Think about this: all the characters you write about have birthdays and perhaps even favorite holidays. How will you describe a celebration to your readers? Who is your protagonist? How are they feeling? Are they celebrating wholeheartedly? Or is something bothering them? Do they hate holidays? If so, why? Set the scene for your reader. What is your protagonist hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling? Write this scene.
Scenes often arise from my own memories. Because of that, I keep a written file I call quick memories – events that take place in my life that could help combat writer’s block by helping me envision a setting for my characters.
Need an example? Read on…
The Last, Best Birthday by Theresa Duncan
The sound of Blodgett Creek drifted up from the canyon floor. The meal would be simple: hamburgers and hot dogs cooked on the wood-fired, rock grill on our lower deck, chips, watermelon, and Snickers Ice Cream Bars. (I am not a huge fan of cake.) The mid-80’s would be the perfect weather; the shifting shade of the Ponderosa pines gave just enough shadow and coolness to the party.
I sat on the chaise, surrounded by family. My daughters busied themselves, bringing out the food and the fixings, making sure my drink was never empty and was always ice cold.
We heard the sub-woofers from far away. My son made his way up the road to the house, my oldest granddaughter in tow. All my family would be here, my son, my two daughters, and my two granddaughters, which made this birthday celebration the most special of all. Laughter punctuated the evening. That party was the last time my family was together for my birthday. Though the fare was simple and the party small, these memories are some of the sweetest I enjoy every year.
Bare bones stories like this can be the start of some of the greatest writing we do. We can build stories from events like this with our characters. For example, I might add a private conversation I had with my son about his future. Or I might talk about seeing one daughter’s sadness as her smiles were overshadowed by a crumbling relationship. These types of memories can be incorporated in memoir and expanded, or they can serve as a setting or catalyst for your fictional characters.
What will you write? Share a short memory with our group!
Happy writing… ~T
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