Guest Bloggers

Details Add Zing

Guest Blogger Lisa Alpine shares tips to spice up your writing.

I encourage you to infuse your writing with detailed imagery, passionate feeling, poetic depth and evocative sensual description. Here are some writing suggestions I use when teaching Spice Up Your Writing at workshops globally.

These writing tips will show you how to weave poetic description into your prose; cultivate the five senses in describing a place or experience; and develop emotional imagery.

1: Pick a scene from an event in your life that you know has a heart or seed of a story only you can write. Now blurt and spew! Messy is okay. You can clean it up later. Sometimes graceful, sometimes awkward, sometimes downright ugly. Tell the story. Understand what is really going on by exploring and uncovering the deeper currents of the river of life.

2: Set the scene. Describe the weather, doors & windows, environment, horizon. God is in the details. What type of tree? What color the sea? Name everything.

3: Sensual awakening using all six senses: smell, sight, taste, sound, touch, & intuition. Don’t ignore the 6th sense –even if it doesn’t make sense—it can lead into the heart of what is really going on.

(See Note from Marlene for links to posts about using the sixth sense and intuition for writing inspiration.)

How do you write about sensual interaction in a real way? It could describe the touch of a baby’s cheek against yours; or the physical sensation of your lover’s weight on you. It might be the reaction to the smell on a bus. By the way—smell is the hardest sense to describe accurately—yet the most evocative.

4: Building tension. Like thunder in the distance, good suspense keeps us hanging on with tension and release, pain and epiphany. Not just emotional content, but placement and description of objects and sensations, even weather descriptions can lead into the deeper places by scene setting and nuance.

A nerve is exposed and it hurts, it zings with sensation—it calls attention to it. Listen to these electrical zings. The story is there in the current lines that jolt you awake.

5: Add emotional qualities. What is interesting about the word feeling is that it covers both the sensual and tactile experiences along with the gamut of emotions.

6: Dig beyond generic descriptions so that your writing comes uniquely alive for readers and immerses them in the story.

Give yourself an hour to work a scene with these suggestions and see if it opens up your writing and captures the essence of what flows underneath the obvious so that your story pops and zings, cries and sings.

Lisa Alpine is a renowned dance teacher, travel writer, and author of Dance Life: Movin’ & Groovin’ Around the Globe, Wild Life: Travel Adventures of a Worldly Woman and Exotic Life: Travel Tales of an Adventurous Woman.

Her award-winning, dynamically delicious stories grace the pages of many anthologies, including Travelers’ Tales Best Travel Writing.

When not wrestling with words, exploring the ecstatic realms of dance, swimming with sea creatures, or waiting for a flight, Lisa divides her time between Mill Valley, California and the Big Island of Hawai’i, where Pele’s lava licks at the edges of her writing retreat.

Note from Marlene:

The Sixth Sense.

Trust Your Intuition for Creative Writing

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