Writing and reading have taught me a lot of things about myself that I hadn’t thought about.
One of them is that I’m somewhat suggestible. I’m even open to suggestion from myself. Who knew? I wrote a scene in Old Murders Never Die that involved chocolate. I couldn’t finish the scene until I opened a chocolate candy and ate it. I had to let it melt in my mouth, and I had to really think about the taste and how it made me feel. I even studied the color. I tried to tell myself it was all in the name of research, but truth be told, I simply had to have chocolate. I felt better when one of the women who critiques my work told me she had to have chocolate after reading the scene. By the way, the chocolate lifted my mood and brought a smile to my lips.
I read a book not long ago with some comments about popcorn. Do I even need to share that my next taste treat was buttered popcorn?
The Bogey Man Mysteries involve some slang words, phrases and references to music from the 1940s. So what do I do? I turn on forties music when I’m writing a Bogey book. I call it mood music and, again, research, but the fact is that I happen to enjoy it. I grew up in a household where my mother listened to forties music, and she hummed it to herself, too. I can remember my mother singing Three Little Fishies (Itty Bitty Poo) to me when I was a child. That’s not a reflection on my age, although it came out in 1939. Granted, I’m not twenty-five anymore, but I’m not that old. Forget it. You can hear that song and plenty of forties music on YouTube.
But I digress. So, I’ve got mood music and mood food. How much more is there? Fortunately, not much. How about mood pictures? When I’m writing a scene and I want to figure out how a character might react, I try to picture it in my mind. I want to “see” the character’s facial expression, how he or she might use their hands, whether or not they step back in fear, or step forward defiantly. Does the character nervously play with their napkin while they’re talking at a restaurant, or does this person systematically rip it to shreds? What are their movements and how does that relay their state of mind to the reader?
Of course, watching other people (as I’ve mentioned before) can be very enlightening. If I keep talking about that, at some point people will begin to avoid me. “Run for the hills! Here comes Marja, and she’s watching us again.”
As an author, have you ever thought about how much your writing might influence your audience? As a reader, do you find that you have a craving for some kind of food while you’re reading, or does your mood suddenly take a turn you didn’t expect?
While you’re contemplating that, I’m going in search of chocolate. I won’t have to look far, believe me.
Until next time, turn on some good music, find a chocolate bar (to be followed by popcorn), and either sit back with a good book, a good movie, or just spend some time daydreaming.
CLICK HERE to visit Marja McGraw’s website
CLICK HERE for a quick trip to Amazon.com