Search Term Bingo!

If you’re not familiar, popular author and awesome blogger Chuck Wendig does a little ditty known as Search Term Bingo. The deal is thus:

WordPress includes a feature where it tells us what search terms led people to our site. Some of them make perfect sense. Others, however, can get downright silly. So what Chuck does (and what I’ll be doing today) is post the latest search terms and add commentary. Some of these are variations on the same theme, so I’ll be combining them.

So without further ado, here we go:

BIOSHOCK INFINITE FORESHADOWING

Seriously, this is the single most searched-for thing that gets people here, in one way or another. Personally, I’m curious how many of you lovely readers are video game fans, and if you’d like more stuff in that particular direction. I’m also quite pleased with how good the writing has gotten in video games in recent years.

WHOSE LINE IS YOURE A WIZARD HARRY

That would be Rubeus Hagrid: a half-giant and animal lover from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels, who once delivered a baby on a motorcycle. True story, yo.

On that subject, someone asked for a TIELINE OF HARRY POTTER BOOKS

I don’t have a tieline, but here’s a picture of my husband’s tie-hangar. Three guesses who gave him the fish tie~

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USING SCRIVENER

I happen to use Scrivener a lot– it’s probably tied with Microsoft Word for my favorite word processing program. However, if you’re thinking about getting it, I recommend going for NaNoWriMo first: one of the prizes for winning is a heavy discount for the software.

BEATING DEPRESSION

I did write a post on warding off the return of depression, though this isn’t usually the stuff that works when you’re in the depths of it. At a time like that, sometimes you just need to find your corn.

THE HOBBIT ARCHETYPES QUESTION

Bilbo is the Reluctant Hero. Gandalf is the Wise Old Mentor who has to vanish in order for the Reluctant Hero to actually do any heroic stuff. I’ll actually be doing a post on the subject later on this month.

DIY COMMAR

Dammit, how’s you figure out I live in Indiana? Now I’ll never be able to warsh my car in peace!

HAMLET “SEEMS? I KNOW NOT SEEMS” WHAT ACT AND SCENE IS THIS FROM

Act 1, Scene 2. Now let me point you to my dear friend No Fear Shakespeare, who got me through entirely too much of my high school career.

STANDING ST FORK ON THE ROAD

Here you go. This is St. Fork, the made-up patron saint of tableware. He is standing on the road.

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LIFE GIVING ARCHETYPE

That’s usually a Mother archetype, also frequently associated with the moon and water, thanks to the monthly nature of moon phases, tides, and menstruation.

Didn’t think I’d actually say it, didja?

31 Day Blogging Challenge: The devil in the details

Last night, my cat George ran off into the house next to mine and wouldn’t come back, so I grabbed my flip-flops and umbrella, went over there, and got him. 

Boring, isn’t it?

Technically the above is a story, but it’s a skeleton. There’s nothing to grab onto. So let’s add some detail– or rather, let’s add the kind of detail that often gets sprinkled in by novice writers.

On Monday night, my cat George, who’s black and white with yellow eyes, ran into the abandoned house next to the duplex where I live. He wouldn’t come back when I called, so I grabbed my white flip-flops and my white-and-blue umbrella, went out into the rain, and got him off the porch of the creepy old house.

These are all technically details, but they don’t actually tell you anything. I’ve noticed all too often that writers get caught up with menial details and forgetting about significant ones. This story isn’t changed just because you know the color of my flip-flops or the color of George’s eyes. It doesn’t help you to know my shoe size or the day of the week.

When we talk about details, what we’re asking for are significant details: details that change the context, that add things to the story on multiple levels.

I could tell you how my feet slipped and slid in my flip-flops, and how even the umbrella didn’t do much against the thunderstorm.

I could tell you that it was two in the morning, when the bright paint-jobs of the inhabited houses lost their glamour and the dozens of ancient foreclosed-upon houses seemed to stretch out and open the maws of their boarded up front porches. Or how that night, when I peered at it through the rain on this particular night, I caught a glimmer of light that shouldn’t have been there.

I could tell you that a few weeks ago the scent of rotting meat had wafted over my porch, and upon investigating, a brave neighbor found the mangled body of some small animal in the tall grass– he could no longer tell if it had once been cat, dog or raccoon.

I could tell you that this particular house was frequently home to squatters, and news reports of face-eating “bath-salt zombies” played in my mind as I called in vain for my cat to return.

I could tell you that George is more loyal than most dogs I’ve known– that he follows me around the yard when I garden, and always comes when I call, even if I wander off– and he wouldn’t budge when I called out to him. I could tell you how I found him cowering on the edge of the front porch of the abandoned house, unwilling to venture back into the rain, but unwilling to go deeper inside. Or how, when I touched his damp fur, he stared up at me with big wide eyes and immediately slunk to safety against my ankles.

These are details that add context and mood. They’re less about what the event looked like, and more about how it feels.

Now, this doesn’t exclude describing a thing’s color scheme or the way it looks– but it does invite you to be more judicious about which aspects you choose to describe.

For example, JK Rowling makes a point of describing Harry Potter’s appearance: his mother’s bright green eyes, his father’s unruly black hair, scrawny from his time with the Dursleys, and a lightning-shaped scar from his encounter with Voldemort. Each of those details tells you more about them, and most of them become plot-relevant later on. In fact, most of the details in the Harry Potter series are relevant later on, even if it’s just to a minor character’s subplot.