I was working on a scene that takes place outside a bar in Boston. I was struggling with my description of the bar, and remembered that Neil Gaiman has a similar setting in his prologue of Neverwhere.
When I remembered his scene, I had this vivid picture of the pub he was writing about. In my mind, it was full of light and laughter and warmth. I could see the people standing around the bar, joking and laughing together as they celebrated the protagonist’s departure. I saw the bartender, drinks in hand, a menagerie of bottles and glasses arranged behind him. I saw color and lights and tables and I thought, “Hey, I’ll just read that scene again and maybe get some inspiration from it.”
So I took out the book, thumbed over to page one, and began to read. And you know what? Neil never even describes the inside of the pub.
He vaguely mentions the door opening and light spilling into the street and the noise coming from inside but that’s really it.
Needless to say, I was fascinated and slightly proud of my mind’s ability to fill in all the gaps. Not that my mind is anything special, but the fact that we as readers are capable of creating so much with so little… It’s astonishing.
Just one more example of how the right words used the right way can have such a tremendous impact on a scene. Thank you, Neil Gaiman, for that reminder!