What is Not Spoken

Stories are said to have a beginning, a middle and an end, and they tend to have a main character and an adversary. This adversary (which can be another person, a natural phenomenon or personal hardships or challenges) must be overcome and the character must learn or gain something.

There are a number of genres that are very popular, which I suspect has to do with the security the writer promises the reader about the outcome.

Action stories, for example, tend to have a hero and the adversary tends to either be another human or a dangerous beast of some sort, and from the very start, no matter how many chase scenes and dangers, we know the hero will come out the winner. The narrative tends to follow the characters that are active and describe the moves they make and the words they say.

Likewise, romance, one of the most popular genres ever, provides that same sense of security to its readers. Romance stories always has a happy ending (otherwise it is a love story), and the narrative follows the feelings and observations, the expectations and disappointments of the main characters as they respond to each other. To start with, they tend to despise each other before they feel attracted and get together. Sometimes there is a third person involved, sometimes the adversary is their own prejudice, as in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but the reader does not have to worry about the outcome.

Mystery and detective stories also give the reader the security that the crime will be solved. The reader engages because of the puzzle or the tension, but, even if they do not know the exact details, they know the puzzle will be solved in the end, and many, myself included, read to think along and see if we got it right.

In hard science fiction, it tends to be about the technology and the descriptions of the futuristic or alien life, and although the reader does not know exactly what to expect, because the situation is new, the characters have to overcome either technological or environmental hardships, and they usually succeed.

Some other genres have similar securities, even horror and some fantasies and adventure.

In all those stories, even if the characters are well developed and realistic, which is not always the case, their focus tends to be on the one issue: the puzzle or crime, the danger or adventure, or the love interest. The conversation, the narrative and the actions focus on the scenes that move those parts of the story forward.

Drama, however, cannot promise the reader that all will end well for their characters; like real people, they do not always win or survive. Whether contemporary, science fiction or fantasy, the characters tend to face multiple adversaries, usually an important one in their own personality, and several in other people and events, often with conflicting demands. Problems between characters come from their different likes and dislikes, flaws and strengths, wishes and dreams.

They tend to have many facets, some of them negative, and more often than not, they do not say what they really mean or what bothers them, or they think something different than they say outwardly. More often than not, there is no one adversary and every character has a point, so there is never the security of one winner.

It is those complexities that allow the reader to feel for them, to love them or hate them, and different readers will feel akin to different characters.

The trick for the writer of this genre is to allow the reader these insights, to convey all those motivations and interactions that are going on under the surface, from subliminal messages to unspoken intent, without creating a bias toward one or the other.

For example, I have one character who, like many introverted people, have entire conversations in their head, and even if somebody asks them a question, they think more than they actually speak. In one scene, I have somebody ask her questions, using the all-important quotation marks that tell the reader this is a spoken sentence, but the reply comes without those marks. After a number of those, the questioning character gets upset because they feel ignored.

Similarly, I play with abstract words, because those are words that do not and cannot mean the same to all people, so they confuse each other, get angry or sad, when the other person never meant to convey the message that was received.

It is not always easy to decide how to write those scenes. The tense and point of view of the story help make these insights possible. Obviously, when writing from the point of view of an omniscient narrator, you can tell the reader what goes on in each person’s head, but without this narrator, a writer needs to decide which scenes go with which character (if there are more than one point of view character) and always keep in mind what each of them can or cannot know. Something that is not spoken or acted in public cannot be known by other characters.

I find that it makes less difference whether I write close third or first person, as long as I make sure that the reader is in only one head at the time. I use scene breaks or chapter breaks to change point of view character.

Although the present tense automatically gives a story more momentum, I find I can raise the tension by changing point of view more often, so that as many as possible angles on an important event are portrayed.

In movies it is possible to show the viewer multiple happenings at the same time, by zooming out and showing different characters acting simultaneously, but in a book, they need to be described, each in their own turn.

In short, it is the subliminal interactions and messages that I love to play with in my stories, because they not only keep things complex and rich, but they keep he reader in suspense, because you never know what will happen next. And hopefully, the reader might recognize in one of the characters somebody they know and get an insight in what could be playing.

That is the goal of my writing – writing for a positive future – to help people understand each other.

Thank you for reading.

How Some Publishers Discriminate Against Introverted Writers

Of course, I know that we live in a society that favours extraversion. That is simple psychology.

