Thursday, September 05, 2013

Making the Ordinary Extraordinary - Laura J. Davis

Two years ago next month, I attended a going away party for my dear friend Sue. We shared humorous stories, laughed, watched videos, looked at old pictures, wept, ate food and danced. Sue was leaving on a trip to a place I have never been to but long to see one day. Sue wanted a party because she wouldn't be seeing us for a while and she wanted us to remember her not with tears, but with laughter.

There was a mixture of both because you see, this particular "party" was a funeral.

I don't think I've ever been to a funeral where I danced and I know I've never been to a funeral where the pastor put one of those red spongy clown noses on  during his sermon. In fact, everything about this funeral broke the mould of what I have come to know and expect about funerals. But it wasn't about proper funeral etiquette, it was about the person we were honouring. You see Sue had a big personality that enveloped everyone she met. She had an outrageous sense of humour that made you love her immediately. She found the funny in everything and red clown noses were just one of those "funny" things.

So, what does this have to do with writing, you ask? Everything! When you are writing a scene that is about something ordinary - like for example - a funeral - step out of the box of the expected and twist it into something unexpected. Surprise your reader. Shock them! Give them the extraordinary.

We have a slew of events that take place in our lives where we know what is "supposed" to happen next. From graduations to weddings to funerals - there is a certain expectation of order or as I stated before "etiquette". Fortunately, as a writer you can change things and make your reader sit up and take notice. If I had written a funeral scene into a story that I'm currently working on, where at the end of the service everyone got up and danced, my readers might balk and say, "That would never happen!" Well, I'm here to say that yes it could, but only if you have clearly defined your character's personality in the first place. It has to be believable. At Sue's funeral no one was in shock at the dancing because we all knew Sue and she would have loved it.

So, create that extraordinary scene of the unexpected, but build up to it with characters that are full of personality and you will have your readers waiting to see what will happen next!

Until Next Time!

1 comment:

Peter Black said...

Great tip Laura. Thanks.
Hmm, my writing could do with that sparkle of the surprise outside-of-the-box element.
The situation and character/s have to be believable, of course, and your example of your friend Sue and her *outlandish* funeral is choice. :)

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