The Story is in the Details
by Ada Brownell
“Description isn’t optional,” said Rebecca McClanahan in her fabulous book, Word Painting. “The success of all fiction, and most poetry and non-fiction, depends in part on description’s image-making power.”
McClanahan tells us description begins in the eye and ear and mouth and nose and hand of the beholder. “Careful and imaginative observation may well be the most essential task of any writer.”
She quotes Aristotle who said, “When our aim is conciseness, naming a subject directly and precisely is the most effective route.”
In my studies I’ve learned the only thing you shouldn’t name is an emotion. Instead we use description to show the character’s reaction to the emotion. He turns and slams a door. She screams. The lady faints. The child vomits. A person trembles so much he spills his coffee. The horse rears after the blast of lightning.
McClanahan says description rarely stands alone and is seamlessly intertwined with other literary elements. She defines effective description this way:
1. Carefully worded and appropriate in sound and in sense, including the musical qualities of language.
2. Sensory. She used this description to show sensory detail –a salty kiss, a dancer’s leap, the fine brown hairs on a lover’s arms.
3. Using moving pictures wherever possible. “Good description can create the illusion of movement and vitality, bringing even a static subject to life.”
I noticed while working as a newspaper reporter how the television cameras at a news conference followed motion. Often the camera zoomed in on my hands writing furiously on a notepad. Movie cameras work much the same way. The reader also follows motion.
4. Employs metaphor or other figurative language. But the value comes from how it serves the story, poem or non-fiction piece.
Drawing the reader into the story is what using descriptive detail is all about. Effective writers’ words are wrapped in it.
 Writers Digest Books, Word Painting: A Guide to Writing More Descriptively, Rebecca McClanahan
Enter an area where people are missing and radicals want to obliterate Christianity from the earth.
|Joe the Dreamer|
Does God answer prayer? No fantasy. No wizard. Suspense. Christian payload.
Joe the Dreamer: The Castle and the Catapult http://buff.ly/XeqTvH or https://www.createspace.com/3962829
The book is also available at Barnesandnoble.com, and is listed at Goodreads.com
To learn more about this author’s books: http://www.inkfromanearthenvessel.blogspot.com
Amazon Ada Brownell author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001KJ2C06
To learn more about Ada, visit her website: www.AdaBrownell.com.