THE D WORD METHOD OF DARN GOOD DESCRIPTION

My C Word Method of Character Creation is responsible for this! Couldn’t help myself!

I’m well into this semester’s teaching at the University of Queensland and am drowning in a whole lot of adjective-plagued setting description that is driving me to distraction. As writers we need to ground the reader in the world of the story by describing the setting.

But how can we do this without just piling on the adjectives?

Here is another lesson from screenplay – SHOW US WITH ACTION or in this case DOING WORDS! (D word!)

Booth by Karen Joy Fowler

I’ve recently finished reading Booth by Karen Joy Fowler, one of my favourite writers, as much for the strength of her prose as the interesting topics she chooses and the compelling nature of her stories. Here is a random sample of setting description from Booth.

Paragraph from Booth

Yes, a couple of adjectives, but mostly Fowler shows us what people are DOING. Even the plants are DOING something. The sun is shining. The tulip trees are coming into bloom.

Children chase each other. Everyone and everything is moving. Verbs abound! By doing this the author creates a scene that we can imagine, that we “see” with our mind’s eye, and a setting that feels real and contemporary, even though this scene is set in the 1860s.

She shows rather than tells us what is in the park. She could have just said: He went to the park and there were green trees, and it was a sunny day. It was pretty busy with people.

But she didn’t. Thank goodness!

Photo by Leah Kelley on Pexels.com

THE D WORD METHOD OF DESCRIPTION

Good DESCRIPTION is made up of specific sensory DETAILS and DOING WORDS.

PROMPT 1

Remember a place you’ve been to – a park like this, or a beach, or a forest, or a party, or a classroom, or a shopping centre – and write a paragraph of DESCRIPTION using primarily DOING WORDS. See if you can avoid using any adjectives or adverbs at all. Instead create a list almost of people, animals and plants in ACTION.

Add people DOING things 🙂

Set a timer for five minutes and go for it!

PROMPT 2

Now do the same thing but for a place you’re unfamiliar with, another planet, or some kind of fantasy world, or futuristic or historical setting. Practice world building through describing actions.

Photo by Nothing Ahead on Pexels.com

Set your timer and write like the wind!

SETTING IN STORIES

Whenever you read, look for examples of how writers you admire establish setting in their stories. Look for the verbs. Look for specific details and nouns. When you’ve found a great passage, use it as inspiration to practice writing something similar.

Thank you Karen Joy Fowler for being an inspiration and a joy to read. 

Good luck with your writing projects. Hope the D word method helps!

Let me know how you go with your prompts.

Lots of love

Edwina xx

DISTRIBUTING YOUR BOOKS!

Get your book on the shelves!

Unless you have a trade publisher, or even if you do but they are overseas and don’t distribute within your country, you need to know about how to get your books into stores and online book sales platforms like Booktopia and the bookdepository.

 Although I have published several books, none of these has had book store distribution within Australia. Thrill Seekers and In the Dark of Night were published by Ransom a small press in the UK who, although they distributed to schools here and in other English speaking countries, had no bookstore presence at all here in Oz. Ten years ago, I reached out myself and had Thrill Seekers stocked in about ten stores in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. You can do this by selling on consignment. Basically this means the bookstores agree to stock your books but only pay if you sell any. You are then responsible for following up on any sales and collecting unsold stock at your own expense.

Bjelke Blues was published by a small independent press here in Brisbane, AndAlso Books. They do their own distribution to stores within Brisbane and a few others across the regional centres. But that’s where it stops.

Almost all writers want their books on bookstore shelves so they can reach as many people as possible, but this can only be accomplished by employing a distribution company who has connections with booksellers throughout the country. For independent publishers, it was almost impossible to have your book distributed by one of these companies. It just wasn’t worth the distributors’ time. I tried going with Amazon, especially now they offer Print on Demand within Australia, but let’s just say that this was not working. At all. Be warned. Books were sold, but Amazon had no record of those sales, nor did they pay me.

AVAILABLE IN BOOK STORES SOON!

However, now, thanks to the Australian Society of Authors (ASA), who saw the growing numbers of writers self-publishing, we now have access to a distribution service. I’ve just signed up to have my Guide Through Grief distributed through this system. It’s not cheap. The distributor takes up to 70% of the RRP – with a large chunk of that going to the bookstore. And you need to pay the ASA an administration fee of $75 on top of that, so you need to make sure it will be financially viable.

But at least your books a chance to be on bookstore shelves and online, making it easy for people who would just LOVE your book, to find it. 

I deliberated for a long time about whether to take this financial gamble just to have my books in stores. But for me it all came down to my first wish when I began writing – to see my work on bookstore shelves. I want my book to reach as many people in need as possible. And getting distribution is part of that equation.

Why do I want my books to reach as many people as possible?  Because I want to connect with others, and help them in their darkest times.

Why do I want to connect or help them? Because books helped me when I most needed it.

So do check out the ASA distribution service or do your best to get word our about your work to make sure your books see the light of day. You worked long and hard to create that book, the work doesn’t stop there. Get behind it, find or create your own distribution network. Let people know your book is out there and how to find it.

The dream is not just writing the book, it includes the book being read.

GOOD LUCK!

Let me know how you go. How do you distribute your books?

Lots of love

Edwina xx