Use Places You’ve Lived to Enhance Your Story

image by stokpic

You don’t need to use the actual place, but you could use the memories:
• something you saw (good or bad)
• a specific feeling you had (exhilaration, fear, sadness)
• a general feeling you had (ominous, out of place, homey)
• a person you met (friend, enemy, boyfriend)
• a particular setting within the place (a cabin, school, ship)
• an event (reunion, festival, lost)

List the places then let memories from each location flow. Write them down. Does one fit your work in progress in some way? Would it add flavor to the plot or a character? Humor to your story?

I’ve lived in sixteen places. I’ll pick four as examples of what I’ve learned from them.

Significant Memories from Places I’ve Lived

 

Baltimore, MD – As a preteen, I saw from the family car a wailing, bloody-faced man running alongside a big car, his hands clutching the window rim. The car sped up and the old man fell to the pavement. I felt horror. I was also frustrated that I’d never know the story behind the event. Were the men inside stealing his car? Were they getting rid of him by abandoning him? This memory warned of the frustration readers experience when the author doesn’t tie up loose ends.

Petionville, Haiti – At ages seven to ten, I lived on a mountainside overlooking Port-au-Prince in a gray stucco house with a red metal roof.

image by Efraimstochter

The tropical island was wonderful – fiery orange flamboyant trees, warm temperatures, big lizards, our parrots and donkey, aqua water, hibiscus flowers, international school, the merengue dance.

Haiti was mysterious – paths through the forests to nearby villages; frenzied Mardi Gras celebrators dressed in costumes dancing in our yard; a dead chicken hanging from a tree in the middle of the woods near an extinguished fire; our cook screaming because a Voodoo doll was pinned to her outside door; rats bumping and banging inside our metal roof during a deluge.

Haiti was dangerous – revolution, corrupt election, rise of Papa Doc, Papa Doc’s violent Tonton Macoute thugs. A Haitian looking for the Spanish embassy drove up our road and stopped at our house. Blood covered the seat of his pants. People were dead and wounded in the back of the police van he’d hijacked during an attack on his family.

I’m drawn to tell a fictional story about a little girl who saves an Arab boy whose Father’s jewelry business comes under a Tonton Macoute raid. The time hasn’t been right yet.

image by Sharonang

Norfolk, VA – During a rare snow, my father built me an igloo. After I’d hounded him, I was afraid to go inside when frostbite threatened my fingers and toes. I will never forget the pain from my thawing appendages. I used this experience in Gift of the Magpie.

That same winter, my sister, two friends, and I fell through the ice on a lake. Our wet heavy coats worked against treading water. When we tried to get out, the ice caved. I was so exhausted, I decided to give up and drifted under. I learned about the will to live.

image by Military_Material

Guantanamo Bay, Cuba – As a high school teen, I lived on the five-mile-square Naval base. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, my mother, brother, and I were evacuated on the USS Upshur with little in our suitcase. We returned three months later. My three days aboard ship with friends trying to avoid a sergeant and cleaning toilets was an adventure.

The next year, after threats from Castro, the base admiral sealed the pipes from which we received water. We went three days without water until a water tanker arrived. I learned to appreciate water.

Use the events and feelings in places you’ve lived to enrich your stories. Click to tweet.

What place taught you something that you could use in a story?

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Suddenly unemployed, Allie Masterson returns home to Cary, North Carolina where she caddies for her father on the PGA Seniors Tour. There, she encounters a man who possesses an alluring gift of reading the contours of the green. Fascinated with his uncanny ability, Allie is excited to meet the Green Whisperer—until she discovers that the easygoing caddy is actually Shoo Leonard, the boy who teased her relentlessly when they were kids. Despite Allie’s reservations, when Shoo is faced with having to overcome a hand injury, she agrees to use her sport science degree to become his trainer…and then she falls for him.

 Shoo Leonard is grateful to Allie for her singular determination to get him ready for the PGA tour, but he isn’t ready for anything more. Still raw from a broken engagement and focused on his career, he’s content to be her fist-bumping buddy…but then he falls for her.

What seems like a happily-ever-after on the horizon takes a turn when Allie decides she’s become a distraction to Shoo’s career. Is it time for her to step away or can The Putting Green Whisperer find the right words to make her stay?

