Tom Schreck writes the Duffy Dombrowski Mysteries
I was doing some editing and I came across something I wrote.
My character Duffy took a shot and got knocked out. When he came to he noticed the familiar metallic taste of blood in his mouth.
I stopped for a second and reread “metallic taste.” I’ve fought for years and have bled in the mouth. The most recent time was two weeks ago, though I took a shot far less dramatic than Duff.
Why did I describe the taste as metallic? I gave it a little thought and came to the answer quite quickly.
Because I read that blood tastes metallic.
I’ve never sucked on a steel lozenger or licked a metal pipe like the kid in A Christmas Story, so how did I know blood tasted metallic.
I’ve also read about the smell of cordite after a gun has been shot. I’ve written that too and am embarrassed to say I have no idea if that happens or if it has a distinctive smell. In other words I was bullshitting.
Stephen King says you can write about anything as long as it is true. Neither of these were true for me. I’m at my best when I take the time to come up with my own descriptions not what has been ingrained in me from others.
I should be original and authentic and I should work on my own descriptions even though it takes more work. The writing will be better.
Am I alone here? Do you sometimes phone it in because you can? Do you really on tried and true descriptions of things that you've never really experienced?
Does it cause problems?
I'd really like to know.