Jose had to keep walking. However, he needed another minute to rest. He wiped his brow with his soaked, red handkerchief and looked up at the blazing sun.
Shaking his head, he put his hat on and began to trudge forward.
He had been walking for hours. Soon, the day would begin its descent into darkness. Yet, his throbbing feet kept moving. Crows circled above, waiting for him to die. He tried to ignore them while his own stomach growled.
He had to get to Valencia. His muscles waged war against his will, but Jose still moved toward Valencia, his hope and strength.
Gertie awakened into a world familiar and bleak. Her faded wallpaper and antiquated bed brought no cheer to her mornings. She put her feet on the faded carpet and met the day.
Walking down the hall to the bathroom, her younger brother threw a toy at her, hitting her in the side. She yelped and threw it back. She passed her parent’s room and saw her Mom sitting on the bed, digging in her sewing box.
The preacher uses words to deliver the message of the gospel. They are the brush he wields to paint the vibrant colors of heaven, the vivid reds of the cross and the victories of salvation.
I wonder, though, how many preachers make the connection between their commission and the mastery of language. A novelist lives and dies by the power of words in order to produce more compelling prose.
While preachers and writers differ in their medium, they should share the same vision of changing the world around them.
I did extensive editing on an older article and this excerpt is designed to illustrate visual writing. We need to write so that our readers can see what is happening in their mind’s eye. They can imagine themselves in the action as they would in a theater watching a movie or a play. Readers identify with this style of writing and that will keep them reading.
A loved one dies and our world crumbles. We are certain we will never endure the horrors, so we vainly grope for hope and solace. Light fades to darkness and the familiar becomes foreign. The colors of the world, once solid and sure, become dull and uncertain. We cannot find anything reliable to hold in our hands.
The day of visitation arrives. Tearfully, our loved ones line up to offer condolences. Their words are a jumble and their gestures numbing. Our dazed mind struggles to focus.
Family members gather around us as tears briefly turn to laughter at joyous reunions and happy memories. Momentarily, we feel sane again.
The funeral arrives, cloaked in solemn black, and part of our heart enters the earth. Afterward, we stagger home, numb and less than whole. The world is off its axis.
Time becomes a blur as we mechanically face the kind words, tears, food and hugs of strangers. We hover between reality and unreality, never sure where to put our feet.
We feel lost. Yet, the day crawls forward and the fitful night arrives. Against our will, the morning blossoms anew. Days and nights follow and we feel guilty for existing. Yet, gravity moves us forward. We face new days and challenges filled with moments of sadness.
Appointments and responsibilities call for our attention. The inevitability of time helps us heal. Without it, grief would swallow us whole. Time heals because it saves.
We assemble our mementoes as our shrine to reflect upon as we continue our existence. Eventually, we find new patterns in our lives and days begin to flow as the sun rises and falls.
Even though we feel less than whole, the new reality faces us in the mirror every day and we turn and put one foot before the other and keep living.
Do you see what is being described? Can you identify if you have endured such a heartbreaking loss?
What input do you have about visual writing? Is it challenging for you? How does it benefit our writing?
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
If we want to write a novel, we can go about it in one of two ways. We can plan out our plot in advance or we can just write and see where it goes. There are successful authors who subscribe to both ideas.
In the novel I am writing, I was trying the second path and I thought things were going smoothly.
As Weiland points out, outlining does not have to be an elaborate production with layers of points. The goal is to improve our writing, not impress a teacher.
As I read Weiland’s book, I realized that my novel needed serious help. I began looking back and found incongruities that needed correcting. As a result, my work in progress became a better story.
As I began editing, I developed a simple plan to keep track of each chapter. I want to share it with you. Do the following for every chapter and your novel will be smoother and will prevent a lot of heartache in the end.
We must create real, authentic characters that absorb our readers. Will our readers find our characters believable? Will the readers identify with them? Will they seem them as being too flawed or too perfect?
The following articles provide some important lessons as we strive to create characters that will stay with our readers long after they have finished reading.
From time to time, I plan to post Character Studies to help us develop our writing skills and character development. Look at the photo and tell us about the person. What can we tell about her? What is her name? Age? Where does she live? What is she thinking? What else can you tell? The more we know about our characters, the better we will be.
I was asked to lead a Writers’ Group at the public library in Hinesville, Georgia. I appreciate very much being allowed to serve in this capacity to help people become better writers. We had a dozen people attend and we had a great time together. Most were happy to have such a group available.
Every month I want to summarize our discussions, so group members can refer to these pages and new members can catch up.
We want to learn together and encourage each person to rise to their potential.
If you would not be forgotten
as soon as you are dead and rotten
either write things worth reading
or do things worth the writing.
- Ben Franklin
We will not be a successful writer unless we take the craft very seriously and are willing to work to accomplish our goals.
Questions for the group:
We talked about our love for writing and why we feel driven to keep putting words on paper.
“Real writers are those who want to write, need to write, have to write” (Robert Penn Warren).
“Planning to write is not writing. Outlining, researching, talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing” (E. L. Doctorow).
Writers must be courageous enough to dig deep within themselves for good material.
Work to grow every time you write. Never settle for mediocrity.
Become a relentless editor, willing to cut anything to produce quality writing. If there is some passage or sentence that needs to go and we can’t part with it, write it down and use it elsewhere.