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Rated: E · Letter/Memo · Writing · #2221391
Advice on using description
Backroads
I could use some advice on descriptions. I want to get a little more descriptive so people can know the place where the characters are and what do the characters look like. I always find that a bit hard.

Ooh, I wonder if you would be insulted if I pulled out my early elementary-focused 6 Traits+1 Writing handbook. Seriously, there's great stuff in it.

First, realize that description is a lot more than just a long list of how things look. It's detail, it's getting out the necessary information, not just rambling on about how something looks. I have a great exercise (from the aforementioned handbook) that can be expanded into a paragraph, possibly even a story.

Start with your subject. Add a word to describe your subject, then what your subject is doing, how it's doing that, where it's doing that, and why. These are the essentials of description. (Example: Turtle. Green sea turtle. Large green sea turtle swimming lazily through the ocean currents to enjoy the day (1st grade version.) WHO WHAT WHERE WHEN WHY HOW. They do not need to be in a single sentence, but I find that people hit those in the course of a "description" really manage to hit all the necessary detail to flesh out a scene.

Pick a short scene you would like to do in your story and do this exercise with it: describe everything you would like to about that scene. Heck, even pick something in your own environment.

While working on a plot is fun, take the time to stop, look at what you have written, and tell us more about it. Focus on FEELING. It's easy to describe a physical space... it's more interesting to read how a character feels in that physical space. Don't get me wrong, what it looks like is important; but places that are memorable are not memorable because of how they look but because of how you feel when you are there. There's a connection between the physical and the emotional, and good description of a place/person brings that out.

Description is also a good time to use interesting words. You don't have to challenge vocabulary or use overly fancy words when simple ones will do the job just as well, but try to find interesting ways to put them together.

Biggest piece of advice from aforementioned handbook: Always look for a more interesting way to state it. Not necessarily fancier or wordier, just more interesting.

Reply Feb 24, 2
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