“Close Your Eyes and Look Around”

Today, as I drafted a scene in Defiance, I remembered the advice of a writer: “Close your eyes and look around.” Although I don’t remember which visiting author said this, the words stuck with me.

This morning I needed to be inside the hut where my characters sat. In the story, there is a moment that Techa believes she is being attacked. In a split second, she takes in her surroundings, pivoting a full 360 degrees. As I started to describe what she saw, I had to imagine being inside that hut myself. I had to see the front and back flaps open. The front provided a full view of the White Sea. The back flap revealed endless sand. The inside of the hut reminds me of the recreated tent I saw in a Philadelphia exhibit on Atilla the Hun; however, it is high tech. To the left of the front flap is the radio hook up and metal-electrical work station. Past the back flap continuing to the left is the makeshift kitchen. In the center is a main frame poll with a high top table and stools. While I am still flushing out the finer details, this visual has helped me to begin establishing the scene and movement of my characters. I truly had to place myself in Techa’s position and imagine myself spinning.

Although I don’t know how long ago the advice “close your eyes and look around” had been shared with me, I do know I remembered it at the right time.

Even though we are nearing the end of the school year, and my students have already explored expanded moments, vivid language, imagery, and other tips on developing the details in a piece of writing, I am going to share this additional tip in a mini-lesson before June. Next year I will be sure to include it earlier to help my students develop their creative writing.

Now that I have this tip in mind, I am excited to revise some of my other scenes such as an escape through a hovercraftway tunnel, the navigation deck on Shaban’s craft, and the committee meeting room.

This also has me thinking about my characters. Although I have not created character sketches, I do have notes on each character. I should return to those. While I have a clearer vision of Techa’s personality, I should review her physical features as well.

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