Despite introversion becoming more talked about and many people seeking groups that try to get equal respect for introverts, it remains the case that the vast majority of people do not even really know what those words mean – except for some vague references to outward behaviour, like talking a lot or going to parties. That misconception implies that it is a choice people make, or that it is learned behaviour, and, therefore, introverts should try and get over it.

That attitude is nothing new; schools have always berated introverts for being shy, for not speaking up in class, for not wanting to be in the sports team or drama club. Even if extraverts are more often told off for talking in class, teachers do not associate that with being flawed as a person as they do introversion.

Offices may have in the past been too focused on quiet work, and extraverts, no doubt, had trouble with that, but the recent fashion of open area offices, where people are expected to change desks every day to “be social”, and where brain storming sessions or meetings are the order of the day, is proving detrimental for introverts. They are forced to take many more sick days that they have, just to get over the poisonous atmosphere, never mind the decline in the quality or amount of work.

Then there are the countless recruiters who have joined the idea that a person who is not on Facebook must be antisocial and therefore not employable, without understanding that it is often exactly those who have been discriminated against or bullied who shy away from those networks, while bullies tend have huge amounts of ‘friends’.

But now, book publishers are joining the party, despite writing being very much an introverted activity. I am not saying that extraverts are not writers or cannot write, but they also have many other ways to tell their stories; just look at Twitter and You Tube.

Introverts often have no other way to express than to write. They made up the majority of writers in the past. Today, however, many publishers want evidence of followers on social media before offering somebody a book deal, or they force the writers to do their own marketing. This blatant misunderstanding of writers comes from an industry that claims to exist to support the art of writing.

Equally ignorant, writers of marketing advice endorse this practice by threatening writers that they will never get a deal if they do not follow the trend. They make it sound as if there are no decent publishers around at all anymore, but that is not quite true.

Although it is often exactly those publishers who shout “equal opportunity” on their websites, who judge the writers rather than concentrate on the contents of the stories, there are still some respectable publishers around (both for books and magazines), who read content before asking the writer for personal information. They often state this on their websites.

This practice was started to prevent discrimination for reasons of ethnicity and gender, but it can help introverted writers as well, and I would strongly advice all serious writers to seek out those publishers.

If a publisher won’t accept you until you have a certain number of social media followers, they are not in it for the writing, but for the money. They are hurting the writing community more than they help it and I would say, boycott them. We need equal opportunity for all people and we should finally stop judging books by their covers – whatever form that cover might take.

Thank you for reading.

You do not choose to become a writer; the writing chooses you.

The other day, I came across a person, who said she wanted to write a book, but had no idea where to start. On asking, it turned out that it wasn’t the case that she had an idea, bit did not quite know how to start her story, but she simply had no ideas for stories; she just wanted to be a writer, because other people were writers and it seemed a nice idea.

Now, this person was extreme, of course, yet there are countless people who pick creative writing courses at university, usually because they have no clue what else to do, and believe they can become writers that way.

Another recent notion I came across was people who believe that having an idea for a story makes them a writer, but they’d like to hire a ghost writer to write it for them. That would be the same as me having the idea that I would like my son’s portrait painted, but ask somebody else to do the painting, so I can call myself a painter, or that I would be a doctor, because I send somebody to the GP when I think they have a cold.

Having ideas is the simple part. One idea might turn into a story or book, but most natural born writers have so many ideas they cannot hope to ever turn them all into stories. Natural born writers don’t need to ask somebody to help them find something to write about; they have no choice but to write, just like natural composers get tunes in their head and they have to play them.

On a similar note, ghost writers can probably write, but as long as you have to trade on somebody else’s already famous name to make it, it is questionable whether it is the quality of the writing that did it. On the other hand, all writers need help getting noticed, regardless of the quality of writing. But very often a famous author gets old or dies and their books keep being published, usually with a significant quality drop or else with a different style. However, because ghostwriters do not have to do any world or character building, which is one of the most important things of fiction writing, it is more like being a fan fiction writer, because with as the only difference that you have permission of the original author, usually for financial motivations.

Of course, not everybody who has ideas needs to be a writer, either. There are plenty of people with fantastic stories to tell, who do this better in film or as story tellers of another kind. In other cultures and other times, the latter were more accepted.

And, of course, you can be a non-fiction writer, which many people can do about their own topic of interest, although the research and follow through also requires a lot of commitment.

