Tuesday, August 10, 2010

It's a Jungle Out There - Take Notes

Some people think creative writing is look out the window and writing down what you see.  It's not really, unless you're writing about a person looking out the window and writing down what she sees. 

Writers need to go outdoors to get it right sometimes.  Sometimes creative writing is about making it real instead of making it up from... thin... air.

Plein Aire artists go outside and paint what they see while they are seeing it.

The 1948 oil painting at left is of a Georgia graveyard at night by George Ayers Cress, in its original frame.  Although Cress lived in Georgia at the time of the painting, he soon moved to Chattanooga Tenn and made a name for himself as an artist there.

I was lucky enough to snag this painting at an auction a few years ago.  I collect ghosts, so this is a perfect piece for the guest room. Sweet dreams and all that.

What I like most about the painting is that George Cress was in that graveyard at night to capture the moonlight through the trees, the tilt of the old gravestone, the moss drapery of the Southern tree limbs.

He found his own way of seeing it, his own viewpoint for painting it, his own limit of view for framing it... and those incredible night colors are all his.  Painters have voice, too.  

My favorite writing reminds me from time to time that the world of the story is real.  Good writers lean how to do that by getting out in the world and touching it. Listening to it.  I was writing about two young girls who live in a parked car summer nights.  It's their perpetual slumber party.  They watch the world happen from that car all summer long. 

But until I was looking at George's 1948 oil painting of a graveyard today, I'd forgotten that one of the doors on that old car squeaks, like a cat screeching, when you open and close it.

Sometimes writers need to get out in the jungle more often and touch stuff.

4 comments:

Clara Gillow Clark said...

Love this post and the reminder of how powerful adding a sense other than sight can be and how startling the sound was for me of that car door creaking open.

Medeia Sharif said...

It is important for writers to live life and experience things first hand. It adds dimension to what they're writing.

Tess said...

Great post, Randy. We have no fodder if we stay in our caves all day... it is our experiences that fuel the realism in our work.

And, wanted to let you know I linked your trailer in a post I am doing on how to make trailers (Monday). The homework is to review four different length and style trailers and decide which they want to make. Hope you don't mind! Yours is a great example of a short trailer that still gets the point across.

The Book Chook said...

Well said!