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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Finding Adjectives at the Goodwill

As writers, we struggle to keep our scenes excitingly visual. But our mind’s eye runs eventually out of images. Try as we do, we can’t manufacture the vivid details we’d like.

Recently, I’ve discovered a treasure trove of adjective-driven objects to decorate my fictional settings. Heaps of glass, ceramic, and silk finds are available at the Oviedo Goodwill (as well as at other Goodwill locations) to replenish my writing with tactile details. Crowding the aisles are alabaster-white ceramic angels, peacock-colorful silk flowers of all types and sizes, and genuine wood knickknacks of every droll, dandy, and delightful kind. Granted, we’re talking mostly 1950’s Americana leftovers. But in any domestic setting in our narratives, there’s still of touch of the Eisenhower illusion, which can easily be modernized with our imagination—turn a pink polka-dotted white vase fanned out with an assortment of pine-yellow wooden spoons into a fire-engine-red KitchenAid mixer with a stainless steel wire whip.

So, description-weary writers, shop Goodwill. Having trouble with your University colors? Browse and find a Boston University red sweater or a Dartmouth green sailing jacket. I personally found a Cambridge blue food bowl for my astute boy cat.

Or your colors in general? There are earth-yellow dishes and electric-blue plastic glasses, along with robin egg blue watercolor prints and screamin’ green beach shorts.

Let’s not forget textures. Reach out and feel things hairy, soft, rough, gritty, smooth, sandy, course, cottony, hard, and spongy.

Read what I recently conjured up for my novel from a walk-through with a notepad in my beloved Goodwill:

I switched on the lamp. What I first saw, in the whirl of my eyes, told me I had indeed just broken into anyone’s but Steve’s apartment: wine-red sofa, pale-green loveseat, floor lamp with a cobalt-blue glass globe. My eyes ran in every direction, following dots, splashes, and bands of colors to their sources: a miniature white-spotted jade Buddha sitting cross-legged on the glass coffee table, nicely complimenting the tea cans, a Kodachrome-red wax apple beside it, and violet-blue silk flowers bursting from a bleach-white pot, beside which was a silvery, mirror-like gift bag with pink zigzags around the borders. I would have been stilled by the beauty of this apartment if not for the picture frame on the bookcase that, first, caught my eye, then, creased my mind in half in further confusion. The picture was of Tammy.

So, remember, there are heaps and loads and oodles of bits and bobs and loose ends at your neighborhood Goodwill. Think of it as your Hollywood prop shop, and you are Steven Spielberg’s assistant.

Good luck Goodwill hunting!


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