What I am saying is this: Most people accept that being a painter or musician is a talent people are born with, even if others can also learn the basics. So it is with writing, and with all non-artistic jobs as well, because each person has certain natural inclinations they are born with and which help them notice things (like ideas for stories), but writing is more than just having the idea; it is creating the setting, the characters and the plot and letting the characters lead you in telling the story. It is hours and hours of editing and rewriting, and it is something you become totally immersed in and cannot do quickly on the side.

Today, everybody can create a book, but most are just repeating what has been done a million times; everybody can record music, and I am sure natural born musicians have the same issue with the invasion of their skill set by this ease of access. But creating a book is not being a writer unless you actually created the story as well.

What I am saying, is that you do not choose to be a writer (or painter or musician), but it chooses you. You have no choice; you probably did it since you were young, even as a hobby, and it won’t stop, even if you try to. It comes naturally; you don’t have to ask others for ideas – but only for technical advice – and you don’t become a writer because it is popular, but because you already are a writer, a story-teller, from the moment you were born.

Thank you for reading.

No Space for Science Fiction

Not every story set in space is science fiction and science fiction does not need to be set in the future.

Genres of writing have changed over time, and currently “science fiction” tends to be grouped with “fantasy” and “cosmic horror” under the heading “speculative fiction”.

Of course, fiction tends to be speculation and it speculates a reality that never was or might never be, but which the writer (and reader) will accept as possible, at least for the duration of the book.

The term “suspension of disbelief” is very accurate for the science fiction genre, especially, because the word “science” is heavily laden with the expectation of fact and truth. Of course, every scientist knows that what is true today might be proven wrong in the future, so they, too, suspend disbelief when speculating, but theirs is not called science fiction, because they posit their scenarios as possible facts without the addition of fictitious people (characters).

Some science fiction stories, just like non-fiction books, get outdated, for example when their novel inventions are no longer novel speculations. When Star Trek was launched, their communication devices were totally alien to us, and yet, today, everybody walks around with a cell phone that can do more than the machines of the Enterprise crew.

Yet Star Trek did not get less popular, exactly because their stories deal with the human interaction with these technologies and the ethical relations between the races. Human stories do not get old.

I love science fiction, exactly because it allows me to invent a world that is totally fictitious, and yet based in an accepted understanding of our understanding of human psychology, so that my characters must ‘deal’ with a situation that is totally possible, and they must deal with it in a manner that real people could and would.

I love being able to immerse in such a totally different world, that is nonetheless very ‘real’.

Yet, despite science changing and definitions changing, and certainly our attitude to what genders are expected to do, when I mention that I write science fiction – which is not the only genre I write – the reactions I get are peculiarly outdated.

First of all, it is not uncommon for somebody to assume that I am male, unless I specifically point out that mine is social science fiction. Apparently, it is still not acceptable for women to deal with technology.

Secondly, the question most often asked is,  “When in the future is it set?” or “What planet is it on?”

The assumption is that science fiction must be set in space, and in the future, and generally the two are treated as self-evidently related.

Even in the minds of the younger generations, which (unlike mine) has grown up with space travel as an accepted technology, it seems that the ingrained idea from the sixties (the boom of science fiction) has taken a permanent hold.

That same assumption also underlies the idea that every story that is set in space must be science fiction, which is not true. Many stories set in space are simply that, an adventure story that could have been set anywhere, but they picked space; known as “space opera”, like soap opera – and I really don’t know why, because “opera” refers to a tragic (love) story set to music.

What makes a story science fiction, is that it is based in scientific facts and uses fiction to animate a scientific speculation, regardless of which science it is based in, so that the popular book of Jean Auel, Clan of the Cave Bear, for example, is in every sense a science fiction, because it was based on our scientific understanding of the relation between Homo Sapiens and the Neanderthals, for which the science was archaeology.

In other words, the belief that science fiction is about the future and that any story set in space is science fiction, is nonsense.

However, if you want to create an entirely new world, then your options are limited: You can create an “alternate Earth history”, you can set it in a futuristic world or in our own solar system (which automatically leads you to a future setting), or you can totally make up a place and time.

That last choice is what I did for my big science fiction novel (Of a Note in  a Cosmic Song), which is not set in the future, but in an era in the history of this fictitious planetary system. However, the possibilities and technologies of this planet are in line with our current scientific understanding of what is possible in geology, in space travel, in technology, in  ecology, and even in what constitutes a habitable planet, so that it qualifies as science fiction.

