Setting Thesaurus Entry: Ranch

Sight

Wide open fields, corrals, wooden fences, gates, cattle runs, cattle, horses, chickens/roosters, dusty ground, dust puffing under horse's hooves/cowboy's boots pick up trucks, horse trailers, sprawling farmhouse, large barn, stacked hay bales, pitchfork, shovel, grapples, cats, mice, coils of rope, saddles, tack, tack shed, brands, water trough, food trough, manure, weeds, garden , porch, rocking chair, wagon wheels, cattle skulls, horseshoes, feed buckets, pails, gas barrels, tractor, horse blanket, curry comb, salt lick, cow bells, milking shed, tools, broken down trucks/farm equipment, rain barrel, dust, dust devils, tumbleweeds, rabbits, dogs, prairie dogs/gophers, snakes, flowers, tufts of grass, tracks worn into the fields, mud, dugout, chicken coop, dog mats/doghouse, shotguns, raccoons, ravines trees, bushes, brambles, wild raspberry/Saskatoon,/gooseberry bushes, flies, spiders, cobwebs, old tires, rusted chain, pens, ranchers, workers, children, guests/visitors/clients, cattle guards, long dirt roads, gravel, wood shed, wood piles, axe, splitting stump

Sounds

The wind, whinnying, squeaking gates, calls of greeting, the clop of horses' hooves, dinner bell, old radio, talking, laughter, calling/talking to the animals, the creak of harnesses and tack, the scratch of rope being coiled or knotted, horses pawing at the ground, a dog yipping at a ranch hand's feet, doors opening and closing, cowboy boots scuffing the ground, the slurp of mud sucking at boots, the cluck of hens, cows lowing, the crunch of hay, the backfire of an old tractor, a truck firing up, the squeak of wheels, safety chains clanking, tailgates slamming shut, scraping as heavy hay bales are dragged closer to the edge of the shelf, the tick of boot heels over planks, horses tossing & snorting at one another, the heavy shuddering breath of a horse running full out, dogs barking, the cut-off squeak of a cut pinning a mouse, horse hooves clanging against a metal hrse tariler ramp

Smells

Manure, grass, dust and dirt, dry grass, horse hide, sweat, alfalfa & timothy hay, dirty straw, scents carried on the wind, food cooking, campfire smoke, cigarette smoke, domestic animals

Tastes

Dust in the mouth, spit, water, the tang of chewing sweet grass ends, cigarette tobacco, chewing tobacco, coffee, tea, beer, home cooking type foods, fresh garden vegetables, sweet & tart berries picked wild of the bush, beef jerky, biscuits, hearty stews & gravy, baked beans

Touch

The soft fuzz of a horse's lips nuzzling your hand for attention or treats (apple carrot, sugar cubes), hard-packed earth beneath your feet, leaning your chest against a fence railing, sitting on the top of a fence, the heaviness of a cowboy hat on the brow, wiping sweat with a bandanna, running fingers over rope, patting a horse's hide, stamping feet to loose muck or dust, heavy chaps hitting legs, pulling the brim of a hat in greeting, tightening/loosening buckles, swinging a saddle or horse blanket into place, flinging out corn or oats, feeling the dry seeds against the palm, pouring water over the back of the neck, sunburn, spitting on the ground, dipping two fingers into a shirt pocket for cigarettes or chew, the slow strokes of a curry comb over a horse's back, gripping onto the horse's mane with your fingers, lifting the hooves to check the horseshoes or clip nails, shovelling up manure, back pain, headaches, sunstroke, exhaustion, brushing dust off sleeves and pants, the rocking motion of riding in a saddle, pulling at the reins, squeezing milk from a cows teats in steady motions, bending to give a dog's head a pat, the cool air against the skin as night settles in, spitting sunflower seeds, the bump of an animal trying to get attention

Helpful hints:


--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1:

Mandy stifled a yawn and rested her chin against the smooth top rail of the corral. Sundancer stood in the middle of the dusty yard with Logan, who took careful steps toward the horse with a training bridle in his hand. Shadow cloaked most of the fenced area; the sun was only begining to crest the eastern field. She squinted in the pink-streaked darkness, determined to learn her brother's techniques. Early morning was the best time to break a horse--even the orneriest beast was amicable after a night of rest.

Example 2:

Sadie nudged her calves into Ginger's sides, urging the horse into a gallop. A brilliant smile lit up her face as she rose up in the saddle, her hair streaming behind her and the air rippling her clothes. This was the best part of it all, the best part of her world. This was when she could fly so fast, not even the wind could catch her.

