I recently concluded reading 18 books. I completed them in about 2 months. I’m that kind of reader, which is why I don’t do it often. Prior to this stint, it had been years since I’d read anything other than nonfiction. That’s one of the things “they” say you should do though as a writer. Read. And while I don’t stick to regular reading as a hard and fast rule, I do understand the benefits. I just simply can’t afford to do it often because fiction is like speed for me. I have a hard time stopping/moderating it. Hence, how I have 4 kids and still managed to fit in 18 books in a 60 day period.
Once I’d finished my 18 books, I got back to editing and writing my own stuff. After a few days I began to be cognizant of how those 18 books had affected my writing.
My scenes started to move more.
That’s what I had learned without acknowledging it. See, I’m a dialogue kind of gal. At least I thought I was. I just want to have my characters converse, and I feel like when you’re having a conversation, you don’t really notice the things around you, so why should I acknowledge them as a writer? But while reading I noticed and appreciated subtle movements in a scene. Like wiping your hands off on your jeans while explaining why you went out to that dark alley by yourself. Like adjusting your shoe before taking off after a bad guy. Like licking your finger while you make a peanut butter sandwich and chat about your new job. Like adjusting the necklace you always wear so the pendant hangs just right because it always ends up off-kilter. Like flexing your calves on the edge of coffee table while you sit and admit something uncomfortable. Like dropping your cell phone while trying to get it out of your purse and frantically searching for damage WHILE talking to someone.
Funny how we do things like this and rarely notice. Funny how they make such a big difference in bringing the reader into a scene. Sometimes the most insignificant things a character DOES speaks more about who they are and how they feel than saying/describing such things outright.
When a character is DOING something, even the thing no one would ever consciously notice, the scene moves. Moving scenes are alive scenes. The characters involved become… more human. More real.