That I question some of those established scientific assumptions and give alternative possibilities later on in the book, is equivalent to a non-fiction scientist posing a new theory.

My science fiction story, which was published in 2010, is by no means out-dated, although some technological features already are. However, it was a people story; a story that shows how people might or might not survive the challenge of colonization of another planet; a story about how they would deal with each other and the challenges of making new rules: Would they make the same mistakes as those who came before them; those who ruled the planet they are wanting to leave? Is it possible for people to start over without regrets? Is it possible to create a totally different society, or will they always fall back on fighting and politics?

That story has a non-fiction partner, my philosophy book Homological Composition, which basically poses the exact same theories and speculations, but without the human aspect.

And now, almost ten years after I finished that enormous science fiction project (which took me about ten years to write), I am ready to start another science fiction. But this time, I will not set it in the future or in space. This time, I will create an entirely different fictional possibility, based in our current understanding of Earth science.

And I cannot wait to start.

Thank you for reading.

Retrospection and Diversity

The other day I was going through my old papers, diplomas and photos and I came across a series of assessments from when I just started training as a nurse. Those assessments came from the registered nurses in the hospitals I was an apprentice – my nurses education was then a new approach in that we did not sign on as students in a particular hospital, but with an independent school, from which we did practical experience in many places (general, psychiatric, community, paediatric and geriatric nursing and the care for the intellectually challenged). Most of my early assessments were not very good. The practicing nurses considered me not suited for the job, not practical enough, not outspoken enough, not outgoing enough and so on. They expected people like them, people they had always worked with. It took me four years to get through a 3-year nurses training and it is a wonder I did not quit.

In retrospect, this was the best school I could have gotten into, because until then I had never even considered that you could be a nurse for anything but general medical care, which was the area most of those negative assessments came from. During my training I learned that the care for those with mental and emotional problems suited me much better, even if, at that point, I did not yet understand why, because I had no knowledge of the psychological types.

Similarly, in general medicine, aspiring doctors do their training in many different fields, so that they might find the niche that suits them best. We all know that surgeons and dentists tend to be of a completely different personality type than internists and general practitioners. The former like the technical aspect and tend to be less capable of bedside manners, while the latter prefer the human interaction.

Likewise, in every field, there will be different niches that attract different types of people – although some fields, like mathematics, the hard sciences, but also childcare, tend to be populated by many of the same types of people.

And so for writers (and readers). We do not all like the same books and we do not all write the same genres and that is a good thing.

We all have a habit of judging by our own (often unconscious) standards, and talk about “a good book” or something “is realistic or fascinating”, but we don’t realize that such a statement reflects our personal perspective and cannot be objectively the same for everybody.

Of course, there are a few objective standards, like whether grammar and punctuation are used accurately and whether there is cohesion in the plot, but most of what we desire in a book and what we write ourselves depends on our personality, so that readers and writers have to match.

I am not saying that readers will only enjoy books written by people of their own personality type, but they have to be close enough to be open to their ideas. A writer brings in new viewpoints; sometimes, they bring in multiple viewpoints, expressed in different characters, but in any case, their job is to broaden the general perspective and to allow people to find out new things – whether they do that in non-fiction or in fiction.

We all accept or dismiss books based on what we already believe, but we all have our thinner boundaries, where we are willing to learn more. This is how information spreads through a population and this is what enriches our lives.

People are not all alike – they are not all unique either – but come in inborn types, which are like genres in books or styles of music. Our attraction to certain topics, certain genres of reading and writing is a direct result of our inborn personality types.

For example, those types who gravitate toward the hard sciences and mathematics tend to stick with non-fiction or speculative narratives in philosophy and science (like Walking with Dinosaurs), and if they write (science) fiction, they are often told that their concepts and settings are amazing, but their characters are stereotyped or ‘cardboard’.

Those people who gravitate toward the humanities and naturally empathize with people, jump into their shoes and therefore write much deeper and motivated characters, but their technical descriptions can be simple. Nevertheless, they, too, might speculate about the future, but their focus will be on future societies and how they function. Fiction, after all, is like a thought experiment that tries out human scenarios.

These speculative writers can therefore be ‘data-people’ or ‘people-people’. The other speculative genres, fantasy and horror, follow a similar divide, but they seem to attract more people-people, because it is our fears and wishes that are explored there.

