The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Doggone! It's Time for a Few Lessons

       On Saturday, Radar (our 75-pound baby boy) had his picture taken with Santa at Purina.

       After the photo was taken, I connected the experience with a few writerly things and since I'm always badgering willing to share any tidbits I happen upon, here goes:
  • Don't be afraid to ask for what you want from your writer friends. If you need just a read-through, to see if they connect with the story, ask. If you need help with the ending, request they really hone in on the end. (I was 2nd in line, and saw that the example photos they had on display took in the whole holiday backdrop, with the dog and Santa a bit small. I asked--nicely--if they could get a close-up of Santa and our dog. They were glad to oblige.)
  • Use any trick or prop you have handy in order to get the job done. Do you work well with music? Play it while you write. Do you write better with a cat curled up on your lap? Beg them to take a nap there. Do you write more when there's a candle burning? Light one up. (There was a plastic hamburger they had for dog photos, but the family before us needed it. The little boy kept turning away from the camera, and I said, "I think you need the hamburger for him," and they squeaked it and got the boy's attention.)
(By the way, did you know there is a squeaky toy app for phones, which means you can attract your dog's attention--to the phone--while you're taking the picture? It really works.)

  • Rearrange things if necessary. If you had what you thought was a great beginning--so funny and so sharp--but it doesn't go with the tone of your story, you have to put that lead somewhere else... no matter how much it hurts. If you have some great writing as part of the piece, and it's part of the story but not part of that story, you're going to have to delete it, no matter how horrible it is to subtract from your word count instead of adding to it. (The photos were supposed to be taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus sitting on the bench, with the dog and/or kid in-between them. I said to Mrs. Claus, "I know you're important, Mrs. Claus, but would you mind standing up for a moment so Radar can get onto the bench and sit next to Santa?" She happily obliged.)
        And now, here's the photo:

      And before anyone says anything, I must explain. I know Radar looks like a big, fat barrel-of-a-dog, but he really isn't fat. The camera adds 10 pounds... or didn't you know that?

What have you learned about writing or life from the holidays?