Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Walking the Dog: A Writing Lesson

I am a terrible dog parent. Maybe not a terrible one, but a lazy one. I admit it. I don't like to walk my dog. I love her. I really do. I love to pet her and talk to her, and I love it when she sits still. But, alas, she is a dog and sometimes she needs to get out of the house, see the world, and pee on things.

Last week she watched with a look of hope on her sweet face as I pulled the leash from its hook. She tried to hide her excitement. After all, she knows I am known for changing my mind on a whim.

A few minutes later we were on the go. She is a bulldog, squat and wide, and when she walks her backside rolls from side to side. She looks like she is swishing her hips. Very feminine. The front of her is all business. She keeps her head lowered to the ground, sniffing at things that I can't see or smell. I am curious. I want to know what messages those invisible scents are sending her.

Like those scents, picked up by my dog and teasing her forward, so goes good writing.

There are things in my mind that others can't see, hear, taste, smell or generally sense in any way. It is my job to write so that the reader is pulled along and teased forward.

My job as a writer is also to make the invisible...well, visible. If I write, "she lived in a house", the reader has to use her own imagination to fill in the details. This is a lot of work, and she may give up on me before she gets too far. If instead I write, "the house, a small, four-room wooden structure, was once white but is now a naked silver, cleansed of its paint by eighty years of wind and rain. It sits at the base of the foothills, which rise behind it and act as its protector from the howling winds of the Appalachian range"....

You take my meaning.

1 comment:

  1. I take your meaning and I like your descriptions. I too am a dog person, having two that I walk morning and eve - not that I want to be on that schedule, but I am. I would like to be on a better writing schedule, but I am not, but I try. Funny, my blog is called; Jeralyn Writes and yours, Pam Van Dyk Writes. interesting, if you take my meaning :)