--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile)

Ellis took the dipper from the trough and poured it over my sunburned neck. I stood still, trying to catch every drop, the cool relief as welcome as rain to a parched garden.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

Only ten am, the wind's breath pushed the wilting timothy stalks in hot, relentless gusts, promising another day of searing heat.

CTS Entry: Slimy


Natural:
Rotting leaves
Oils
Fat
Snot
Snail slime
Slugs
Eels
Worms
Salamanders
Fish
Rotten vegetables and meat
Raw Egg
Frog eggs
Pond scum
Bog muck
Jellyfish
Dog saliva
Wet noodles
Wet mushrooms/fungi
Lichen
Slime mold
Wet dead fall/deadwood
Algae
Salamanders
Sea cucumbers
Pumpkin guts
Squid
Octopus
Raw fish or prawns
Mud
Seaweed

Man-made:

Dog chew toys
Grease
Jelly/jam
Congealed gravy
Rotten garbage
Paper mache
Jell-o
Pudding
Noodles in sauce
dirty shower stalls
Sink sludge
Raw bacon
Boat bottoms
Dock/pier pilings

Synonyms:

Slippery, Slick, Oily, Viscous, Glutinous, Sludge, Gunk, Mucous, Goo, Guck, Gungy, Mire, Ooze

Describing texture in a story creates intimacy between reader and character, and can even cause an emotional trigger for both. To anchor the reader in the scene, make sure comparisons and contrasts are clear and relatable, and within the scope of the narrator's life knowledge and experience.

A weak example:

The port's fish market was something to see--piles of octopus and squid in plastic containers, their dripping, ropey tentacles hanging over the sides; mounds of gooey-skinned fish buzzing with flies; pails of oysters, their bumpy shells clotted with strings of algae. I shuddered and hailed a cab to take me to the nearest grocery store. I'd take packaged over fresh any day.

What's wrong with this example?

Lots of good, slimy imagery, but that's the problem...textures are most effective where you show them through touch.

A strong example:

I cringed as I dipped my bare leg into the bathtub of stinking fish guts. Ropes of cold intestines and who-knows-what slid around my skin. I brought my other leg in and bit down on a shriek as something full of puss broke open beneath my foot. My eyes teared up and my breath came in sharp, painful pants and as I lowered myself into the disgusting mass. All around me, the live audience screamed and shouted, and I imagined the TV cameras zooming in on my shaking hands as I clamped down on the sides of the free-standing tub. What the hell made me decide to become a contestant on Fear Factor?

Why does this example work?

This works because multiple senses (but primarily touch) work together to show the emotional reaction to this texture.

Another Winner...ME!

This is great to be able to announce this right after posting the winners of our recent, "Can You Hook Us?" contest! Are you ready?

*drum roll*

I have an AGENT!

I'm please to say Jill Corcoran of the Herman Agency is lending her awesomeness to my chapter book series, Myron's Bookshelf. Jill is supportive, full of talent and enthusiasm and has a fantastic marketing background. Combine that with an established and well-respected entity like the Herman Agency, and well...I'm pretty much sure this is a dream.

Like a really super cool one, so don't wake me up!

Jill is actively building her client list, seeking published Middle Grade and YA authors. For an idea of what she's looking for specifically, please visit her here.

"Can You Hook Us" WINNERS


First let me say one thing: picking winners was NOT an easy task. You guys sent in some great work, and all of it drew our interest in one way or another.

I'll tell you a bit about the process.

First up, when all the follower's entries came in, I was careful not to read them as I didn't want to tie any entries to specific people. I checked for periods--if I saw one or two, you got in. More than that, no.

Then I took all the blurbs and cut and pasted them into Word without the authors identifying them. If you didn't send in a title, then I listed your title as 'Unknown'.

I picked my top five, and Becca picked her top five. It turned out there were two we agreed on, so those became instant winners. Of the others we'd each chosen, we agonized until the point of pain until we could each pick one. We then initiated OPERATION: SUDDEN DEATH, where we debated the pros and cons of each. After this, we did three rounds of Rock, Paper, Scissors and finally topped it off with virtual leg wrestling.

It was intense. And exhausting. Becca's a champ virtual leg wrestler, I kid you not.

And finally...we had another winner.

*Drum Roll*

So, in no particular order...


BENEATH THESE HILLS By: Hazardgal

Bimbi and Tug's fragile young son is missing from their new home in the Appalachian Mountains and was last seen lurking around a forgotten outhouse. The world beneath them, riddled with caves and abandoned mines seems to have lured him away into a web of decay and certain death.

Why: Interesting location, a non-stereotypical focal character, a strange world beneath an outhouse. It feels original.


