Friday, December 22, 2017

Writing that Brings the Pages to Life by C. Kevin Thompson

C. Kevin Thompson
Don’t you wish you could write like this?

“They left the busy scene, and went into an obscure part of the town, where Scrooge had never penetrated before, although he recognised its situation, and its bad repute. The ways were foul and narrow; the shops and houses wretched; the people half-naked, drunken, slipshod, ugly. Alleys and archways, like so many cesspools, disgorged their offences of smell, and dirt, and life, upon the straggling streets; and the whole quarter reeked with crime, with filth, and misery.

Far in this den of infamous resort, there was a low-browed, beetling shop, below a pent-house roof, where iron, old rags, bottles, bones, and greasy offal, were bought. Upon the floor within, were piled up heaps of rusty keys, nails, chains, hinges, files, scales, weights, and refuse iron of all kinds. Secrets that few would like to scrutinise were bred and hidden in mountains of unseemly rags, masses of corrupted fat, and sepulchres of bones. Sitting in among the wares he dealt in, by a charcoal stove, made of old bricks, was a grey-haired rascal, nearly seventy years of age; who had screened himself from the cold air without, by a frousy curtaining of miscellaneous tatters, hung upon a line; and smoked his pipe in all the luxury of calm retirement.”

Of course, this passage comes from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Stave Four, if you hadn’t picked up on that already. The “They” in the first line is Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

When you read the first paragraph, did you feel like you needed to take a shower? Isn’t the description of the alleys and archways magnificently vulgar? Is “disgorged” a strong and proper verb for that stretch of sentences, or what? And when you contemplate how life really was for some many people in those cities—where no indoor plumbing existed—you can visualize the health concerns immediately, adding to the disgusting setting.

Which is exactly the “feel” Dickens was striving to achieve.

Or take the next paragraph, for example. Did you know pawn shops existed in 1843 London? Have they changed much since then? Can you picture the “grey-haired rascal” sitting amongst the filth? Can you feel the grime around him? Can you smell his pipe amongst the odor of greasy offal? Do you even know what “offal” is? I had to look it up1 the first time I read this book. Wow! Can one word sure add to the visceral feelings of a scene (no pun intended)!

So, we ask ourselves: Can my writing look and smell and feel like this? Why not? It may mean our vocabulary will need a facelift. Our prose may need sharpening. Our fingers at the keyboard may need liniment. Why, you ask? Because Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in a mere six weeks, and many of the words used are not in the typical American’s verbal repertoire. Pretty amazing, if you ask me. It takes great skill to write such a monumental book in so little time and have it only be a novella. You authors know what I’m talking about. It’s easy to get wordy, but it is the economy of words coupled with the message of redemption that makes this work stand out.

So, feeling overwhelmed? Challenged to the point of stress? Think you’ll never arrive at the lofty bar Dickens has raised? I’m sure his reply would be something like this: “Bah! Humbug! Grab your pen and compose the words that garner the most power. Pen a tome with descriptive language that transports the reader to another world, another dimension, another time, another land, another’s shoes. The kind that tickles the nose, dances in the ear, turns the stomach, and floods the eyes. Lead them down the alleys and archways they’d never tread on their own. Be the Grim Reaper Ghost who points them in the direction of doom so they may find their own reclamation. For if you only take them down soft, padded walkways or allow them to ride in cushy Hansom cabs, they will never see how lavish a life of love, modeled after the example of our Savior, truly is.”


(The Blake Meyer Thriller Series, Book 3)

A Perverse Tale. A Precarious Truth. A Personal Tribulation.

Supervisory Special Agent Blake Meyer is at an impasse. Bound and beaten in a dilapidated warehouse halfway around the world, Blake finds himself listening to an unbelievable story. Right and wrong warp into a despicable clash of ideologies. Life quickly becomes neither black nor white. Nor is it red, white, and blue any longer.

Every second brings the contagion's release closer, promising to drag the United States into the Dark Ages. Tens of millions could be dead within months.

Every moment adds miles and hours to the expanding gulf between him and his family. What is he to believe? Who is he to trust?

C. KEVIN THOMPSON is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a kid at heart. Often referred to as “crazy” by his grandchildren, it’s only because he is. He’s a writer. Need he say more?

The first three books of his Blake Meyer Thriller series are out! Book 1, 30 Days Hath Revenge and Book 2, Triple Time, are available! Book 3, The Tide of Times, just released in October! All three are on sale through New Year’s Eve! Also, the second edition of his award-winning debut novel, The Serpent’s Grasp, is now available!

Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, and Criminal Minds, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic, too. It’s quite elementary, actually.

Kevin’s Writer’s Blog:
Facebook:                              C. Kevin Thompson – Author Fan Page
Twitter:                                  @CKevinThompson
Goodreads:                            C. Kevin Thompson


  1. Kevin, you picked a passage from one of my all time favorite stories. The scene is incredible. Do most of us have that type of vocabulary these days? You've definitely challenged us to try and broaden our use of the English language.

    I have a novella due this spring, I'll have to see what I can do. Try and stretch my vocabulary.

    Merry Christmas!


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