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N is for “Novelsmithing”
Book: Novelsmithing, The Structural Foundation of Plot, Character, and Narration by David Sheppard
My dice roll: 1646 (ebook location out of 2581)
Lesson: Use characteristics of animals to describe a character.
Capture the physical and emotional essence of a person using animal characteristics. An example from James Salter’s Light Years is provided.
I rewrote the example using Xavier from my Existence books.
Xavier is dressed in his tuxedo, having as few predators as an orca, his short hair spiked, the Irish flames crackling. His real concern is keeping life on Earth flowing: preventing wars that eliminate millions of humans, keeping the world habitable, ensuring the safety of plants and animals. The rest is a bonus; it’s part of the disguise. He has a smile that distracts thoughts, one people become so addicted to that they’ll break out of their shells to earn a glance at it. Benches twice his weight, teeth that gleam. He hides his truth in extravagance. He orders the latest cars, only those in limited supply, collecting them to blend in by standing out. He is twenty-four. His dream, one in particular, drowns him, suctioning him to a past he can’t remember— a giant pacific octopus in the abyss of slumber. He lives like a tortoise. As friendly as a manatee. His true purpose is concealed to outsiders like an oyster’s pearl.
This certainly isn’t my usual “voice,” but the lesson was interesting.
What do you think of the description? Has anyone ever described you using animal characteristics? Which animal characteristics might you use to describe Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, or Jimmy Fallon?
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