A PLACE CALLED HOPE'S WELL
By: Bish

When Maya's mother, and only family, is brutally murdered Maya is thrown into the foster care system. Not only must she deal with the small things, like having a room mate and a new school, but she must deal with her grief and the discovery that the murderer is living in her new back yard.

Why: Foster Care angle, and the murderer living in her backyard. What would that be like, knowing the murderer and living so close to them? What will she do? Lots of good questions here.

CONTROL ISSUES By: ElanaJ

In a world where Thinkers control the population and Rules are not meant to be broken, fifteen-year-old Violet Schoenfeld does a hell of a job shattering them to pieces. When secrets about her “dead” sister and not-so-missing father hit the fan, Vi must make a choice: control or be controlled.

Why: The voice comes through here well, speaking of a strong-willed and stubborn character. The suggestion that the sister may not be dead and the father isn't missing is a huge draw--why would someone mess with you by lying about this? Add this to controlled society...a compelling pitch.

Congrats to all the winners! You can submit your first chapter or 3000 words, whichever comes first, for critique to the contact info in our profiles.

And thanks to everyone who entered! We really enjoyed seeing a glimpse of your projects and there were some great characters and story lines in the mix. Awesome job, everyone!

Setting Description Entry: Movie Theatre

Sight

White screen, velvey curtains, round lights, carpeted floor, lighted steps, padded seats, lopsided broken seats, popcorn boxes, drink cups, pop bottles, water bottles, candy wrappers, chocolate bar wrappers, nacho trays, cup holders, napkins, booster seats, posters, garbage bins, popcorn/skittles/smarties/gum on the floor, moviegoers, kids running up stairs, teens jumping over rows/throwing popcorn, coats over seats, purses, people juggling food/drinks, movie previews and advertisments, a theatre attendant walking down the aisle during the movie with a flashlight, feet up on seats, big hair, people wearing hats, straws, staff cleaning up spills, seats rocking back and forth, people waving to each other

Sounds

Whispering during the movie, too-noisy previews, cell phones being turned off, the feature film dialogue, music from the soundtrack, popcorn crunching, slurping pop up straws, fizz of soda bottles being opened, gum popping, laughter, crying, screams, seats squeaking, seats thumping closed as someone gets up to use the restroom, catcalls, cell phones going off by accident, people dropping things, the rattle of ice in a drink container

Smells

Popcorn, salt, butter, grease, chocolate, perfume, cologne, wet carpet, old fabric chairs, smelly feet, spices (from salsa, pizza, etc), sweet soda, cold food in the garbage can


Tastes
hot popcorn, salt, butter, chocolate, licorice, mint, peanuts, chewy and hard candy, nachos and cheese, pretzels, soda, water


Touch
carpeted steps, sticky floor, cloth seats, plastic drink holders, bounce of seats as you sit down or get up, too-cold air conditioning, people stepping on your feet when they pass by, perspiring beverages, cold bottles, bendy straw, gritty buttery popcorn, melty chocolate, gooey nachos, cardboard trays/popcorn and candy boxes, thin napkins, shoulders brushing the people next to you, someone's feet on the back of your chair




Helpful hints:


--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1: It took three attempts to find a seat that didn't try to dump me on the floor. Loose upholstery strings tickled my arms as I settled in. I aimed my drink toward the plastic holder, but it banged against the sides--too big. I thought about setting it on the ground, but the sticky squeak of my shoes said the floor already had enough soda. I squeezed the softening cup between my knees and tore open a bag of Skittles. A baby cried somewhere down front. Ahh, the Dollar Movie Theater. Worth every cent.


Example 2: She sneered at the poor saps milling around the front of the theater: arms balancing flimsy trays of candy and soda; necks craning to find an empty seat; boxes of once-hot popcorn quickly cooling into greasy clumps. Desperate voices drifted up to her: "Are those seats taken?" Michelle shook her head and rattled her half-empty box of Goobers. People who showed up on opening night with five minutes to spare got just what they deserved.

--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile) The movie wasn't funny, but we all laughed at the right spots, like brainwashed zombies doing what we were supposed to.


Example 2: (Metaphor) The woman next to me blew into her hands. Someone sneezed. I shivered and wrapped my arms around my knees--one of a hundred frozen bonbons in a theater-sized icebox.

Contest Closed



Thanks everyone for submitting to our blurb contest. Becca and I will announce our three winners Sunday, March 21st. We're very excited to see what everyone has come up with!

Last Call for "Can you Hook Us?" Entries



All right folks, I'll be shutting down this contest in just a few hours. There's a small window of time to get in those last few entries.

