My Pet Peeve; show you are in Italy, don’t write it. There are one thousand ways to reveal that you are somewhere in Italy rather than patently writing ‘Italy,’ as I taught this week up at Vincigliata Castle.
Fortunately I taught a One Day Writing From a Sense of Place event last week. I say fortunately because there is nothing like teaching a class about showing rather than telling to make you go over your own writing to make sure that the obvious is not being stated but instead, written.
This is a small part of what we discussed in class before we went up to Vincigliata Castle to get into the sense of writing from place. When writing about Italy, try not to use the words Italy, Tuscany or Florence. How can you show your readers that you are in these places without telling them precisely?
Wrack your brain to think of different and interesting ways to present Italy:
If you smell coffee and see someone licking a cappuccino moustache off their top lip, where are you likely to be?
If a man walks in with a helmet and MARIO written across the back of it, where are you likely to be?
If you’re at a dinner party, restaurant or cocktails and the wine is predominately Sangiovese, an exclusively Tuscan grape, where are you likely to be?
If the noise of an Ape drowns out your conversation walking down the street, as your heels get caught in cobblestones, where are you likely to be?
Go on…you too! Make observations that reveal you are in Italy. Obviously you have to pursue and extrapolate these scene details to complete the image of being in Italy, but anything rather than saying We Are in Italy. Telling your readers where you are (God FORBID in the first sentence!) is a major pet peeve of mine. It’s pure lazy writing. This applies for everywhere your character is in your book. There are one thousand ways you can reveal where you are, rather than saying it!
Maybe one day you can join us in Tuscany and we can further discuss these thoughts!