Kicking off a new month with a new theme and a new author. Please welcome Penny Frost McGinnis, a who published her first novel with Mt. Zion Ridge Press this year. My theme this month is nature, and Penny gets us rolling with this lovely article about including God’s nature in our writing.
“To the attentive eye, each season of the year has its own beauty, and in the same field, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which will never be seen again.”Ralph Waldo Emerson
Growing up, I spent my time wandering through the woods and fields that surrounded our home. In the pond, I discovered frogs who plopped in the water, dragonflies which glided like kites, and red-winged blackbirds who hid among the cattails. We snatched heads of clover and sucked the sweetness from the tiny blooms and rolled down hills of grass. In the woods, I found toadstools and jack-in-the-pulpit. To me, nature came to life, as if another character inhabited the world I lived in.
As I grew older and learned more about God’s glorious creation, I embraced nature as a way to honor the Lord. When my husband and I visit Lake Erie, I like nothing better than to sit on a rock and hear the waves lap the shore. The mountains of South Carolina take my breath away, when the fog rises and reveals a sunrise displayed in yellow, red, and pink. Standing on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean as the chilled water washes over my feet reminds me of the power and beauty God has gifted us.
Because I experience deep joy when I commune with the natural world, I believe it’s essential to include the beauty God created in my writing. In my devotions, I often focus on one aspect, such as a flower garden and the process of growing from seed to bloom to emulate the growth in the Christian life. When I write fiction, I often set the scene with sights, sounds, smells, the taste, or touch of an element of nature.
In my work-in-progress, the main character, Marigold, owns a kayak business, so many of the scenes are set on the beach. Rather than give a lengthy description, I sprinkle nature throughout the chapters. For instance: “The scent of spring rain refreshed the air. Most days, she loved when the skies opened and doused her flowers, but today she prayed the sun shined through the clouds so vacationers would paddle in Lake Erie on the sturdy plastic boats.” And “The trees along the campground waved, as the wind whipped. Waves rolled in to the shore, higher each time. ‘The way the water is acting tells me a storm is brewing. Did you see the red sky this morning?’”
I enjoy reading books set on the east coast or in the Appalachian Mountains where the writer immerses the reader into the natural setting by description and through dialogue. As I write a scene, I picture where my character is, then I discover how I can add nature through the five senses. The character may smell the damp ground in the forest or the rose in the garden. They might taste the tomato they plucked from the vine, or hear the rushing water in the river. They might roll a snowball, rub their hand over the bark of a tree, or capture a handful of sand and let it flow from their fingers. Sight is the most used sense in writing, when the character witnesses a glorious sunset or hikes in the woods and discovers a baby barred owl on the ground.
Readers of book one of the Abbott Island series, Home Where She Belongs, said: The details and descriptions made me feel like I was on the island. Use nature to immerse the reader in the setting by sprinkling description throughout the narrative and dialogue, and weave in all five senses so the reader experiences the nature in each scene.
For more post on writing about nature, click here.
Tired of being a pawn for her father and an emotional punching bag for her ex-boyfriend, Sadie Stewart escapes to Abbott Island where she spent summers with her grandparents. Would the love and faith she learned from them be enough to fuel her new life? She wants to believe God’s promises, yet broken trust holds her back.
Joel Grayson left the island long enough to train at the Police Academy. The community trusts him, even though he’s failed. When he finds Sadie at her grandparents’ cottages, his heart skips a beat. He’d love to get to know her again, but no one needs to share the hurt he harbors.
When Sadie discovers someone is sabotaging her future, she seeks Joel’s help. As they are drawn together, will Joel let down his guard and let her in? Will Sadie trust the man who loves her and the Father Who cares?
If Penny Frost McGinnis could live in a lighthouse or on an island, she would. Instead, she and her husband are content to live in southwest Ohio and visit Lake Erie every chance they get. She adores her family and dog, indulges in dark chocolate, enjoys creating fiber arts, and grows flowers and herbs in her tiny garden. She pens romance with a dash of mystery and the promise of hope. Her life’s goal is to encourage and uplift through her writing. Connect with her on website/blog, FB author page, Twitter, Pinterest, and Bookbub.
Thank you so much for your thoughtful article. The sprinkle method is usually the best way to work in description.
Good tips, and good quotes.
I like reading books that give descriptions of the Appalachia too. It’s in my bucket list for places I’d like to visit one day.
That’s where my family loves to go for vacations! It’s also home to me because both sides of my family come from West Virginia, which is set entirely within Appalachia.
A lot of Nora Roberts include some descriptions of the place. They sound lovely.