Want to show us what you've got? Here's the details:


How do you enter?

We are looking for engaging 1-2 sentence book blurbs from your completed novel or work-in-progress. All genres are welcome except for Erotica. You can submit your blurbs either in the comment section here, or email Angela through her profile contact info. Please include the title, and if you like, the genre. Your goal is to hook us as best you can, so make your blurb compelling, accurate and dynamic.

Who can enter?

Anyone who is a current Follower of The Bookshelf Muse or is a member of our Facebook Group. And since I'm in a great mood over finally having my kitchen cabinets installed after huge delays (YAY!), anyone who has joined up since the contest opened is welcome to submit as well.

Now, the good stuff...prizes!

Up for grabs are 3 double critiques (one from Becca, one from Angela) on your first chapter or 3000 words, whichever comes first. We will pick our top three hooks and the prizes will be awarded on Sunday, March 22. If a Picture Book is chosen, the we will critique the full manuscript.

You can find all the current entries in the comments here.

CTS entry: Brown

Real World Comparisons:

Light

Muddy water
River after the rain
Weak tea
Water stain
Cricket
Stone
Turtle's skin
Seeds
Nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, filberts)
Freckle
Pollution
Suntans
Baked Bread
Cappuccino
Lattes
Corks
Mushrooms
Dead leaves
Brown Eggs
Peanut butter
Hares
Dried palm fronds
Sandstone
Paper bag
Caramels
Topaz

Medium:

Tree bark
Mud
Dirt
petrified wood
Cinnamon stick
Leather
Copper
Rust
Potato skin
Chocolate
Spider
Poop
Turtle's skin
Seeds
Nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, filberts)
Age spot
Deer hide
Kinds of wood
Maple Syrup
Rotten spots on fruit
Dried figs
Old pennies
UPS trucks, uniforms, parcel paper
Bears
Brown sugar
Coconut husks
Cows
Foxes
Pussy willows
Baked Beans
Tarantula
Old fences and barns
Deer
Gravy
Logs
Chocolate Bars
Cocoa powder
Monk's robe
Monkeys
Beavers
Baked beans
Dried Blood

Dark:

Oaks
Twig
Strong tea
Runny ink
Dark Chocolate
Liver
Motor oil
Dried vanilla beans
Espresso
Coke, Pepsi, Root beer, Beer, Malt
Pussy willows
Mummified bodies
Chocolate Bars
Truffles
Pill bottles
Moose
Burnt toast
Wet or rotten leaves

Shades of Brown:

Umber, tan, sepia, russet, bronze, mahogany, sorrel, beige, tawny, brunette, hazel, auburn, mocha

Make every detail count

Colors are powerful descriptors, not fillers. Make sure that if you use a comparison or contrast to highlight a color, you choose the right one. Look at the setting and atmosphere you are working to create, then draw from the viewpoint character or narrator's history, education and past experiences to find the right fit.

A poor example:

After working the plow all afternoon, Ralfie's skin was the color of horsehide.

What's wrong with this example?

Horses come in many colors. Be careful to pick a comparison that is an absolute.

A strong example:

She pulled back her hood, revealing hair the color of espresso, only as coarse and unhealthy as a broom missing half it's bristles.

Why is this example better?

This example not only shows us the color, it shows us the person being described cares little about their appearance. It also uses an effective contrast of something robust (espresso) to something run down (a broom missing its bristles).

Books...and the End of the World


I haven't posted much in the way of my resolve to read more, so I figure this post should help make up for it.

First off, I have the BEST Reading Pile. Look at all these goodies!

Once I plow through these, I'm going on another scouting mission for some of my blogger chums' books that I was unable to find on my last trip to the library & Indigo books. I am not a quitter, and you guys have so many good books that I just can't wait to get into.

Some of these books have been waiting on my shelf for awhile, I'll admit. I find that when I'm drafting, I have to read books that have similar moods or themes to what I'm writing. I can't read books that have the same content tho--there's too big a chance that it might sway what I write. But It's hard for me to read a romance or something that focuses on high school cliques when I'm writing a MG about death.

(And yeah, that's what I'm writing about...death. You can see the book blurb here!)

Speaking of death and dark themes, I am probably the last person on the planet to do so, but I just finished reading The Hunger Games.


WOW! I have to say I loved it. It was one of the few books I've read in a long while where the content kept me so hooked I didn't see the writing at all. I couldn't put it down, and finished it during a self-appointed sick day I took last week. Have you read it? What did you think of it?

