Writing with a Sense of Adventure

We've all been told that we need to use all five senses to bring our fiction to life. Sight, sound, smell, taste and touch all need to be invoked. But there's one other sense that also needs to be used: the sense of adventure.

Just bringing your work to life is not enough. Accountants and insurance salesmen are alive, but how many people want to cozy up to them and talk shop for hours at a time? Writing with a sense of adventure will give your work an added spark of excitement that will make people rush to lose themselves in your pages for the hours it takes to finish the book.

So, how does one write with a sense of adventure?

Webster's defines "adventure" as:
1 a : an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks
b : the encountering of risks (the spirit of adventure)
2 : an exciting or remarkable experience (an adventure in exotic dining)
3 : an enterprise involving financial risk

Check out definition #3. How many of us write "safe" books because we think they'll be easier to sell? But even if you know in advance every element that you'll use in a book -- say, if you're writing The Amnesiac Cowboy's Secret Baby -- you can write about those elements with a sense of adventure.

The way to do that is by utilizing definition #2. Turn everything, no matter how prosaic, into an exciting and remarkable experience by using telling details. Turn your descriptions into wild safaris to bring back the perfect image of something, seen "in the wild" in a way the reader doesn't expect. For example, in my book, DARK SALVATION, Rebecca, the reporter, sneaks into one of the abandoned labs during her tour of the secret research facility. She has only a moment to look around before the lights go out, but in that time she sees: A rough wooden table with brightly painted drawers filled the center of the tiny room. Narrow counters and desk spaces ran around the walls, with shrouded laboratory equipment stored neatly for their next use.

What caught her eye? The fact that in this industrial research complex, where everything is white and gray, the drawers of the table are painted in bright colors. Are they color-coded? Are the scientists allowed more freedom than expected? Or is it, as she suspects, a prop, purchased from someplace that no longer needed it, and never used? The same with the lab equipment. It's covered up, so how can she be sure of what it really is?

A short time later, she enters one of the labs that is in use: A young man in a wrinkled white lab coat sat at the counter, hunched over a microscope that was far more complex than the simple magnifiers she remembered from high school biology. A scattering of Twinkie wrappers surrounded him, perfuming the room with the odor of preserved sugar. It was sickeningly sweet, but a welcome change from the antiseptic air of the hallways. He must have heard the buzzing of the scanner, because he lifted one hand and made vague shushing motions at the door.

What catches her attention now? First, she's checking the new facts against the old -- the cover is off and she can see what the machinery really is. But what's it really being used for? And, she notices the smell, as well as that it's covering up another smell/taste. What else is being covered up?

See how the descriptions are short, but full of telling details that give a sense of adventure? And, just to get back to the other five senses, see how they're worked in? (At least, sight, sound, smell and taste are. Touch is sort of implied in the "rough" table)

Last, let's look at definition #1. How can writing involve danger and unknown risks? One way is to use techniques you've never used before. For example, write a book using a single point of view. The other way, which is actually more dangerous and risky, is to plumb deeper within yourself for the emotion that makes it to the page. Don't just write a scene -- live it. Feel not only what happens and how that affects the characters, but what it means. Then, (#1b) encounter those risks, don't avoid them. When you get to the hard parts, when you're tempted to take the easy out and find the simple resolution, push through and go for the solution that feels like it's tearing your soul out. Your triumph will show on the page, and the readers will feel it.

A three-time EPPIE winner (for best Fantasy, best Science Fiction, and best Anthology) and multiple finalist for the Pearl, Sapphire and PRISM awards, as well as a host of other awards, Jennifer Dunne is the author of over a dozen novels and novellas, most for erotic romance publisher Ellora's Cave and their new imprint for other genres, Cerridwen Press. Known for her "Hot, Heartwarming Fiction," she writes deeply sensual character-driven stories that incorporate aspects of the unusual -- ranging from "cute bondage" to magic and mythical entities -- with an upbeat, optimistic tone. When not writing or working at her day job, she can be found on stage performing in community theatre musicals, or indulging her addiction to board games. Visit her at http://www.jenniferdunne.com

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