Florida Palm Magazine
published by
July/August, 2002

by Glenda Ivey,
Founder/Past President
Florida Writers Association, Inc.

Don't simply give me words to read. There's not a doubt in my mind that writers must read, as often as they possibly can. I'm well aware of the demands that are put on a published author in this crazy, but passionate field we have chosen. We must write, edit the best we can before turning our work over to a professional editor, find an agent and/or publisher and then the real work begins. Promotion. Yes, that is a tremendous amount of work and leaves little time for reading other people's work. Yet, read we must. Not for relaxation and certainly not to copy another's work, but to learn
more about our own writing.

One thing's for sure, we will finish the last page of any book and say, "Oh, how I'd love to be able to write like that," or  "Darn, I can write that good," and many times, "Geez, I can do better than that!" What makes the difference between what we consider a fantastic book and a lackluster book? My opinion is simple.

Please don't tell me, "Laura is beautiful." Let me decide this for myself. Tell me everything about her physical attributes. Convince me! I want to see Laura, just as if she were standing in the room with me. I want to look at her beauty, admire it, relish in it and most of all, I want to feel it!

The one thing I don't want done to me, as a reader, is for the author to pile all the descriptions into one paragraph. There are two reasons for this, one because it's boring and the other is because I'll forget. Sneak it in, a little here and a little there. In the beginning, spread it out over a few pages, giving me something new about her beauty each time to convince me that Laura is indeed, very beautiful. But don't stop there; keep reminding me as often as you can.

Please don't tell me that "Donald put his coffee cup on the edge of the table." I want to know if it's a coffee table, a worktable, a fancy dining room table or a rickety old wooden table that his grandfather made for his new bride more than seventy years ago. Again, I want to see the type table that coffee cup was placed on.

Here's a perfect opportunity to tell me more about Donald. Is he a perfectionist who positioned his chair squarely in front of the table before sitting down to relax and enjoy his coffee after a harrowing day at the office, or did he jerk the chair from underneath the table, plop down, sitting almost sideways at the table? This alone will tell me a lot about Donald. I will be able to see his mannerisms, feel his frustration, and know that regardless of the type day he has had, he remains the perfectionist, or the unceremonious person, that he has always been. I want to see him sitting down.

Please don't tell me that Margie got dressed in a hurry so she wouldn't be late for her date. I want to know exactly which corners she cut. Did she not choose the dress she really wanted to wear because she didn't have time to press it? Did she pile her hair up and pull a few loose strands casually around her heart-shaped face rather than wear it wistfully brushing her shoulders as she normally did because she didn't have time to shampoo it? Did she put a dab of liquid soap on a washcloth and wash her underarms before spreading a good supply of clear deodorant and spraying a tad more cologne than she usually wore because she didn't have time to take a bath? I want to see Margie getting dressed in a hurry.

So, my fellow authors, please  don't just give me words.