I'll admit, I was a bit leery of the book simply because reading the synopsis made me think that the author had taken Stephen King's The Running Man and smooshed it with Stephen King's The Long Walk.

Hubby and I are loyal King Fans, as you can see. After reading The Hunger Games though, I think I can say clearly that while the author certainly may have been influenced from these books regarding core ideas, what she did from there was completely her own and original enough that I didn't see it as a King rip off at all. I'd love to hear your take if you're familiar with these books.

Now, a Random Book Fact. See that green book on the top of my reading pile? Some of you may know about the significance of 2012 and the end of the Mayan Calendar.

The last day of the Mayan Calendar occurs on December 21, 2012. There are some people who believe that this will be the 'end of the world' where a purification will occur through a fiery cataclysm of some kind, while others believe that this date signifies a point where mankind will develop a higher state of consciousness and awareness. In any case, it will be a day that everyone will be looking at with increased interest and possibly fear as it draws near.

So why do I have a book about this event? Well, seeing as the world may end on my birthday, I figured I should be in the know. Wouldn't you do the same?

And as a reminder, don't forget to get your BOOK BLURBS in for our Can You Hook Us? Followers-only contest. The deadline is midday Friday March 20th, so get your 1-2 sentence pitches in! You can submit the entries in the the comment section here, or email them to me through my contact info.

Happy reading and writing!

Setting Thesaurus Entry: School Office

Sight

chairs, couches, carpeted floor, little end tables, parenting/educational magazines, desks for receptionists with all the secretarial paraphernalia (phone, computer, desk calendar, files, stapler, pens, post-it notes, markers), smudged plate-glass window looking into the nearest school hallway, educational posters/pictures on walls, private bathroom, separate room for copier/fax/teacher mailboxes/etc, bulletin board with meeting notices and other announcements, framed diplomas, family pictures, wooden Principal's desk, big cushy rolling chair, secretaries, principal, kids and parents waiting in chairs, tray of half-eaten breakfast goodies, fake plants, aquarium, student artwork, garbage can, recycling bins, calendar, sign in books, visitor passes, school hand outs, lost and found jars for small items (glasses, cel phones, jewelry), jars filled with pens, sick room


Sounds

phones ringing, papers rustling, click of keyboards, door opening and closing, noise of busy hallways outside, kids outside talking/laughing, running feet in the halls, period bells ringing, fire alarm, secretaries talking on phone/chatting/laughing quietly, flip of magazine pages, parents talking on cell phones in hushed voices, parents/students whispering, students crying, announcements being made over the intercom, file cabinets jerking open/sliding closed, jingle of keys, beep of walkie-talkies, hum of copier, stapler banging, scissors swishing, scratch of pens, muffled voices from behind Principal's closed door, grind of pencil sharpener


Smells

warm smell of new copies, sweaty kids, perfume/cologne, markers, coffee, leftover breakfast/snack/lunch smells (oatmeal, bananas, bacon, pizza, hot dogs, etc), hot printer cartridges, musty carpet


Tastes

rubbery erasers, wood pencils, bubblegum, hard candy, mints, fingernails, tears, breakfast foods from the community tray (doughnuts, bagels, muffins, pastry), coffee, water, tea


Touch

glass window pane, embroidered chair, leather couch, hard folding chair, scuff of carpet beneath the feet, anxious body movements (increased pulse, butterflies in stomach, racing heart, fidgety body parts), cold telephone receiver, metal door knobs, scratchy pen when signing in, a sweaty grip,


Helpful hints:


--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1:

I glanced up to check on Billy, who kicked at the leg of his chair as he waited for his turn to see the principal. The ice pack I'd given him for his bruised knee had fallen onto the floor and his glare burned the carpet. The third fight he'd started this week, yet from the way his lip puffed out and his arms squeezed his chest, you'd think he'd been on the victim end of things.

Example 2:

Jennifer sat at the edge of her hard plastic seat, her mouth drier than three-day-old toast. Above her, the steady click of the wall clock kept her company as she waited for the principal to come talk to her. The word had sounded so funny when Ben had whispered it: thong. Why did I repeat it--and so loudly--when I didn't even know what it meant?

--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile)

I squirmed on the bench as the Principal's door snicked open. His shoes made quick scuffs against the thin carpet and then suddenly he was there, looming over me like an angry wave about to swallow me whole.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

I stomped on the snow mat, dislodging what I could of the snow crusting my boots, then carted Emily's forgotten backpack into the office. At the visitor's desk I attempted to flag down a secretary, but the room was a hive of activity: phones buzzed, late students argued their cases for being tardy and teachers swooped in with coffee cups in hand, gathering their mail on the way to class.

