Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Writing Prompt/Making Sense of Scenes with Jody Feldman

Setting plays an important role in a story. Whichever setting you choose, your character then uses its senses to interact with it during the course of his/her tale.  Today's Guest Blogger will help us to "Make Sense" of a scene in which our story is set through a quick and easy exercise.

I am pleased to have Jody Feldman, author of the fun and challenging mid-grade novel The Gollywhopper Games (set in a toy and game company headquarters!)here today to share some tips on how to bring our own settings to life, as she has done in her own books. 

Making Sense of Scenes by Jody Feldman

I sometimes have confidence issues when it comes to setting, so I often look for unique places that can act as additional characters in my books. In The Gollywhopper Games, it’s the toy and game company headquarters. In The Seventh Level, it’s the assistant principal’s office, the school roof, and various other specific bits inside Lauer Middle School. For a book currently with my agent, it’s urban caves and for my WIP, it’s … well, it’s not time to talk about that yet.

I have one of those minds that needs to see the scenes – like a movie playing behind my eyes – before I can write effectively. So you would think that being able to visualize everything might make setting easy for me. The reality is, because I have this private viewing, I sometime forget my readers can’t see what I’m seeing. Often, I have to go back and layer it all in, from the big picture through sensory detail. Truly, that’s not a bad thing. When I concentrate on setting in isolation, I learn much more about my character when the world comes through his or her point of view. With that in mind, I offer this writing prompt.


            Your character’s science teacher has been talking about the senses in class. It’s a nice day and she’s aching to get outside, so she has everyone in the class pair up, walk anywhere around the school grounds for ten minutes then reassemble to write a couple paragraphs about the outdoors. What does your character write?

            Now, suppose the scene above happened with one difference. The reason the teacher paired up the class? One of each pair is wearing a blindfold, and your character’s the one. What does your character write now?

(from the book jacket)

Lauer Middle School has a super secret society. The Legend. No one knows who is in it. Or how they pull off the spectacular school-wide events.

Seventh grader Travis Raines may be about to find out.
A shiny blue envelope marked FOR YOUR EYES ONLY mysteriously appears in his locker. You have been chosen, the message says.  But if Travis is to become Legendary, he must first solve the mind-bending puzzles and complete each challenge. Then he needs to stay out of trouble. The assistant principal has her eye on him.

So do his parents.

And even if he does all that’s asked of him, Travis still has one question: Is the message really from the Legend?

Jody Feldman never knew she always wanted to become an author (something she now knows.) The Gollywhopper Games (HarperCollins/Greenwillow) was named the 2008 Midwest Bookseller Choice Awards Honor Book and is or has been on 12 state reading lists. Her second book, The Seventh Level (HarperCollins/Greenwillow) debuted four months ago on the Summer 2010 Indie Next List. When she’s not trying to dream up a plot for her next book, you can often find Jody watching football, working puzzles, cooking something new, and trying to find a way out of doing laundry. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri.


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