he other day I was helping a fellow writer with their story and they mentioned being stuck on having to use a line over and over since the action was the same and kept repeating in the story. There was nothing wrong with the line, except that they felt like they were repeating it ad infinitum. And that was true, so I played a little game and told them to do the same. How many ways can you convey the same thing? What other aspects of the action can you look at and draw from? What other senses can you call upon? I think, for the meat of our stories, these questions come naturally. Explaining your magic system, or describing your villain in the most solicitous way, is fun. The hum-drum lines that bring us from scene to scene sometimes get overlooked though, putting us in this mess that my author friend is in now.
So let’s look at their example:
The issue: Every motorcycle turn is taken at speed and threatens to run off the road.
The line: She took the corner at such a speed the bike threatened to go off the road.
OK, it’s fine if you do it once or twice, but it will definitely get boring, eventually. So, we play our game!
What does our MC feel—internally and externally?
The bike’s wheel trembled as she took the turn. Maybe she ought to slow down—but there was no time for that.
What does the MC do?
Stella struggled to keep her grip on the handlebars as the bike screeched around the corner.
What does the MC see?
Stella could just catch the glares of pedestrians out of the corner of her eye as she flew around the corner.
What does the MC hear?
Gravel skittered, pining against the brick building on the corner as Stella failed, yet again, to slow enough for the turn.
What does the MC taste?
Stella bit her tongue with the effort to keep the bike upright as the force of the turn threatened to send her skidding sideways.
What does the MC smell?
Burning rubber told Stella that she had once more taken the curve too quickly. If she didn’t let up, the bike was going to fall to pieces beneath her.
Are they all good? No, but are they different? Do they paint a picture? And most importantly, have they gotten you writing and thinking outside the box? YES!