Sunday, April 14

You had to be there...


My grandson Eamon is three. He has gorgeous blue eyes that are thiiiiissss big and just his entry into the room makes us laugh. The other day, he didn’t eat his Cheerios because they were “yucky.” 
“Yucky?" I said, looking at the barely touched bowl.
“Yes.” (His enunciation puts mine to shame—I talk Hoosier, he speaks East Coast English.) He looked up at me, his lashes sweeping wide and innocent, and continued, “Papaw did it.”
In all probability, you had to be there to understand how funny it actually was, though I’m sure you can appreciate that I had the opportunity to chide my husband for being unable to pour a bowl of cereal.
This makes me realize that sometimes, in order for humor to work, the writer has to make the reader feel as though she’s there. It’s not enough to say This happened and she said that and then he tripped walking through the door and they all died laughing.
In this scene from my WIP (which is going on…and on…and on, but you’ve heard all about that already) my hero and heroine are at the house her elderly mother and her equally elderly aunt share. Reading over it, I think you’ll feel like you’re there. Let me know if you do—or don’t—and share a scene or a snippet with us that puts us there without you having to say, “Hey, my grandson really is funny!”

Carol caught her breath. “It was okay. He was your birth child.”
“He was. He was also much easier than you were. He grew under my heart, which was just such a blessing since we never thought it would happen. But you, Carolina, grew in my heart, and you were—and are—every bit as much a gift as he was.” Dixie grinned back, and Carol recognized herself in the expression. How could that be? “Always remember that, because I am really old, darlin’, and will probably have forgotten it by the time we finish lunch.”
Steven’s hand came to rest on Carol’s shoulder. “Could we eat now?” he asked meekly. “That roast is going to be some delicious.”
“It is.” Jo nodded assertively. “Because I cooked it. Dixie Whitney would have turned it into shoe leather.”
“And if she’d made the cake, you’d have had to spoon it out of the pan instead of slicing it,” Dixie retorted smartly. “Take your seats, children. Carol, ask the blessing, please, and don’t cut it short. The food will still be here if the prayer lasts more than three seconds.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Carol sat where Jo told her to and reached for Steven and Dixie’s hands as she bowed her head.
They discussed politics over the main course—Dixie was a republican, Jo a democrat—religion over dessert (Jo a Baptist, Dixie a Methodist, though they both attended the Church of God around the corner), and the condition of Tennessee’s highway system while Carol and Steven cleared the table. Both of the women oohed and aahed over the contents of the basket Carol brought them. They said they’d serve the bottle of wine to company, but Carol noticed they didn’t offer to open it.

10 comments:

  1. I love that expression - growing in the heart rather than under it. Something we tell bebe when she asks questions. Thanks for sharing, Liz!

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  2. Kristina has it exactly right! Adopted children are such a gift...every bit as much as 'natural' children :-) Lovely post.
    Diane

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  3. Nice job, Liz!

    My scene is from my newly released A Cowboy to Keep:

    The bull, snorting his displeasure, rolled what looked like a rag around under his head and hooves. Bile filled Laney's throat as she realized the thing under the bull’s hooves was her husband.
    "Wyatt!"
    She jumped up, ran, and jabbed the prod into the bull's shoulder, trying to draw his attention onto her. Instead, he bellowed again, pressing his massive head into Wyatt’s back and propelling him across the dusty corral, creating a blinding cloud of dirt.
    Laney ran around to the front of the bull. "Come and get me, you S.O.B."
    For a moment, seventy-five considered her, his eyes narrow and mean. Skin on fire, Laney faced him, eyeball to eyeball. She stood motionless, holding the hot-shot like a lance, daring him to come for her. Time stood still as they faced off. She could smell her own fear over the manure on her hands and knees as the Angus mulled over his options. He pawed with both front hooves and tossed his head. Red slobber flew through the air.
    Blood. Wyatt’s blood. Oh, God.
    Laney tensed, ready to jump away. Just as she thought the Angus would come for her, Wyatt moaned. Like a child with a toy car, the bull dropped his head and shoved the man into the rail fence. The logs shook as Wyatt’s body slammed into them.

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  4. Oh, my gosh, D, I'm definitely right there! Great scene, and exactly what I was trying to say. If you'd "told" that story, it wouldn't have been nearly as effective.

    Thanks, Kristi, Diane, and Maria for stopping by. I love elderly people, too, Maria, especially when they're funny instead of cranky! :-)

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  5. Many times I put in a story things that have happen in my own family. That's life! Nice excerpt.

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  6. Thanks, Ilona and Ella. I know it's actually the difference between showing and telling, but sometimes it's even more than that.

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  7. My dad hated nicknames. He was a Ralph who went by Jim or Jimmy--nobody knows why--his entire life. So, when we were born, we were all given the name we were going to be called, so my sisters and I are all nicknames, Margie, Debbie, and Wendy.

    So, when my oldest daughter, Kristen, was born, my dad insisted on calling her Krissy. And I said, "Dad, what happened to the nickname rule?"

    And he said, "Well, you should've named her Krissy because that's what I'm going to call her."

    That's my old person funny story :) Great post, Liz!

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  8. LOL, Margie, I love it! A friend of mine named her daughter Cindy and Susie because, like your dad, she hated nicknames, and she laughed forever because the girls' friends called them Cin and Sue.

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