Follower Contest Extension


Hi guys!

We're going to extend our "Can you Hook Us?" Follower contest until March 20th to make sure all our Followers get ample time to get in their entries. Too, we've seen a few blurbs that don't quite follow guidelines, so I'll re post the rules here.

Please read the contest guidelines carefully before submitting.

How do you enter?

We are looking for engaging 1-2 sentence book blurbs from your completed novel or work-in-progress. All genres are welcome except for Erotica. You can submit your blurbs either in the comment section, or email Angela through her profile contact info. Please include the title, and if you like, the genre. Your goal is to hook us as best you can, so make your blurb compelling, accurate and dynamic.

Who can enter?

Anyone who is a current Follower of The Bookshelf Muse or is a member of our Facebook Group. And since I'm in a great mood over finally having my kitchen cabinets installed after huge delays (YAY!), anyone who has joined up since the contest opened is welcome to submit as well.

Now, the good stuff...prizes!

Up for grabs are 3 double critiques (one from Becca, one from Angela) on your first chapter or 3000 words, whichever comes first. We will pick our top three hooks and the prizes will be awarded on Sunday, March 22. If a Picture Book is chosen, the we will critique the full manuscript.

I'll post the current entries in the comment section so you can see the competition. If your entry is not included, likely your email has gone astray or the guidelines weren't quite followed, so feel free to resubmit.

Happy Hooking!
And I mean that in a writerly way, not...*coughs*

CTS Entry: Gritty


Natural:

Dirt
Mud
Sand
Morning eye gunk
Tartar on teeth
Dried tears
Thick dust coating a counter, shelf or knick-knack
Coffee grounds
Pepper
Dirty drinking water
Crushed gravel
Sawdust
Peanut shell 'dust'
Crushed sea shells
Chicken feed
Pollen
Dried sweat
Blowing ice pellets/snow
Poppy seeds
Pumice
Sandstone
Fruit and berries with edible seeds (kiwifruit, raspberries, dragon fruit, etc)
Sand dollars
Tiny crystals


Man-made:

Toothpaste
Sandpaper
Sugar
Salt
Nail file/buffer
Facial scrubs (exfoliation)
Egg shells dropped in food
Chip crumbs (brushing them off a shirt, fingers, lips)
Bread crumbs on a tablecloth
Debris on a floor
Cookie crumbs
Dried on food
Brown sugar
Parmesan cheese shaker
Spices
Whole wheat germ flour
Wet cement
Drinking form a dirty glass with dishwasher gunk at the bottom
Old ice cream (freezer burn)
Crushed cookies or crackers
Cornmeal
Rock blanket
Cat litter
Natural soaps
Laundry soap
Jell-o crystals
Glitter
Fertilizer
Blended ice drinks (Margaritas, coffee drinks, Slurpee's
Grout
Epsom salts, bath crystals/salts, seasoning salt

Synonyms:

Mealy, coarse-textured, tophaceous, rough, sandy, granular, grit, grainy

Describing texture in a story creates intimacy between reader and character, and can even cause an emotional trigger for both. To anchor the reader in the scene, make sure comparisons and contrasts are clear and relatable, and within the scope of the narrator's life knowledge and experience.

A weak example:

He bent over double, coughing and hacking, dropping the reins to prop his hands on his knees. A breeze from Hell tickled his sweating skin, coating him with a layer of dirt. He wiped his face, removing the fine grains and a bit of skin with it. He kicked the parched ground, sending up a tornado of dust. What was the point of trying to seed this desert?

What's wrong with this example?

The comparisons are over-done. A breeze from Hell, the dirt actually removing skin from his face, a tornado of dust from a simple boot scuff...all are comparisons that could be good if they were toned down. As is, they give the passage a feeling of melodrama that makes it unbelievable.

A strong example:

The gale whipped my hair into a frenzy of knots and tried to knock me off my feet. I braced myself, head bowed against the blowing ocean spray. The winds were nearly hurricane force now, strong enough to scour my skin with the sand they carried. I closed my eyes, felt the sting of raindrops like persistent guests banging on the windows. Stumbling, I made my way back inside to bar the door.

Why does this example work?

The comparisons are realistic, matching both the narrator's voice and the context.

Bookshelf Muse Followers Contest!


Would you look at all those avatars in the sidebar? 102 Followers, and all of you absolutely awesome! Thank you so much for keeping us in your radar. To celebrate, Becca and I are having a special Followers Only contest!

It's simple-simple, too! We figure that since we managed to hook you on The Bookshelf Muse, it's only fair to repay the favor and offer prizes for hooking us!

