, while I'd love to hear that I'm the most brilliant writer they've ever read, I so know, if they say that, they're totally lying. My mother is the only one who can get away with that (and only because she's prejudice).

To all you honest critters out there: KUDOS! You are a wonder. It's not always easy to tell a friend they are doing something wrong.

Disclaimer: This in no way reflects on the 2 books I'm currently reading. I'm thinking about it so much because of the crit I just received. =)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday's Montage: Home again, home again

After my trip to Phoenix, AZ (Those who guessed Phoenix get a gold star, and if you said Scottsdale, you were practically right, because we were so close to it, we were almost in it.), I took the kids to my parents' for spring break. It was nice to visit with them and catch up. The kids had fun with their cousins who live nearby, and it was an all around nice week. I even recorded my parents telling stories about their life. There was some stuff in there I'd never heard before. So cool.

Now I'm home again and trying to get back into my normal groove. *sigh*

I just got a completely honest critique of my book back from someone who has some serious experience in the industry, and I, apparently, have a lot I need to do to fix things, if I ever want to publish. Soooo. Back to work. Ugh! I hate to step away from the new story I'm working on. It's so cool, but I need to give the first one another go around--plot work and cut/polish. I've still got a long way to go to be the writer I want to be. *sigh again* At least I have a map of the things I need to work on.