Concrete Detail

Erika Hayes, Author – Write like a reader, read like a writer and edit like a beast!

unnamedNo, really, let’s talk about lists.  I have over the last several years compiled lists, lots of lists?  Why?  Lists are a great way to keep track of the ideas, dialogue, descriptions, and settings that I observe on any given day.

As writers, it is important when we hear or observe something that strikes a chord with us that we write it down.  I did a little experiment this weekend and wanted to share the list of things I observed in less than fifteen minutes. If you do this exercise, you are going to find you will observe everyday moments in a different way.  You will see those moments waiting in line, waiting at the doctor’s office or even in a restaurant will make you a better writer.

Let me set the scene.  Dinner already enjoyed, my husband and son, sat across from me.  As what usually happens when my son is home for a visit, the conversation turned to sports.  I enjoy sports but it is not uncommon that they move rapidly over my expertise to discussing button hooks, defensive moves, what would be a good move for the teams and other such things. It’s about this time I begin to lose interest.  When this happens, and there is still half a beer in the stein, I pull out my handy-dandy notebook and begin to write down the things I see or hear all around me.

Imagine the white noise coming into focus here is a list of what I saw:

  • Arms stayed in her lap as she chattered on.
  • Holding his fork aloft poised for attack
  • He attempted a slid of hand to distract her from his real intention
  • His shoulders almost boxy
  • A wide flat nose dominated her face
  • His thinning hair was pushed to the side in an attempt to look fuller
  • Her graying hair was curled tight
  • His skin dark and smooth
  • Her blue eyes stood out against her warm brown skin
  • The smile stretched across his face when she sat down beside him
  • She leaned in and pecked his cheek
  • A tight bun sat atop her head reminding him of a lone ice cream scoop
  • The children pushed the limits of their mother’s patience, the other adults at the table still enjoying half consumed glasses of wine as they walked down memory lane
  • The child now secure in her father’s strong arms
  • She angled her phone in the soft yellow glow.  He smiled unaware of the selfie mode on her camera had been engaged.
  • Her breast filled her blouse, unbuttoned enough to invite welcomed stares.
  • he had the attention at the table, arms flailing about as he retold a story of his glory days
  • His laugh erupted, dominating the already noisy room
  • Reviewing the bill he reached for his wallet, frowned, the gave it over for further inspection to his wife
  • Everyone at the table leaned forward to hear his tale as the noise in the restaurant elevated.
  • She rocked back in laughter
  • Frowning as she nodded forced agreement
  • Her short gait moved surprisingly quick through the restaurant
  • The boy covered his mouth, then forcing a cough
  • Her hands opened, she lay them on the table as she argued her point
  • Her hands making a chopping motion as she emphasized her statements
  • Hair streaked alburn with a low frayed ponytail
  • This wrap covered her head in a long thin ponytail, she frowned and pushed back from the table
  • She had a sway in her walk as she maneuvered through the tight space
  • Her short hair cropped in a masculine styling
  • Her eyes grew large as her hand over her mouth
  • She used the sleeve of her shirt to wipe away the crumbs on the table
  • He reached over the child to pass the cup
  • The murmurs distracted the woman from her date
  • She recoiled when he touched her arm
  • He thought it went unnoticed as his eyes traveled  lustfully over her blouse
  • The familiar tune sent a shiver up her spine, soon it would be her turn
  • The shrill scream of the infant and stone cold stare of his exhausted wife told him it was time to leave
  • Raising one finger toward the sky he called out for his server
  • The oversized treat brought a child-like grin to her face
  • The downturn of her mouth deepened the lines as she explained

Due to the restaurant being so busy, I decided to focus on actions and leave the dialogue for another day.  Although I did get this one little beauty in a fun family scene…

The boy stuck his entire hand into his sister’s drink, the girl’s eyes narrowed as she bellowed to her mother the tattling the horrific crime her brother had committed.  The mother eyed her young son then questioned his reason for such a vile act. It is at this point obvious the young girl has struggled herself with diva personality disorder.   His face emotionless he replied in monotone, “If you think that was bad, you should see what I do to your food.” He winked at his little sister and wiggled his eyebrows.

His mother fought hard and only cracked a small smile much to the horror of her daughter and told the boy to apologize.

“I am sorry” satisfying his mother’s command.  Adding a moment later, “that your food isn’t here yet.” A smirk crossed his face.

Why are lists important?  They are what can feed us when we are looking for the right words!

I am working on compiling my lists into some kind of order for quick reference.  Hang tight for more information on that!

Before I go, I just wanted to say thank you to the people that took time to read all five parts of the “Storymatic” prompted short story – A Lonely Road.  I hope you were able to see the three elements: judge, patient, and clearly regret.   Feel free to share any ideas or thoughts you have for making the story better.



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