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blinked sweat from my eyes

2. My heart almost stopped beating
3. His eyes staring in disbelief
4. Wild with fear
5. My stomach turned to ice
6. Frozen to the spot
7. They hurried along the silent alley, as though driven by shuddering
8. Terror held me like a vice-like grip.
9. The torture of my indecision and fear threatened to crush me.
10. Those death-like eyes, devoid of all emotions...
11. Like the cold breath of a grave, her words seemed to cut my very soul.
12. I was strickened into silence.
13. A ghastly whiteness spread over her face.
14. His face a frozen in a glassy stare of horror
15. I stared at the corpse with a grim and shuddering fascination.
16. An uncomfortable premonition of fear pervaded his senses.

Great artists use watercolors, oil paint, or charcoal to make the canvases
they paint glow with color, depth, and hints of mystery. Great writers use
words to do the same thing. Painting word pictures that grip your reader
should be the goal of every writer. The words you choose are what gives
your settings that memorable glow, your characters their depth, and your
plot enough mystery to keep your readers completely involved.
Descriptive passages need powerful verbs, and adjectives that evoke the
Crafting a Descriptive Passage:Place, Joy, Fear, or Grief

A Place: Know the place you are about to describe. If it is not somewhere
you have lived, or visited often, set it up it in your mind. The time of day,
exactly what this place contains - buildings, trees, streets, mountains or
desert: whatever. Put all this together, along with any special relationship
this place has with the characters in your story. Do this, until the scene
becomes as familiar to you as your own home town. Choose words that
will paint vivid details.

Example: Molly crept out the door onto the front porch. Early morning.
A fresh new day. Their old farmhouse sat comfortably on an acre of
grass and gardens, surrounded by trees. Distant traffic sounds filtered
through trees: muted background music. Molly sat on the steps and
took a deep contented breath. Dawn's ragged swirls of mist lingered
among the maple and fir trees. Two robins pecked in the grass looking
for worms. Mom's bed of daffodils glowed yellow in the morning light.
Molly hugged herself, while a nippy breeze poked through her thin
cotton nightie. And then she saw them. They stepped out of the mist-
laden gloom between the trees, one dainty step after the other, across
the grass in front of her. There were three of them: a deer and her two
young fawns. Molly held her breath. Awesome!
Note: Look at the words I use to paint this scene. Powerful verbs &
evocative adjectives. huddled, crept, comfortably, filtered, muted,
contented, ragged swirls, lingered, pecked, nippy, poked, mist
laden gloom, dainty step, awesome.

Joy/Happiness: I think everyone has moments of happiness in their

lives: times when sheer joy is within their grasp. When you need to write
about joy and happiness, dig deep for those times. Let the emotions wash
over you. Alternately, think about how others you know responded when
joy and happiness took them for an emotional whirl. Now, look for words
that paint joy and happiness for the character in your story.

Example: A small square parcel, wrapped in newspaper, sat outside the

front door. Newspaper? Molly frowned. Neat birthday gifts didn't come
wrapped in newspaper. She poked at it with her toe. "Oh well, better get
it over with." She picked up the parcel and ripped off the wrapping.

Underneath, Molly discovered a box with an oh-so-familiar logo. "It can't

be!" Off came the lid. "YES!" Happiness fizzed through her. She might just

explode like a shaken pop can. The card inside said it all. "Happy
birthday, kiddo. Hope the wrapping put you off the scent for a bit. Love
and hugs, Grandpa." The box held a gift certificate for a new computer--
bells and whistles included. The grin stayed on Molly's face all day.

Note: poked, ripped, happiness fizzed, explode, shaken pop can,

kiddo, bells and whistles. These words helped to press Molly's
happiness button.

Fear or Grief: The ability to dredge up past feelings of fear and grief is a
great asset to any writer. If this is too troublesome for you, or you have
been blessed with a trouble free life, I suggest you read books that deal
with fear and sadness. Study how authors choose words that set the
scene. A good writer will pick words that pull at your heart strings, and
make the character's sadness or sorrow absolutely real. Look for signs of
teardrops on the pages of books that do this well. My example fits both

Example - Fear: Midnight, and someone pounded on the front door.

"Mom? Dad?" Where were they? The movie got out at 11. Molly crawled
out of bed and tiptoed downstairs. A shadowy figure showed through the
frosted glass in the front door. Fear nibbled at her making her knees

Mom's voice echoed inside her head. "Remember, don't answer the door
when we're away." Molly crouched, back pressed against the wall, mouth
dry-as-dirt. "Please, go away," her words a choked whisper.

Key Words - pounded, crawled, tiptoed, shadowy, fear nibbled,

wobble, echoed, crouched, ,pressed, dry-as-dirt, choked. Short
dramatic sentences heighten tension. Again, the key words are mostly
powerful and active verbs.

Example - Grief: "It's me, Molly, Sergeant Henderson. I need to talk to

you." Molly let out her breath. Whew! That's a voice she recognized. Door
open in a flash, she looked up at him, shivering. Sadness and pity stared
back at her.

Later. Minutes, hours, days. . .? Molly, raw and red-eyed, whimpered,

"Why did this awful thing happen?" She ached for one last hug. Please. . .

Everyone tiptoed around her. They were all excruciatingly kind, yet she
felt gray inside and out, like zombies on TV.

Anger boiled, shocking her. Mom and Dad had left her behind. "Cruel and
mean!" Loneliness bit to the bone, yet the naked pity in peoples' eyes
made her want to shout, "Go away! I don't want sympathy." They left her
alone, and memories filled the silence. Molly longed for what could never
be. The winter sky, gray as stone, cried with her.

Key Words - flash, shivered, pity, stared, raw, red-eyed,

whimpered, boiled, shocking, mean, bit to the bone, naked pity,
shout, ached, excruciatingly, shout, memories filled the silence,
longed, gray as stone. Look for words that paint the feelings of grief.

Tell the reader how your character feels, and adjectives and adverbs will
pop up all over the place. However, If you show your reader how grief
combines with anger, to affect a person body-and-soul, then active verbs
must be your words of choice. When you find a descriptive passage in a
book that dredges up old memories, makes your heart beat faster, or
gives you a laugh, study the words that were used. Keep a notebook
handy. Make a list of all the wonderful words you read and hear every
day. . When it comes to descriptive or emotional passages, tap into your
inner self, and don't be afraid to let it all hang out.