Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"Show" place with "telling details"

Create a sense of place through telling details

I figured the other bloggers would do a great job of sharing their techniques regarding "telling details," so I thought I'd focus on just one aspect--creating a sense of place using the five senses to show telling details, plus a couple more tips.
Mag glass
    1. Sight: Include three things you see in the scene that are unique to your character's viewpoint. For example, if you're describing a school classroom, you might mention the clock (waiting for school to get out), the waste basket (where the teacher threw your homework), and the graffiti on your desk (a picture of the teacher lying dead on the floor.)
2. Sound: Include 2 things you hear, besides voices, such as a baby crying in the distance, a creak in the old fence gate, a buzzing bee hovering around your head, or coins in someone's pocket.
 3. Smell: Include something you smell in the air, such as someone's perfume, a pie baking in the kitchen, a friend's popcorn breath, the overflowing litter box, or mold in the attic.
4. Taste: Include something you taste, but not necessarily something you're eating, such as the morning's toothpaste, a mint you just popped in your mouth, peanut butter from today's lunch, or the memory of a kiss.
5. Touch: Include something you feel physically, such as the wind on your skin, a chill down your back, the grib of a strong hand, a baby pulling your hair, or your itchy nose.
Feelings                                                      6. Plus: Include an internal reaction to the setting, such as a gut reaction, raised goosebumps, shaking hands, a sweaty brow, or a cold shiver.
7. Plus: Include the time of day, such as brisk morning, hot afternoon, cooling evening, humid night, or 2 am sleeplessness.
Weather                                                                           8. Plus: Include the weather, such as dark and stormy night, windy day, cloudy morning, flash flood warning, or smoggy summer.
 9. Finally: Include the overall mood, such as creepy, foreboding, serene, excitement, or black.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Skype - It's almost like being there

            Not one to let a new trend pass me by, I’ve recently learned to “Skype.” This cutting edge techno fad has only been around since 2003—a mere ten years—which is about how long it takes me to try something new. But since my husband is away on a business trip, I thought I’d give it look-hear.
            First, let me explain what Skype is, in case you haven’t tried anything new in ten years either.  Skype is essentially a “video-phone” that allows you to see your caller, simply by using your computer. I’ve always wanted one of these, ever since watching Buck Rogers and Star Trek. As a kid, I was sure Walt Disney was working on this telecommunications of the future. After all, I saw prototypes at Disneyland’s House of the Future back in the 50s.
            Now, five decades later, Skype, not Disney, finally came up with device that allows callers to not only hear one another’s voices over long distance, but also see our loved ones dressed only in their underwear, our friends drunk at a party, or our relatives’ cats. And it’s all free-ish!
            All you need is an internet connection (not free), a computer with a microphone and speakers (not free), and a “webcam” (not free). Once you have the equipment, then you simply follow these easy steps:
1.      Download Skype and create yet another account and forgettable password.
2.      Click on one of your “contacts.” No one on your contact list? Bummer. You’ll need some “contacts.”
3.      When you finally get a contact, check to see if he is online.
4.      Click “video-call” and listen to the catchy Skype tune while waiting for your friend to answer.
5.      When he does, smile (make sure there’s nothing in your teeth), wave (the Queen’s wave is best since the viewing screen is limited) and say hello (in fact, say it several times to make sure your friend can hear you.)
6.      While you chat, play with the options to increase the esthetics of your call. Adjust your volume, change the light, add color, include bizarre backgrounds, draw on mustaches, etc.
7.      If you can’t see your friend, click a bunch of keys, check your settings, call tech support, go to the Apple genius bar, or hang up and use your regular phone.
That’s it. Now, whenever my husband is on a business trip, we Skype. Our conversations go something like this:
            Me: “Hi!” (Remove glasses.)
            Him: “Hi!”
            Me: “How was your day?” (Hide new purchases.)
            Him: “Oh fine. Yours?
            Me: “Fine.” (Lean out of view and sneak a sip of wine.)
            Him: “What’s new?”
            Me: “Not much. What about you?” (Play solitaire while waiting for answer.)
            Him: “Same. Just watching sports on TV.”
            Me: “Ah.” (Turn on TV and watch anything but sports.)
            Him: “Your hair’s sticking out.”
            Me: “Thanks.” (Pat it down.) “Have you put on weight?”
            Him: “Ga—be—du—mo—You’re breaking up.”
            Me: “Yeah, you too.” (Matt Damon is on Ellen!)
            After a few more words of garbled jibberish, I shake my head, which means “This sucks” in Skype language. We hang up.
            Pretty amazing stuff.  I can’t wait until the next new invention. Maybe 3-D holograms of our loved ones beamed right into our homes, so we can sit and drink wine and watch the news on TV together, without saying a word. Just like real life.