Thursday, April 6, 2017

Fire Up Your Description by Jessica Kate | Guest Post

Want to know a secret? In my last manuscript, trying to get me to write much in the way of description was like trying to convince me to clean my car. Not gonna happen.

I’d much rather spend my time writing some dramatic action or dialogue in my latest scene. I want to see people throwing phones or stealing kisses. Who has time for little details, like what the room looks like or what people are wearing?

A compounding factor is the fact I’m an Australian author writing for an American audience, so describing things I’ve never seen can be tricky.

But, in my latest work-in-progress, I’ve never enjoyed writing description so much. The difference? I’m writing about where I grew up as a teenager: I brought my American characters to a remote Australian dairy farm.

Choosing a unique part of your childhood - whether it’s a place, time, or subculture - can give your story an extra oomph for several reasons:
  • You understand it, and the emotions associated with it, like no one else. And if it’s from your childhood or teenage years, those emotions are probably amplified. Rural Australia, for me, means harsh beauty, working as a team with my family, and people who know how to persevere through tough circumstances. Others may see only the isolation, obesity and suicide problems, while another may revel in the sense of freedom and the untamed landscape. But you, and your unique perspective, can make your view on this place/time/subculture really come to life.
  • A unique setting is interesting. One of the many reasons why I love Deeanne Gist’s historical fiction, is because she chooses times in history that aren’t often featured in other books. In her books, I always get a fascinating story, and I learn something I never knew before. In my romance, I hope to share a part of Australian culture with an international audience, and even share country Australia with our city-dwelling citizens. Even if you didn’t grow up in an unusual place, did any family members have a unique hobby? Vacation destination? Any other quirks? Growing up, when were you most happy, and when were you most sad? Can you use that? 
  • It’s easy! Describing something you know will save you hours of research, and the occasional embarrassing inaccuracy.
So next time you’re struggling with making your setting ‘pop’, examine your own life. What setting had meaning for you? Chances are, you can translate those powerful emotions to create a unique experience for your readers.

Jessica Kate is a twenty-something author who writes Christian contemporary fiction featuring sassy heroines, fun romance and real emotion. Her manuscript Hating Jeremy Walters was a finalist in the 2015 Frasier Awards, and she’s pleased to say that after much effort, it now includes details such as what the characters were wearing. She is currently working on her second book, and is still refusing to clean her car.

She loves connecting with readers and writers through her newsletter (, Facebook (, Instagram (, Twitter ( and her blog (

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