Inhabiting the Prose

author prose tipsby Patricia Bradley, @PTBradley1

Do writers ever stop learning the craft of writing? I don’t think so. Or maybe I’m just a professional student. But at any rate, this month I took a class from Outreach International RWA ( with Alicia Rasley on Active VS Passive Writing. It’s been a fascinating class, and as always she gives her students little nuggets beyond the scope of the lessons.

On the very day I was stuck in a scene, Alicia talked about inhabiting the prose, and how to make your prose sound like your character rather than just flat, unemotional words. She gave us a free-writing exercise to do, and the exercise (adapted from Les Edgerton’s Finding Your Voice) helped me to connect the emotion of the character and scene to the physical action I wanted that character to perform.

The goal is for the writer to anchor her/himself in the character’s perspective of the setting and emotions for the scene.When I finished the exercise, I had some very interesting sentences that I worked into the scene that had given me problems.

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Here’s my example. In this scene, my hero’s daughter has been kidnapped. His wife had been murdered six years ago.

Where are you?

At my house, in the living room.

What do you see right around you?

The planner that belonged to my wife. Equipment to monitor phone calls; white board

What time is it? What is the light like?

8:30. It’s pitch dark outside. I’ve turned all the lights on so that when Lexi comes home, she’ll know I’m here.

What is your body doing?

Pacing. Picking up Lia’s journal.

What do you hear right this moment?

Voices. The house is full of people, everyone except Lexi. She must be so frightened right now.

What do you think that sound is?

Gram in the kitchen talking to Mrs. Baxter, my brother, talking to his tech, Maggie is the only one not saying anything. She is strangely quiet.

What do you feel under your feet?

The wooden floor. I see little dents put there by Lexi’s tap shoes.

What do you feel in your hands?

A leather bound journal. Lia’s journal. I gave it to her for Valentines one year.

What do you feel on your face?

My hand, scrubbing it at times

What do you feel in your heart?

Fear. What if I don’t get Lexi back?

What do you smell?

Another pot of coffee brewing. Will need it for the coming hours.

What do you taste in your mouth?

Soured coffee.

Who is with you?

My brother. He’s pulled the white board in my office into the LR and is studying a printout of my cases. Maggie’s here beside me. Gram is in the kitchen with Mrs. Baxter.

What do you hope will happen?

That the door will open and Lexi will come running through it.

What do you fear will happen?

That she will never run through it again.

Once I did this exercise, it was much easier to visualize the scene and write it—one that I am very proud of, by the way.

I hope this exercise will help you keep your writing fresh. Many thanks to Alicia Rasley and especially to Les Edgerton who encourages the use of his material.


5 Types of Rough Drafts by Michelle Griep

Numbering Your Days with One Word by  Beth K. Vogt

It Only Takes A Spark. . . Or Does It? by Rachel Hauck

Justice Buried

In an effort to get her security consulting business off the ground, Kelsey Allen has been spending a lot of time up in the air, rappelling down buildings and climbing through windows to show business owners their vulnerabilities to thieves. When she is hired to pose as a conservator at the Pink Palace Museum in order to test their security weaknesses after some artifacts go missing, she’s ecstatic. But when her investigative focus turns from theft to murder, Kelsey knows she’s out of her league–and possibly in the cross hairs. When blast-from-the-past Detective Brad Hollister is called in to investigate, Kelsey may find that he’s the biggest security threat yet . . . to her heart.

Patricia Bradley lives in North Mississippi with her rescue kitty Suzy and loves to write suspense with a twist of romance. Her books include the Logan Point series and two Harlequin Heartwarming romances. Justice Delayed, a Memphis Cold Case Novel, is the first book in her next series and it releases January 31, 2017. When she has time, she likes to throw mud on a wheel and see what happens.