Category Archives: Descriptive Words that Don’t Typically Go Together

Skewing the Context

I like the idea of seeing things in a new light, of skewing the context so that you describe a common activity in an unlikely way.  Here’s one of mine, called “Chair Ride.”

Sitting in the car,

cruise controlling down the road,

my honey and I

kick back like two off-work ditch diggers,

relaxing in these comfy chairs

inches above a streaming road,

careening along in multi-adjustable seats

as if we’re watching tv

and enjoying a pleasant show

about the landscape of Wisconsin

complete with soundtrack

and curving ups and downs.

Best seats in the house.


Your turn to skew a little reality for us all!

Not the Ending You Expected

Sometimes you can tell how a story will end. The boy is going to get the girl. The bad guy is going to lose. Grandpa is well loved, but he’s going to die. The Sheriff retires, but no one will leave him alone. Surely we can do better! So here’s the start of a plot, and you have to come with an ending that absolutely no one would have expected.

Plot: Chuck and Suzanne, two Ph.D. astronomers are on vacation in Arizona, doing a lot of desert hiking. Today at dawn they’ve left their Jeep at a trail head near Canyon De Chelly and expect to take a ten mile circle route that should bring them back to where they started. Half-way along the well-marked trail, Chuck twists his ankle.

Now what?

Moving your Characters Around

It turns out that you, as writer, become a kind of actor, thinking up the “business” needed to make a scene believable and interesting.  It’s one thing to have characters talk to each other, but what are they doing while they talk?  Are they gesturing?  Making a face of some kind?  Picking up an object that suggests something about them or the story?  Tugging on their clothing?  Doing something with their hair?  Fidgeting in some specific way?

These actions work better than attribution.  You can almost always replace, he said with something like:  Jack subtly ran a hand over his belt buckle to make sure his fly was zipped. 

So let’s play around with this.  I will start the dialogue, and you can add a few more lines to keep the scene going.  However, you have to add the “business” instead of attribution.  Here we go….

Yvonne smirked with half-closed eyes.  “Yeah, right.”

“No, really.  That 2007 Taurus is in primo shape and ready to roll.”  Jimbeau smiled to make his one dimple show and dangled a shiny key in front of her face.

(Your turn!)