Aphelion Issue 233, Volume 22
October 2018
 
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P&E Top Ten P&E Top Ten
First off, Atlanta has been in the grips of Dragon*Con this weekend, so that's 100,000 people attending their favorite convention of the year. Some of my favorite writers are there. Two of my favorite bands are there. Dozens, if not hundreds, of my friends are there. I know they're having a wonderful time! One day, I might go myself, but that's a way bigger crowd than I can deal with. I can barely manage the local stores during the holiday shopping season, LOL!

August was a hot month down here in Georgia. Overly humid too, even for here. Our household dehumidifier has a two-gallon container bucket--that sucker had to be emptied every two or three hours. Usually, it gets full every six hours or so. That's a lot of water in the air. I know that I should just set the machine up to pump the condensation outside--it has a pump with a hook-up for a hose built in--but that would mean drilling a hole in the floor and running the hose under the house, then through a brick wall to reach the outside. This house has an uncomfortably tiny crawlspace under it, too. I'm reluctant to go in there because it's such a cramped space.

So if I wanted to write a story about someone crawling around in a cramped, hot, humid location--well, I've got that experience going for me. (Grin)

That's another example of taking experiences from your own life and using them in your writing. My imagination can turn that crawlspace into a tunnel in a cave, or a collapsed building, or part of a prison's escape route, or a thousand other things. I know about the spiders and their webs, lizards, snakes, bats, mold and mildew, the darkness, the claustrophobia, the pain of banging your head on the roof, the fear of being trapped in a space too small to back out of, and so on. But there is always light at the end of this particular tunnel, LOL!

Your life is greater than the sum total of its parts, your experiences, your observations, and your sensory impressions. All of that goes into your toolbox, so to speak, to add more flavor to your writing. Everything is grist for your mill. When you write a story, you always have to consider how to insure your reader becomes immersed in the tale. Not only the sights and sounds, but the smells and the feel of touching something on your stage. That's part of your set dressing. That stuff is just as important as the costumes and props your characters use. Every single detail like that you add to a story makes it easier for your readers to invest in your characters and plot. They bring more life into the narrative. They bring your reader into the story on a more personal level. That's the difference between a good story and a great story--or at least, one of the differences. Let's see how this would work, shall we?

Example one:

The prisoner crawled through the escape tunnel he'd found underneath the drain cover of his cell. It was a tight squeeze. "Ouch," he said as he bumped his head on the roof of the cramped crawlspace. "The roof is getting lower-" he said. "I hope I don't get stuck."

Example two:

"It feels like I've been crawling on my belly for hours," said Prince Rupert. It's only been half an hour since I found the drain cover in my cell was loose enough to pry up, he thought. The roof is getting lower, too. The rough-cut surface of the tunnel's roof had long since ripped jagged tears in the prince's tunic along his back and shoulders, and his leggings were likewise shredded from the rocky floor. Age-old grime caked his clothes now. Every movement made clouds of choking dust cloud the dank air of the cramped crawlspace. The former prisoner sneezed, almost gagging in the damp air. "There must be half a century's worth of mold, and who knows what else, growing down here," he whispered to himself. He could feel rivulets of slowly drying blood dripping off his back and knees onto the damp stone of the tunnel. Cobwebs and spiders lay in wait along every hard-won yard of the escape tunnel. "Ouch," he said as he bumped his head on the roof of the cramped crawlspace. "The roof is getting lower still-" he added. "I hope I don't get stuck." Despair and desperation brought a fearful quaver to his whispers. And the darkness went on forever, seemingly unending...

Now, Dear Reader, which example makes you want to keep reading? The more you give your reader, the better they will enjoy your work.

All right, it's about time I shut up and let y'all get to reading the eighth issue of Aphelion of 2018! Enjoy!

Dan


ON THE COVER

Title: VISTA's infrared view of the Orion Nebula

Photo Credit: SO/J. Emerson/VISTA