Hi Dear friends!

I hope we did not bore you to death yet because today’s post is really interesting if you plan to write a book one day or are just curious about the backstage work of writing!

Where Jay gives some writing tricks that could inspire more than one!


Link to previous post ->HERE

So tell us how do you write a small town or a campus so vividly? What’s the trick to make us see and smell the scenes? Looking at pictures? Walking on said scene and take notes for later?

I’m actually not a note-taker anymore. I used to when I was studying in school, but now it’s all in my memory. I forget things that actually happen, but I never forget things that occur in my mind when thinking about a story or plot. I’m weird, but we’ve already covered that above. It starts in the outline. When I organize a chapter, I divide it into scenes. Each scene has a bulleted list of actions to occur, and then I think about all 5 senses and choose a couple to focus on for that scene. By the time the outline is done, I am ready to write a chapter, so I read the details and then pull the picture together in my head before I actually let the words hit the paper. Often there’s a theme, so with Amalia, it’s all about the color red. Whether it’s the sweater she’s caught wearing, the blood from an accident, love she’s searching for… and I try to pull ways to tie it together from chapter to chapter. What I’ve found makes me feel successful is coming up with a few pieces of reality or tangible things people have experienced and then altering them to match up with the personality of the character. For Janet, the candy she constantly sucked in her mouth became her downfall. It had to appear several times, just like in my first book, Watching Glass Shatter, the pearls Olivia wears around her neck were prominent. Repeating a few key phrases slightly altered keeps it front and center for a reader (at least for me, it does), and then when the climax happens, our memories pull it all together and create a much more vivid scene in our head. I try not to over-describe scenes too much with specificity, but instead with generalization so that each reader can still apply their unique experiences to it in their heads as they are reading. People’s faces have a few features described, but never fully. Rooms have a few elements of tangible description, but not enough where it’s picture perfect clear. I think of it as creating the boundaries to enable a reader to fill in the imagination. I always find it amusing when a review says that my writing is too detailed in terms of not leaving anything to the reader’s choice… it’s exactly what I ‘try’ never to do!


In Father Figure you wrote from female POV. You are a man and yet you wrote very well two completely different women. You had the undecided and somewhat rebellious teenager down to a peg. The same could be said for the sweet innocent yet strong Amalia. How do you do it? How do you wear someone else’s skin for weeks and succeed to stay true to a character that is so different from yourself? How do you manage to always make them speak with their own distinctive voice?

Way too many compliments, but thank you! 😊 A writer must know what makes a person tick before they can write about them. I’m an observer. In conversations, I hardly ever talk. I nod, shrug, throw out a few acknowledgments or concerned facial expressions, but I’m not verbal because I’m studying people. At meals with other people, I’m ALWAYS the first to finish. It’s not because I’m hungry or have bad manners… it’s because I am not talking, so I keep by shoveling fork fulls of food into my mouth. Others do the talking, which means I can observe. It helps being shy, non-confrontational and always wanting people to like me or agree with me… gives me more time to figure out how people behave, act, or think. Sometimes it makes my dialog a little too formal or stilted because I jump over the in-between moments and go right to the action, but I’m working on it!

Once I have mannerisms, style of speaking, analytical approaches and emotions down for each character, I can explore “who are they similar to that I have met?” That’s where I can assign some of the detail, so I can create a real person to identify with. Janet in Father Figure came from no one I know, but if someone is evil, they have to do physical things that show it rather than just their words. Everything she did had a negative noise attached to it… the sucking candy, the banging of hands on the wall, the way she walked, how a door always seemed to slam or creak in her presence, or coffee was spilled, etc. We’ve seen some form of her in characters like Kathy Bates from Misery, the grandmother in Flowers in the Attic, etc. As for the voice, that’s a bit more mechanical, and I need to work on it. I layer / fix that during editing, as it’s not always natural for me during the initial drafts. But when I’m going back to re-read and edit, I see patterns emerging and then alter dialog to create the voice. Janet always referred to her daughter with something extra, e.g. “girl” or “child.” Little additions like that in just 1 character make it distinct. Riley had the extended sound on certain letters. Carter often spoke in non-full sentences, starting with a verb rather than a subject. Brianna had to always use words that had double meanings to keep hinting at her dual options or paths. I’d love to be the writer who can do that naturally during a first draft, but for me at this point in my career, it’s fixed during editing.

That’s it for today! Come back tomorrow for some more 😀



Thanks for reading!


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  1. Great questions and great answers. Jay, you are such a planner!! It works really well for you. Each of the characters in FF definitely had a distinct personality and I enjoyed the recurrent themes.

  2. This is fascinating! Once again, awesome questions Sophie. And I was also wondering how Jay, as a guy, was able to write in the voices of two female characters so convincingly. Thank you for satisfying my curiosity Jay. And the way you described creating Janet gave me the shivers.

    1. Thank you Kim! And it has been one of my most pressing questions! I am always fascinated when someone can write and think like someone so different!