Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The first draft is the skeleton...

" --just bare bones. It's like the very first rehearsal of a play, where the director moves the actors around mechanically to get a feel of the action. Characters talk without expression. In the second draft, I know where my characters are going, just as the director knows where his actors will move on the stage. But it's still rough and a little painful to read. By the third draft, the whole thing is taking shape. I have enough glimmers from the second draft to know exactly what I want to say. There may be two or three more drafts after the third to polish it up. But the third is the one where it all comes together for me."
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor author of Shiloh.

I’m working on a scene that’s held me up. On my YA novel, my main character, Diane is being enrolled in school. She’s in the front office. But the scene is missing something. I have the bare bones- Diane, her foster mother, the dean, and a really cute burn out. But it doesn’t shine. It lacks some muscle.

Bones are the structure. The body’s support, but our muscles make us move. For a story those muscles are the description.
If you’re anything like me, you might be description disabled. I have the hardest time translating the setting that I see so clearly in my head to the page. Well have no fear the Bookshelf Muse is here. This is a wonderful site that has soooo much help for description. Take a peek and explore. Tell me what you think.

This week our assignment is to find a scene, passage, paragraph that can be strengthened by adding or deepening descriptions. Then post it here so we can look at it. Do a before and an after.


  1. Thanks for the link to The Bookshelf Muse, Chelle. I just love the thesauruses (thesauri?)

    Description disabled... yeah. You and me both.


  2. I'm glad it's useful! They even have help to describe settings. Thansk for dropping by.