Here's what you do:

If you are a current follower or a member of our Facebook group, give us a 1-2 sentence blurb for for your plot(completed novel or work-in-progress) in the comment section. Any genre is welcome except Erotica, and please give us your title as well. The contest will close end of day Saturday (I'll post in the comments) and winners will be announced Monday.

The prizes:

A double critique (one from Becca, one from me) is up for grabs to the top 3 book blurbs that hook us the most. We will critique your first chapter or 3000 words, whatever comes first.

If you aren't a follower yet, no worries. We love contests and will be holding more in the future, so it's never to late to become an Esteemed Stalker of The Bookshelf Muse!

Please feel free to pass on the word to others. We can't wait to read your hooks!

More StumbleUpon Links!



As promised, I've found some more cool links for you to check out!

Tynt Tracer

This one looks neat. Do you want to know who's using your content from your website or blog? Simply sign up (it's free!) and Tracer will not only track your content and images, but also create immediate links back to your posts and pages!

Be aware that it may take a few days to have Tracer--I signed up yesterday and received a prompt message stating they were seeing high volume and it may take a bit to process.

Dialogue helper

A great article on the do's and don'ts of dialogue!

Cliches and Expressions Origins

Want to look up a cliche's family tree? Need to know where an old expression came from? Look no further!

Writer's Cheat Sheet

All the possible choices for plots, character archetypes, conflicts and even an easy step by step way to find your book's pitch paragraph!

Ten Common Flaws When Writing a Crime Scene Want to avoid rookie mistakes? Check in with an expert on common misconceptions.

Hope you enjoy these, and have a great week!

Setting Thesaurus Entry: The Stands at a Sporting Event

Sight

Fans, team jerseys, face paint, ball caps, sweaters, rain gear, beer in plastic cups, hard plastic benches or seats, air horns, foam fingers, plastic bull horns, pennants, flags, hand-made signs, pom poms, cameras flashing, popcorn littered tiered seating, concrete or metal steps, pop, water bottles, fry trays, pretzels, hot dogs, ice cream, nachos with cheese, crumbled up candy bags, frilly paper hot dog holders, hot dogs, employees hawking food, drinks and 50-50 tickets, numbers on seats and rows, wet floors from spills, people sitting & standing shoulder to shoulder, camaraderie between strangers, ice cream dripping onto fingers and clothes, team shirts, team colors, people with ball gloves, football helmets or other gear tailored on the event, special pads to soften the seat, jackets slung over the back of a seat, umbrellas, bare chested men with numbers painted on them, souvenirs, pins, sunglasses left behind, trash among the seats, empty beer/pop cans, cotton candy, peanuts, peanut shells, metal railings, numbered steps, a view of the jumbo-tron, speakers, mascots frolicking with the crowd, men frothing at cheerleaders, a t-shirt gun shooting t shirts into the crowd, people jumping to catch a fly ball or high puck, opposing team jerseys, fights breaking out, shouting matches, money changing hands, TV cameras, signs for sponsors, ad banners, security staff, glass separators

Sounds

Announcer on loud speaker, screams, shouts, cheers, whistles, cat calls, grumbles, groans, beer cans crumpling, seats creaking, talking, laughing, joking, booing, muttering, people trying to talk over the crowd, music, referee's whistle, swearing, the crinkle of food wrappers, the crunch of popcorn & nacho chips, slurping on drinks, team member interviews, voice-over ads during time outs, cell phones going off, the roar of a crowd chanting in unison, fireworks going off, marching bands at half time, a far off shout between players, the patter of popcorn spilling over the top of the bag as someone jumps up and down with excitement, the rustle of pom poms, horns honking, police/security radios, the rattle of a paper sign being shaken at the team, the crunch of pop corn/peanut shells underfoot

Smells

Pop corn, hot dogs, sweaty bodies, perfume, spilled beer, orange pop, grease, cinnamon, sugar, tart/astringent condiments (mustard, vinegar for fries, ketchup), cotton candy machines, ozone-like smell of cement/metal (especially when raining or cold)

Tastes

Water, beer, pop, hot dogs, mini donuts, churros, garlic fries, hamburgers, candy chocolate bars, ice cream, licorice, warm peanuts, pretzels, juice, ketchup, gravy, grease, corn dogs, onion rings, slush drinks, snow cones (root beer, cherry, lime, pina colada, strawberry, blue raspberry, orange), pop corn, cotton candy, nachos, cheese, salsa, jalapenos, an oniony burp

