Monday, October 1, 2012
Light my fire!
Here’s what it IS about, a sentence from a novel that shall remain anonymous.
"He started to light the fire.”
He started? Did he scrape a match on sandpaper? Flick his Bic? Rub two sticks together? Or was the main character feeling amorous?
Of course I understood the action, given the context of the sentence within the paragraph and chapter. Because it had been raining, I even knew there might be damp kindling involved, but the opportunity to be specific about the main character’s action was lost. I didn’t “see” him light the fire or smell the smoke generated by the blaze.
Was it really that important? I thought so. Lighting a fire at that specific time was the first hint of things to come, so the foreshadowing was weakened by the lack of description. The author focused on the timing of the event rather than the action, but greedy me, I wanted both.
Reading that phrase and wanting more reminded me to strive to be specific, even when describing my character's smallest actions.
Anyone gotta match?
by Janet Fogg
Janet is the author of Soliloquy, an award-winning historical romance, and co-author of the military history bestseller, Fogg in the Cockpit.