But speculative people are not the only writers. Practically inclined people write and read practical literature about what is here and now, instead of what could be, and which can range from biographies, historical novels, animal and family stories and non-fictional guides for daily life to more academic science, history and technology, and adventure stories. In other words, practical people also can be subdivided in those who like people topics and those who prefer data and facts.

This makes for an immediate division into four totally different types of readers and writers, and within those, we could be more specific. However, the main message here is that we are all different and we all have to find our niche, in our chosen field as well as in reading and writing. That does not mean we should stick with what we feel comfortable with; it is okay to try new things, and nothing better than a book to try that with, because you can do it from the safety of your arm chair. We can learn from each other, exactly because we are not all alike.

In short, reviewers might dismiss books, assuming theirs is an objective viewpoint, which might influence potential readers, especially those who also believe there is an objective measure, and put them off reading something they might have really enjoyed.

Therefore, be aware that people come in different ‘genres’ as much as books do, and we do not all have to be alike.

If the nurses in the hospitals I apprenticed had been aware that people are okay to be different, I might have enjoyed my work there more, and so, if we all expect these natural differences, we might help today’s young people appreciate themselves earlier.

Diversity is a wonder of nature; not just physical diversity, but psychological diversity. That is why we have so many libraries and book shops.

Let’s celebrate our differences.

Thank you for reading.

DEEP AND COMPLEX EMOTIONS

I have lately written a number of blog posts about emotions, stressing that different personality types deal differently with emotions, attach a different importance to them, even consider different events or experiences as emotions.

We know that different genres of literature are preferred by different types for reasons of topic, focus and length. Poets, song writers and short story writers – are able to express big messages in few words, and, of course, some topics need more words than others. Others need many words to paint their world, and some readers prefer to immerse in a fictional world.

Action stories tend to be page turners, full of physical excitement, in which characters respond to their environment, with the events following in close succession, with little or no time for personal relationships or emotions. Motivations – the stuff that entices people to act – tend to be external and driven by a survival need.

Even more so than action stories, hard science fiction either avoids emotions altogether or it describes them as objects of knowledge. The characters might have romantic relations, but these tend to be stated rather than felt. Hard science fiction after all, is based in the hard or exact sciences and their objective is to describe the science or technology possible for the future. – As opposed to social science fiction, which is based in the social sciences or humanities.

The simple detective story, for example the books by Agatha Christie, feature characters that commit crimes motivated by either money or a romantic relationship (external objects). They tend to come to their drastic action without any of the emotional stages of doubt, guilt, remorse or conscience. Those on the side of the law – considering the setting is Britain in a time when the death penalty was common – show equally little concern for these emotions. They go by right or wrong, as if those are strictly objective, while true emotions are stereotyped or absent.

In contrast, Arthur Conan Doyle deals very well with emotions, especially those of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, which are true emotions. But although more logically complex, the plots are not socially or emotionally complex.

Lindsey Davies, in her historical detective series set in Ancient Rome, manages to include the complexities of Roman society, but also the personal relations of the main character with his different family members and his partner. The size of each of Davies’ individual books reflects that extra depth.

Romance stories, though usually focused on the external object, sometimes deal with very deep emotions, but those tend to be limited to a few characters and they are seldom complex, because the objective is a “happily ever after”.

There are plenty of stories that combine action, mystery or romance with relationships, in which motivations are more than just reactive, and that deal with emotions, but not all of those emotions are deep or complex.

Many family dramas are about relationships, especially the conflicts between partners, parents and kids, like teen rebellion or kids witnessing their parents, arguing, divorce or die. These involve true, very deep, but straightforward emotions. Usually, there is one motive or antagonist (whether in the form of another person or a disease or accident). Losing a parent (whether to divorce or death) is devastating and painful, but it is not necessarily complex; pain, loss, and possibly a sense of guilt, are direct emotions, relating to one person or event. And usually there is one solution that helps set things right, like talking to someone, being honest, grieving, and often a third party or new relationship. Such stories can be really powerful, because most readers can relate to the experiences, and because the feelings are easy to understand and sympathize with.

Other stories deal with complex or conflicted emotions, which are therefore generally deep as well. Complex emotions are not as easy for the reader to sympathize with, and neither are the characters, because the feelings are not straightforward, and they cannot be neatly placed in right or wrong boxes. Complex emotions tend to occur within a character, as well as between characters who may all experience inner conflict simultaneously, and there is often no solution. Complex emotions happen when a person’s conscience gets caught up between the rights and wrongs of others, their own unconscious or darker inner self and the consequences of their actions and emotions.