Touch

Hard seats on the backside, back pain, strain from sitting &/or standing, bumping against other people, feet sticking to the stands, giving someone a high five, grabbing at someone in an exciting moment, beer being dumped on you by accident, tripping in the narrow isles, patting someone on the back or shoulder, finding gum on the seat, accidentally kicking trash or empty bottles, stepping on someone else's foot, gripping a bag of popcorn, licorice or peanuts so it doesn't get dislodged by a stray elbow or hand, cold condensation against the hand from beer, water or pop containers, the tick of popcorn off your clothes as someone accidentally spills, spittle in the face when someone leans in close to shout something at you, elbow jabs, greasy fingers, licking grease or ketchup off the fingers, swiping at hands and face with a napkin, wiggling around in the seat because you have to go to the bathroom but don't want to miss any game time

Helpful hints: --The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1:

The first game of the season, every seat was filled, the stadium a showcase of the Stampeders' red and white colors. As the football players hit the field, their strides both energetic and nervous, a familiar chant began up in the stands. Soon every throat gave pride a voice, their song swelling until the stadium itself began to vibrate. At the last note, a cascade of fireworks lit up the dusky sky and everyone erupted into ecstatic cheers.

Example 2:

I pushed my elbows into my sides and stared down to the full cup of beer I was trying to protect. Silly me, thinking I'd actually get to drink it--even the slightest movement and I'd bump into the meaty overflow of the career couch potato next to me. This always happened, every year. I never got a spot next to the anorexic teen or the stringy management consultant, no way. Instead I'd get stuck sitting next to Jabba the Hutt in a stained undershirt, getting everything imaginable dumped on me every time we scored a touch down.

--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile)

Every time the row of shirtless super fans jumped up from their seats, the painted slogan, "Go Flames Go!" jiggled across their bulging stomachs like the words were made of Jell-o.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

When the horn sounded to end the Grey Cup, the jubilant crowd jumped up, hands punching the air and popcorn flying across the seats in a buttery snowfall.

CTS entry: Oval & Oval-like

Natural:

Faces
Lemon
Egg (robin, ostrich, chicken, lizard, crocodile, turtle)
Leaves (Beech, birch, hornbeam, alder, juneberry, elm, witch hazel, dogwood, mint)
Fish
Flower petals
Seeds (pumpkin, wild cucumber, beans)
Pebbles
Sea stones
Fingernails
Gems
Turtle shell
Mango
Papaya
Ponds
Mussels
Fresh water pearls
Almonds
Olive
Rice grain
Wheat
Kiwi
Cockroach
Wood/water beetles
Potato
Corn cob
Spaghetti squash
Pine cones
Rain droplet

Man-made:

Football
Boogie board
Tanning salon eye protectors
Some buttons on phones, fax machines, etc
Shampoo bottles
Nail buffers
Platters/plates/bowls
Loop Earrings
Mirror
Swimming pool
Watch face
Cameo pin
Locket
Dining room table
Rug
Bracelet/brooch/other jewelry
Fancy buttons
Race track
Football Stadium
UFOs
Tanning bed
Vitamins (cod liver oil, multi vitamins, Vitamin E)
Sun glass lens
Toilet seats
The bowl of a spoon
Jellybean
M & M peanut
Egyptian cartouche
Tennis racket
Inflatable boat/dingy
Cruise ship

Synonyms:

Tear drop, ovate, ovoid, elliptic, prolate, loop, almond-shaped


Describing a shape is best done in as few words as possible. Think of the shape as a camera snap shot--you want to capture the gist of what you mean as soon as possible so you can get on with other related (and more important) detail, and the action happening in the scene

A weak example:

After adjusting my snorkel mask, I lowered my head into the blue-green water. All along the pier, schools of colorful fish lazed about, hiding from the Caribbean sun. Up ahead, a particularly ugly fish caught my attention--an oval shaped thing with fat, grey lips and wicked looking teeth. It hid underneath something the same size as it, which I figured must be the foot of another hotel guest sitting on the pier above with his legs dangling into the water. I surfaced to warn him what lurked beneath the bottom of his foot and ended up choking on a mouthful of salt water. The only thing in front of me was an anchored rowboat, about seven feet in length. An image of the monster's knife-sized teeth ripping through my wetsuit sent me flailing backwards, away from the boat and the freakishly huge fish beneath it.

What's wrong with this example?

The description is a bit long and rambly, which steals a bit of the punchline--a fish the same size as a row boat. Tighter description along with a more specific image than 'maybe a guy's foot' will bring more oomph to the twist at the end.

A strong example:

The amber pendant hung against the hollow of her throat like a glistening drop of honey.

Why does this work?

The description here is economical and offers a concrete image of both color and shape.

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