Show Love Without Saying “I Love You.”

image by Crazygoat

Valentine’s Day approaches, and I have a novella in a Valentine’s Day collection. See more about Cooking Up Kisses at the end of my post.

Today, I use associated behaviors from The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Attributes (Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi) to show Liam and Erin love each other. See if you can recognize the behaviors of love.

Liam

Liam sat on their favorite park bench. Expecting Erin fifteen minutes ago, he scrolled through the pages of an online newspaper. As approaching heels clicked the sidewalk in a hurried rhythm, he looked up. Erin’s red hair bobbed with each step. Liam rose, slid his phone into his pants pocket, and offered her a slow smile.

“I’m sorry I’m late.” Erin raised her face, and he pecked her soft lips.

image by HeungSoon

They sat. He reached for her hand and held her fingers in a loose grip. A little crease appeared between her lovely arched eyebrows. He searched her green eyes. “Everything all right?”

“It’s been one of those days.”

“I’m all ears.”

She touched the dimple in his chin and smiled. “You always are. I don’t know how you can be so handsome with so many ears.”

He chuckled. “So what’s your day been like, Erin?” He cocked his head, focused his eyes on hers, and listened as she related how her boss took credit for her work.

He released her hand when she needed it to express herself, then corralled it again when she calmed and sighed.

“Have you thought about taking the Mercury Street job? It sounded good.”

She searched his face. “Do you really think so?”

“I do. I think they’d appreciate your many talents there.”

“How do you know?”

“I researched their website and read all the comments. The comments alone showed they respect their employees.” He arched an eyebrow. “You may have to work longer hours, but they compensate by sharing profits with their employees.”

Erin cupped his face. “What would I do without you? You always make me feel better.”

A wide smile stretched his cheeks.

Erin

Erin answered her cell. “Hello, handsome.”

“Just checking in before I step up to the first tee.”

Erin smacked her forehead. “I forgot this is your golf day.”

“Did you need something?”

“No no.” No need to mention she’d made his favorite casserole for lunch.

image by Skitterphoto

“I probably won’t play more than the front nine. I left my putter in the garage after I rewrapped the grip. Putting with my sand wedge won’t help my game.”

“I can bring the putter to you. I go by the course on my way to the grocery story.” Which she didn’t need to go to, since they would eat reheated casserole for dinner. But the guy couldn’t enjoy his outing without his putter.

“That’d be great. I tee off in ten minutes.

“Who’re you playing with?”

Jim’s sick, so I’m playing alone.”

Erin’s gaze drifted to the romance she planed to read this afternoon. “How would you like some company? I can drive the cart while you make birdies.”

“I’d like the company, but are you sure? I bet you have plans for your day off.”

“I can think of nothing I’d rather do than spend the afternoon with you.” And oddly enough, she was telling the truth. Why read about romance when she could live it.

Show the love. Literally. Click to tweet.

What behaviors have you used to show love?

COOKING UP KISSES

Five scrumptious e-book romance novellas, all for $0.99 or free on KindleUnlimited. Ranked #4 in Christian Fiction Collections. Here’s the link.  Here’s the blurbs:

 

 

 

THE INVISIBLE WOMAN IN A RED DRESS BY ZOE M. McCARTHY

Candace Parks lives a passionless life in Richmond. The computer programmer returns to the empty family home in the Blue Ridge Mountains solely to evaluate her job, faith, and boyfriend. Her high school crush, Trigg Alderman, who barely remembers her, visits his Gram next door. Sorting her life out? How about nothing of the sort!

 

LOVE ON A DARE BY MARY MANNERS

Alana Mulvaney’s life is in a holding pattern. Consumed by day-to-day operations of the family business, Alana has no time for fun or romance. But a little fun and a whole lot of romance is just what Alana’s sisters have in mind when they learn childhood friend Donovan O’Reilly has returned to town.
Donovan O’Reilly has loved Alana Mulvaney since he moved in next door to her at the age of five. But he broke her heart when he was forced to leave town, and now that he’s returned home to Winding Ridge he has a second chance to prove himself. But is it too late to earn her trust…and her love…again?

