Ramona Richards started making
stuff up at three, writing it down
at seven, and selling it at eighteen. She’s been annoying editors ever
since, which is probably why she became one. Twenty-five years later,
she’s edited more than 350 publications, including novels, CD-ROMs,
magazines, non-fiction, children’s books, Bibles, and study guides.
Ramona has worked with such publishers as Thomas Nelson, Barbour,
Howard, Harlequin, Ideals, and many others. The author of eight books,
she’s now the fiction editor for Abingdon Press. An avid live music
fan, Ramona loves living in the ongoing street party that is Nashville.
the lyrics of his iconic “Annie’s Song,” John Denver tells his love
that she fills his senses, then compares her love to experiencing
different but lovely landscapes—a mountain, a seashore, a walk through
a rain shower. Romantic . . . but what exactly does any of that really
mean? How can love be like a forest, a storm, or an ocean?
Well, it depends on who’s doing
the talking. Let’s take, for instance, two different versions of that
stroll through falling water.
rain drummed on my hunched shoulders, splashing my face and seeping
deep through my already sodden clothes. I pulled my coat tighter around
me, even though it was useless against the cold. My muscles ached as I
dodged oil-laced puddles and thick streams that rushed into a storm
drain. The pounding deluge released the stench of grease and decay,
which emerged from the grate like a rising fog. “Oh, dear Lord,” I
moaned. “Will this night never end?”
rain danced on my shoulders, splashing my face with refreshing droplets
that tickled my skin. I grinned, straightening my back as I hopped over
puddles. Rainbows ebbed and flowed on their surfaces, caused by the oil
freshly washed from the streets. The curbs overflowed with joyous
streams pouring into drains with the sound of a spring waterfall. At
the edge of the sidewalk, the first daffodils bowed and curtsied in the
wind, a reminder of the changing season. “Thank you, Lord,” I said,
“for the reminder that sun always follows the rain.”
romantic in us (and most writers are terribly romantic at heart) loves
to think that when comparing love to a walk in the rain, John meant
something like the second one. But remember, John’s marriage to Annie
didn’t last . . .
is what we mean when we
say, “Show, don’t tell.”
Engage Our Senses
Make your readers recall the
scents of cinnamon and chocolate on Christmas morning. Help them see
the crystallized water on an icy cold glass or how perfectly a patch of
ferns glistens on a moonlit night. I grew up in the South and never
once thought of our ground as “soft,” but a guy from the heart of Texas
sure did. What does your heroine hear, smell, feel as she’s walking
home from that date gone bad? How does that 600-count Egyptian cotton
sheet feel on her skin the morning after her heart is broken?
Why does that last one matter?
Why describe the feel of a sheet when her heart is screaming in pain?
Because it pulls the reader into
her mind, her body, her experience. How can anything in the world be
soft like that sheet, warm as a comforting quilt, or sweet as a robin’s
song outside a window when the pain is crushing her soul?
Because it is. Because her
senses won’t let her hide in her pain forever. They are part of the
picture; they are part of her hope. And, handled correctly, they are a
vital part of your work that will pull readers into your world and keep
them turning the pages.