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Anytime I read a story, I see it played out as a movie in my mind. The way I see it, a writer is an artist who is painting a picture inside the reader’s head. How many details are enough to paint the perfect picture?
Instead of paint, the writer uses words. When describing the color of someone’s hair, don’t use mundane terms like brown, black, or red. Spice them up just a bit. Instead of using brown, say caramel fudge. Just how black is her hair?
Hair the color of melted dark chocolate flowed down her back.
Her hair, black as a starless sky at midnight, covered the sheets.
What color is the little boy’s wagon?
The child’s wagon was the color of a ripe tomato.
What about the car Melinda is looking at?
The cherry red Ferrari sitting on the showroom floor made her think of the pie cooking at home.
Similes and metaphors – try to use new and unusual ones, instead of the ones that have been used time and time again. A simile is the comparison of two things, usually marked by the word ‘like’, ‘as’ or ‘than’.
The rain felt like miniature icicles hitting her skin.
A metaphor is a figure of speech in which one thing or person is spoken of as though it were something else.
The woman - a cold, gray, unfeeling statue – turned and walked out of the room.
Clichés are easy to recognize simply because they have been so overused.
My grandmother was always busy as a bee.
My grandmother was a bee busily buzzing from one flower to another.
Words that are unnecessary need to be cut. One of the words often overused is “that”. I am guilty of overusing that one myself. Read over your sentence several before you decide whether or not it is necessary.
Mary shopped at the store that she preferred.
Mary shopped at the store she preferred.
Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. A lot of writers use far too many of them. A sentence can usually be reworded so that the adverb isn’t necessary.
She ran quickly.
She ran at the speed of light.
He angrily slammed the door.
He slammed the door with such force it shook the china in the cupboards.
The five senses – touch, taste, smell, hear, see – are in some way involved with everything we do. Instead of stating the sense involved, use description in such a way your readers experience what the character is experiencing.
The icy cold glass of water cooled her sweaty skin.
The sweet, gooey chocolate left her longing for an entire pitcher of cold milk.
The unpleasant, sharp odor of dirty socks emanating from the paper mill was so strong it made her lose her lunch.
Melodic chords from the orchestra permeated every molecule of air in the room.
The torrential rainstorm created a river flowing backwards up the street.
Content copyright © 2013 by Lisa Binion. All rights reserved.
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