By SPICY, I refer to techniques employed to sprinkle SPICE into prose. What agent desires a drab, ho-hum stinker he/she dangles above the trashcan with tweezers? Agents maneuver to the edges of their seats after opening an enticing query letter and reading the first page of a manuscript written with SPICE. They do not wonder if a publisher will have interest, but rather which lucky publisher gets ‘first read.’ Employ the following five SPICES and boost your story into a creative ‘jump-up and slap-your-pappy’ sizzler for the agent YOU choose to represent your novel.
SPICE #1: IMAGINATION
Allow your readers to use their imagination and they will love you forever. Steer them along on your Planner or Panster story-ride but allow them the freedom of IMAGINATION to fill in the hazy details. If I told you a story this very second and included every single cotton-pickin’ detail right down to the color of Pa Pa’s shoelace aglets, it would be the most boring piece of gobbledygook you never wanted to finish. Allow your reader to form their own unique visuals, naturally making it a more fascinating, and personal read.
SPICE #3: SHOW DON’T TELL
When you complete your story and finish editing, perform a final ‘Find’ for any weak hide-your-head-in shame be, was, were, ad nauseam verbs and replace them with strong, creative action verbs with bulging biceps. Replacing those flaccid flabbies forces your mind to stretch with deeper creativity and pumps up the sentences, and thus the entire story.
Try showing multiple aspects of characterization in one neat package: “Molly plopped into the red stadium seat screaming, “GO CARDS” and sprung back up a nanosecond later shoving two fingers between her lips and cutting loose an 80 dB whistle before hollering, “Beer here!”
We can safely assume Molly likes Cardinal baseball (this fact alone shows extreme intelligence), could safely be called an extrovert, and perhaps a bit on the excitable side. Showing the scene makes it come alive, rather than: “Stadium seats filled the space and concession workers hawked their goods as the ticket holders found their place amongst the crowd.”
No SPICEY visuals = B-O-R-I-N-G.
SPICE #3: METAPHOR –
The agent reading your awesome story becomes mega-excited when he/she knows you strived to find the perfect metaphor. Using a metaphor is the difference between reading a first grader’s printing or feasting your eyes on a renowned artist’s Perfumerie Script Pro calligraphy. Metaphors are THAT vibrant. A correctly placed metaphor conveys a profound mental picture for your reader, a “Who turned on the lights?” enhancement to your prose.
SPICE #4: SIMILE
“I am in love with a simile, and like the tummy fluttering butterflies of new love, I don’t care who knows!” If we write the words “Like or As” and make a comparison between feelings that all, or most of us have experienced, the sentence becomes colorful, relatable, and dressed up with a blast of PIZZAZZ!
Spice #5: TRIPLICATION
Most of us read the German fairy tale “Rumpelstiltskin.” Lisa has THREE days to spin gold for the king, THREE gifts she must give to this dreadful little man with a face for radio, and THREE days to guess his name. I remember “THREE Little Pigs,” and a family of THREE bears taking a walk while some blonde chick scarfed their food, destroyed furniture and slept the rest of the day.
Next time, I’m bringing an alarm clock. But a sentence set in THREE’S sounds balanced to our ears. Authors can use the ‘Rule of Three’s’ technique to slow a sentence for dramatic effect: “I stood in total darkness. Nothing moved. Nothing breathed. Nothing blinked.” Speed the pace: “The birthday party clown created animal shapes from balloons until pushing, shoving, and biting forced him to send the unruly adults into the house.”
Remember: SPICE and a Family of THRICE !!!