Thursday, January 17, 2019

Writing: It's All in the Details

by Susan Day

Whether you enjoy jotting down your thoughts in a journal or you consider yourself to be an experienced writer, you should know by now that the key to creating powerful prose and narration is in the details.

But, is it easier said than done?
The way you describe a character or thing is crucial to the readers' enjoyment. Regardless of what you have planned to happen in the plot, the words you use to expand on details are what will capture the hearts of your readers.
The truth is that most plots and situations have been written about before. With thousands of books published a day, there is bound to be a story just like yours 'out there'.
The way you can make your story stand out is not what you write about, but how you write it.
Read the Classics
The reason some authors are still being read today is the quality of their work.
Let's look at Charles Dickens – he wrote stories about the people and the events which shaped the city of London in the mid-1800's.
Each morning he would walk the streets making a mental note of the people he saw and what they did. Then at home, he would use his notes to create wonderful characters, all of whom, carried the story and, at times, drove the plot for him.
When you read of a young man, whose desire to be rich is far from his present situation, described as being disproportionately unlike the distance between the soles of his feet and the cold pavement due to the holes in his shoes, you know you're reading a brilliant descriptive text.
Knowing when to stop adding adjectives
Describing the physical characteristics of the people in your book should go beyond simply telling how old, tall, fat or rich an individual might be.
Instead, we might read how someone struggles to stretch a worn leather belt around jeans fading at every edge.
We might be privy to small hands fidgeting like trapped butterflies under the table as the characters share their first lunchtime rendezvous.
Just listing adjectives or adverbs is not going to cut it. Rather, put your characters into situations and watch them squirm, relax or even shine.
Knowing when to reach for the thesaurus
If you've been writing all your life, like so many of you have, you should begin to recognize words you repeat over and over again.
Replace overused words by using your thesaurus. If you are writing in an MSWord doc, select the word and hit 'shift' +F7 and a list of words will appear to help and guide you. The more you do
this the better you'll get.
Read and take note of how other great authors create minute details which add so much more substance to the plot of their book.
Adding details which show rather than tell your reader what you are saying will make your writing powerful, compelling and, best of all, have your readers wanting more.
Susan Day is a passionate blogger, author, and educator. She has written over 100 guest posts for other bloggers this year alone and has just published her first non-fiction book 10 Things Happy Grandparents Never Regret Doing.  Susan lives in Australia with four dogs, three bossy cats, three rescue guinea pigs, and an errant kangaroo

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