Her Moles Fade to Beauty

Lev the Russian immigrant is riding the train to his new home in England. Next to him is seated a woman who is described as having a mole flecked face. Instantly my mind sees a snapshot of eastern European peasant resplendent with babushka and shabby dress. As the scene unfolds he speaks to her and we find her name is Lyda. My mind goes to images of women I know named Lyda. The conversation between Lev and Lyda reveals she is an English teacher who has a job doing translation in London. Now her whole appearance changes for me. She is in more modern clothes, thinner, stylish hair and proper manners.

The Road Home by Rose Tremain contains other character description that mirror life. First impressions of people are garnered by one character quality or physical attribute.  I remember a friend whose ears I thought were enormous but over time his whole face seemed to balance before my eyes.  Rose captured that morphing in those few sentences. Later when Lev visits Lyda in her London home more of her character is revealed. Nuisances of her loneliness that mirror his change Lev’s initial view of her. She appears even more attractive her moles are a non-issue.

In life our first impression of an individual may evolve around a single facial quality. It might be shapely lips, deep blue eyes, scars, perhaps a crooked nose that eventual blend into the whole of the face as we get to know them.  As a reader we should experience the same thing. The shapely lips may take on a wicked sneer and the crooked nose a regal air. As the character develops we notice feature chances as well.  The red scar is overshadowed by a smile of compassion when he rescues our heroine from her greatest fear. Or the large eared man sets the single mom’s heart a flutter when he spends time helping her awkward son make the baseball team.

As you read through your not-yet publish work how quickly have you described your character? Have you left something for other characters to reveal to your reader? Does your characters appearance change for the reader as his relationships change with those around him. Does her vain appearance become more subdued when adversity comes?  What do we learn about your character as describe by others?

Quilting a Theme Into Your Novel

Authors usually craft a story with a theme in mind.  Objects can represent theme and drive the plot as I found in Lily of The Field by Rose Ross Zediker. Rose made quilting and one particular quilt the center of her story.

Caroline a fifty- something widow’s new business venture is making and restoring quilts. She is commissioned by the very attractive fifty-something bachelor, Rodney to restore a quilt that belonged to his late mother.  The quilting component of the story serves several purposes. It gives Caroline a profession. It helps create conflict with her son who doesn’t think quilting is real job. Her ability to restore quilts leads her to a new relationship as she works on Rodney’s quilt. The quilt itself seems to comfort Caroline and draw her back to a trusting relationship with God.  The quilt pattern is called Lily of the Field. This reminds Caroline of the scripture passage Behold the Lily of the Field and God’s care.  Her worries melt away as she restores this particular quilt and God speaks to her heart each time she handles it.

The quilt is the axis the story moves on. Trips to the fabric store give opportunities to build relationships. Rodney helps her with her business by updating her website. This adds more opportunities for the main characters to grow together. Her son’s anger over his father’s untimely death from a heart attack is deflected to his resentment of her business. The quilt can speak to Caroline without sounding preachy to the reader. As the quilt is completed all hearts are healed and relationships restored.

The quilt experience gave the author lots of options to pursue her theme-be anxious for nothing., pray and give your worries to God. Restoring the quilt reminds the reader of God’s restoring power. Writers, what object can you place at the center of your story that defines your theme?