Search

JPC Allen Writes

Inspiration for Beginning Writers

Writing Tip — Favorite Stories: “A Scandal in Winter”

sherlock-holmessc-462957_1280Since I don’t like romance, I wasn’t sure what story I could find to fit this month’s theme of love and friendship. But then I recalled “A Scandal in Winter” by Gillian Linscott. It’s one of my favorite Christmas mysteries. I first found it in the anthology Holmes for the HolidaysIt’s also been collected in The Big Book of Christmas MysteriesSherlock Holmes and romance seem like polar opposites, but Ms. Linscott writes a very convincing romance, fitting perfectly in the Holmes canon. Maybe that’s why I like it so well. It’s a romance that makes sense.

In 1910, tween age Jessica is spending the Christmas season at a Swiss resort with her wealthy family. Her family stayed at the resort the previous year when another guest fell to his death. Jessica was the only witness. The official verdict declared the death an accident, but both guests and staff believe the victim’s wife has gotten away with murder.

Jessica and her sister Amanda notice two elderly men they nickname “Silver Stick” and “Square Bear”. They are the only two guests who are polite to the widow when she returns to the resort. Silver Stick questions Jessica about what she saw, and Jessica, who savors the attention, plays amateur detective. Why Sherlock Holmes is one the case gradually comes clear through Jessica’s observations.

Jessica’s voice is distinct. It was the first aspect of the story to hook me. She’s a privileged child, but she’s old enough and smart enough to question the privileges and conventions she’s been raised in. Ms. Linscott also has some wonderful descriptions. I picture Jessica’s mother perfectly — “Then Mother arrived, wafting clouds of scent and drama.” And the widow — “This year she was thin, cheekbones and collarbones above the black velvet bodice sharp enough to cut paper.”

In the end, Holmes proves his devotion to the widow in his own way. And his understanding of what’s most important to Jessica.

What romances have you read that surprised you, maybe providing fresh twists to the rules of the genre?

Writing Tip — Writing in Time: Valentine’s Day as Writing Inspiration

heartw-3089409_1280I don’t read romance. Can’t stand the genre. I’ve tried to read historical fiction with romance in it and romantic suspense, thinking the history or the mystery would compensate for the romance. It never works. The romance either bores me or seems so unrealistic that I can’t push through to the end.

So here are five non-traditional suggestions on how to use Valentine’s Day as writing inspiration.

Junior High Dance

In junior high, most boys are finally realizing that girls aren’t icky, but they aren’t sure what to do about this revelation. A dance on Valentine’s Day following several characters as they negotiate the unknown territory of romance presents many opportunities for both comedic and dramatic plots.

New Love/ Old Love

An elderly, married couple help an engaged or newlywed couple having troubles on Valentine’s Day. For the elderly couple to have more impact on the younger one, I think they shouldn’t be related to them. The couples can be neighbors. The two very different milestones in theses couples’ lives offer great contrast for storytelling.

Bittersweet Love

Write a story following a widower or widow experiencing his or her first Valentine’s Day since the death of the spouse.

Humorous Love

Write about a married couple trying to enjoy a romantic date night and being constantly frustrated with interruptions.

Bad Valentine’s Day

If you really want to stand Valentine’s Day on its head, have a couple break up on Valentine’s Day. That sounds so sad, I’m almost sorry I suggested it. But if the break up kicks off the story, then the uncouple have a chance to find new relationships or become reconciled.

Now it’s your turn. How would you put a new spin on Valentine’s Day as writing inspiration?

 

 

Monday Sparks — Writing Prompts

water-play-2273051_1280For February, my theme is love and friendship. So my prompts will be about relationships. Who are these two boys? Brothers? Friends? They are having a good time. What happened that made them share a laugh? What happens next?

Let me know how this photo inspires you!

Writing Tip — Another Perspective on Writing about the Five Senses

woodw-3182655_1280To wrap up my month on writing about the five senses, I have a link to a blog post by Heather Blanton on K.M. Weiland’s site, “Helping Writers Become Authors.” I enjoyed this post because Ms. Blanton uses Edgar Allan Poe as an example of how to describe sound effectively. I hope you enjoy it, too. Click here.

Writing Tip — Writing with Senses: Writing about the Sense of Taste

french-friesw-1851143_1280Because the sense of taste can only occur in certain settings, writers may overlook it and not take advantage of it where it makes sense. But writing about the sense of taste can bring a fresh perspective to a scene that is dominated by sights and sounds.

How a meal tastes can show the emotional state of your point of view (POV) character. If your character is eating a favorite food, and someone tells her bad news, she will find the food tasteless or disgusting. Conversely, your character eats something he usually avoids, but he’s in such a good mood, his distaste disappears.

Describing what tastes your character likes and dislikes gives readers insight into her character. If your character is critical or spoiled, then she would harshly describe how certain foods don’t meet her high standards. Or your character may eat something he hates so as not to hurt the feelings of the cook, giving readers clues about his personality. For more on food as writing inspiration, click here for my post from November.

Words may be compared to tastes. A character makes a confession, and the words taste bitter. He says the name of a loved one, and it tastes sweet. For some people with a rare form of synesthesia, certain words really do stimulate a sense of taste. Check out this article to learn about his interesting condition.

Since smell and taste are so closely link, you can bring in taste to give a different spin on a smell. The odor of burning metal leaves a metallic taste. Sweet-scented flowers, the ocean, and fires all have a tastes to them.

How would you use the sense of taste in your writing?

 

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