What’s up with the chickens?

The Red Wheelbarrow

Image by CEThompson via Flickr

My husband and I met in high school.  Just as now, back then I loved English class, great classic literature, and poetry.  He loved numbers–yuck.  Trying to persuade him to see the light, I would read beautiful phrases in hopes something would spark an interest.  But each time he’d only reply with–What’s up with the chickens and a wheelbarrow?

He missed the point entirely.  You see, William Carlos Williams stated it clearly in the poem “The Red Wheelbarrow” when he wrote–so much depends upon. . .

The point is not realism, but reality itself.  As writers, we must view the world as the protagonist–experiencing smells, sounds, and sights as only he can. 

For me, the smell of brewing coffee evokes comfort.  For someone else who feels trapped in a job running the register at a coffee shop counter, that same smell could evoke entirely different emotions.

Think about the current scene you’re writing.  Rather than just a description of the scene, how does your character experience the details?  Does seeing the lace curtain blowing over the opened window bring peace? fear? guilt? 

Our fictional world can only become believable through our character’s reality. 

The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow
glazed with rain
water
beside the white
chickens. —William Carlos Williams, 1923
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