26 October 2012


Have you ever been reading along only to have your memory sparked by a description that uses one or more of the five senses?  If it's a pleasant memory, it's a bonus that adds to your reading experience.

Describing to your reader what the scene looks like is important, but think how real it can be if you include the other senses of sound, smell, taste and touch.

Give some thought to the setting your character is in.  Perhaps he’s walking along the beach.  What might he see, hear, smell, taste and touch in that setting?

He becomes mesmerised by the sea, its choppy, uneven swell crashing onto shore before it's dragged back.

He walks against the howling wind, its force whipping the sand into his face and he winces.

The salt air leaves a bitter taste in his mouth as he walks along.

The seagulls huddle together on the sand, their attempts at flight marred by the wind.

Wondering closer to the water’s edge, he shivers as his feet become submerged in the swirling froth.

Oh, but I forgot - Smell!

If you’re on a beach in the South Pacific, it could be the fragrance of hibiscus or frangipani.

13 October 2012


Here on To Paint a Picture with Words, we’ve covered Character, Structure, Plot, Theme and Settings.  Today, we’re going to look at another important element for your story which is  Conflict.

Why is conflict important?
Because without it, your story will be flat and won’t hold your reader’s interest for long.

There are two types of conflict.  Inner conflict and external conflict.
Inner conflict is your character’s personal struggle.  This can be many thing such as, self doubt, guilt, grief, or a dilemma facing your character.  For example, in the Fitzjohn Mystery Series, Detective Chief Inspector Fitzjohn deals with grief when his beloved wife Edith dies.  His job becomes his lifeline, but it’s under threat by his nemisis, Superintendent Grieg, who would like nothing better than to destroy Fitzjohn’s reputation and career.

External conflict is created by something your character needs or wants to resolve, but there are obstacles that have to be overcome.  Not only does your character have to deal with his/her inner conflict but also the external struggle.  For example, in The Celtic Dagger, James Wearing finds himself a prime suspect in his brother’s murder and feels the need to clear himself of suspicion.  That conflict compels James to act and pushes the story forward.

What effect will these conflicts have on your character and story?
In dramatising your character’s inner struggles, he/she will come to life on the page enabling your reader to care.  The same can be said with your character’s external struggle.  As he/she tries and fails, and tries again to reach the goal, your reader will be filled with anticipation, sitting on the edge of his or her seat until the very last page.  At least that is what we hope!