Those are the emotions I portray, because they reflect best what goes on in real people, even in those who suppress them. My stories don’t have “a bad guy”. I don’t need one, because ‘bad things’ happen when good people get hurt. Emotional hurt is capable of turning the sweetest and most giving person into one who contemplates murder or revenge, and the only thing that stops most of us from acting on such feelings, is our inner conscience, which is itself a complex of personal experiences and inborn personality. And exactly because those personalities are all different, can we not understand each other’s motivations and emotions, which causes us to respond judgmental to the other person, which brings about the next problem.

To me there is nothing more fascinating than the interactions of all those different complexes within all the different people and how they respond to each other. In other words, I try to be true to life with all its messiness.

 Of a Note in a Cosmic Song, being my biggest novel, involves at least eight point of view characters and a large cast of others, all interacting at different levels, and each regarding the others through their own sense of right and wrong. This evolves over a period of eight years, while on a journey to colonize another planet and start a better society.

The Happiness Inquisition is a novella, so the build-up is shorter, but the five involved characters and their relationships all are driven by inner as well as outer conflict.

In the Real World has two sixteen-year-old characters dealing with the emotions of war, even if the story is set in modern-day Australia, which is not a country at war at all. But because all conflicts are based on similar motivations, the situation at school (and home)  is a recreation of what war is like. The same emotions are involved, even if the actions are on a smaller scale.

Soup and Bread has an eleven-year old point of view character, who gets torn between choosing to help a victim of bullying or acting on her fear and look the other way. Through her eyes, the complex emotions of parents, teachers and other kids, is shown in response to the much more serious consequences of such behaviour, as well as physical and mental illness.  It is, therefore, not just a book for young adults.

Lohland is my only book that probably does not qualify. This story, being my first, involves a much more straightforward problem for the main character; a teenager, who, in addition, is of a personality type that tends to suppress their emotions, so even if I, as the writer, am aware of his inner conflicts, he tends to rationalize them, and the story mostly focuses on environmental changes.

In short, my books are not page turners full of physical excitement, but a portrayal of complex social situations from the perspectives of different types of people to allow the reader experience their intentions, conflicts, misunderstandings and motivations. This takes time, which is why I naturally end up writing novels. The action of my stories is in the emotions, in the relationships, and in the conflicts and their (sometimes disastrous) consequences.

Since readers and writers must connect somehow, readers a who prefer to deal with interpersonal relations and emotions in a straightforward manner or not at all, are not usually interested in my stories. My perfect reader is a people-person. Someone who wants to witness what makes people angry, sad, self-conscious, fearful, and often all of those at the same time: complex emotions.

 

 

How Pinterest can help writers

As an INFP writer, I naturally jump into people’s emotions and psychology and am less inclined to be aware of the environment. That goes for real life as well as for my stories; I have to make a conscious effort to become aware of smells, scenes, decor, people’s clothing and how they look.

This reflects in my writing, because I forget to describe the way people look or the scenery for those readers who need that kinds of descriptions. I write first person past or present tense and am therefore looking at the world from inside the characters’ mind and not looking at them, with as a result that I know how they feel, what they think and everything else, but not what they look like.

For example, when I finished In the Real World I paid attention to what message the cover would send to readers and chose to portray a group of high school kids in their school uniforms (with the two point of view characters at the centre. One of them especially needed to come across as a bit of a rebel with a strong personality, so the illustrator and I agreed that red hair seemed the most telling of her spirit. It was only after somebody who read the book pointed out to me that it is her friend who has the red hair and not the main character, that I thought about it.

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I have since done countless observation exercises to help me set the scenes, but I still have much more trouble with descriptions than with emotions. Only now I have modern technology to help me – and if you are anything like me, it might help you too.

Sites like Pinterest (and others like it) are mostly focused on images and not on words. They are therefore great for visual artists, but less for writers. I do have a Pinterest board for each of my books with inspirational images, collected to give a feel of what is important for each story, and, of course, I display my book covers on them, but I always thought that was as far as my connection with visual art would go.

But for my latest stories, when I come to a part that needs a description, I simply type in the general idea into Pinterest and voila: countless ideas that I can mix and match to create a good visual image for the reader. I do the same with Google maps. If I need a location, I can travel virtually everywhere in the world and describe the streets and the houses.

Thank you, internet for having a way with images that can help me shape my words.

 

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