Justine: An Exercise Using the Five Senses

Me (left) and Jilly, the most amazing travel partner and tour guide!

Me (left) and Jilly, the most amazing travel partner and tour guide!

As many of you know, I recently wrapped up a fabulous 10-day trip to England (with the wonderful Jilly as my official host and tour guide). The things I saw and did are experiences that I will eventually include in my books, with the goal being more realistic, “show-not-tell” scenes…scenes written well enough, you can imagine yourself there, even as you sit in your bed curled up with the book.

To get to that point, though, a bit of preschool-type exercises in the five senses can be very helpful to ensure your readers get “the full picture.” Using two of the pictures I’ve taken as examples, I’ll come up with some basic descriptions of different “scenes,” hitting on the major images, feelings, etc. that I want to evoke as I describe that scene for a reader.

First is Continue reading

Jilly: How Would You Tell This Story?


Dido Elizabeth Belle and Lady Elizabeth Murray, attributed to Johann Zoffany
(Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

I discovered a fascinating character last weekend.

My mother-in-law came to stay for a few days, so we went to visit the newly refurbished Kenwood House. The place is stunning, with the most gorgeous library ever – a delicate confection of pale blues, pinks and greens, elaborate plasterwork and painted ceilings. If ever there was a setting for a handsome, aristocratic hero to woo his lady love, this is it.

The library had already made my day when I saw the picture of one of the people who originally enjoyed it. Check out the breathtakingly beautiful dark-skinned young woman in the painting. Her name is Dido Belle, and she lived at Kenwood for more than thirty years, from the early 1760s until her marriage in 1793.

Dido was the daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay and an enslaved African woman Continue reading