HUMMINGBIRD KISSES BY DELIA LATHAM

Toni Littlebird believes that when she meets the man God created for her, she’ll know—and she’ll love him in that very moment.
But then Dax Hendrick roars into Hummingbird Hollow on a noisy, crippled Harley, stinking up the air and chasing away her beloved hummingbirds. One look into the intruder’s eyes and her heart sinks. He’s “The One.” She’d been right about knowing, but wrong about something far more important: She will never love this man!

HEARTS ON THE HARBOR BY ROBIN BAYNE

Cara Peyton is content with her life, her trendy Baltimore bookshop is perfect for her. But when her ex turns up to remodel the store, asking for a second chance, she’s torn and unsure about risking her heart again. Can he convince her to trust him, and God, before the job is finished?

 

HIS VALENTINE PROMISE BY DORA HIERS

Another Valentine’s Day and Quinn Randolph prefers to spend it with her sweet rescue lab. Who needs men and their broken promises? Especially Pierce Karson’s! Years ago, his desertion shattered her. Now he’s trying to steal the property she targeted to expand her florist shop! Pierce only wants to belong…and for Quinn to choose him. His Valentine Promise…

8 Tips in Writing Deep Point of View

image by geralt
image by geralt

Whether you write in first, second, or third person, you can increase intimacy between reader and character by writing in deep point of view* (DPOV).

Tip 1: In DPOV, we see, smell, hear, feel, and taste only what the POV character (POVC) senses. We’re privy to only her thoughts.

Tip 2: DPOV is used in a POVC’s thoughts, not dialogue. The POVC’s actions and the way he experiences his surroundings are written with his POV involved. His actions and thoughts are linear; stimuli precede his reactions.

Compare:

image by geralt
image by geralt

Sam took great pleasure in his meal. He planted a heaping spoonful of corn on his plate after Ann passed him the creamed corn. He glanced up from shoveling in corn. Ann stared at him, smiling.

Ann passed Sam the creamed corn. He planted a heaping spoonful on his plate. What a feast. He sampled the mashed potatoes. Nothing could be creamier. He sank his teeth into a fried chicken breast, and closed his eyes. To die for. If only mom could cook like this. He glanced up from shoveling in corn. Ann stared at him, smiling.

Tip 3: DPOV isn’t a flow of internal monologue or using italicized direct thoughts.

Tip 4: You rarely say to yourself, I:

  • thought
  • felt
  • wondered
  • realized
  • decided
  • wished
  • hoped

So, DPOV doesn’t state these. POVCs merely do them.

Compare:

He thought Mary was mean. He wished she’d leave town, but he realized she wouldn’t. He’d avoid the battle-ax, he decided.

Mary was mean. If only she’d leave town. No way would that happen. From now on, he’d avoid the battle-ax.

Tip 5: Don’t name a feeling. Instead, give thoughts, actions, and behaviors that accompany the feeling.

Compare:

portrait-53899_1280Bob felt sad his granddaughter didn’t want to visit anymore

Bob ran his fingers over Nell’s sweet face in her school photo. Why’d she have to grow up and prefer her friends to riding the tractor with Grandpa? He pulled off his glasses and wiped away the mist that had formed on the lenses.

Tip 6: Don’t use in or with to name feelings or attitudes.

Compare:

Maud spoke harshly to the child. Jack looked at Maud with disdain.

Maud spoke harshly to the child. Jack drew himself to his full height. He arched his eyebrow, curled his upper lip, and glared at Maud. Was she getting his message? His dog had more tact than the shrew.

Tip 7: Don’t state that POVCs are using their senses.

Compare:

I heard the stairs creak. I turned toward the staircase.

The stairs creaked. I turned toward the staircase.

Tip 8: Avoid made, caused, and gave as a way of telling.

Compare:

image by Alexas_Fotos
image by Alexas_Fotos

I tiptoed into Carl’s empty bedroom. Suddenly his alarm clock sounded and made me jump. I thought I’d set off the security system.

I tiptoed into Carl’s empty bedroom. Brrring! Brrring! I jumped and spun in every direction. Had I set off the security system? No. Too close. I clamped my hand on Carl’s alarm clock.

For more examples of DPOV click the link.

Write in deep point of view & create intimacy between reader & character. Click to tweet.

What keeps you from writing in DPOV?

* I recommend Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View by Elizabeth Nelson.