Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Make Your Stories Come Alive

Vivid and clear descriptions make stories come alive. Concrete and specific details paint a more memorable picture for your reader.

Carefully chosen words to describe something or tell a story make your reader use her senses. Not only can she imagine, she can also feel what she's read.

As a writer, it's your job to provide a vicarious experience to your reader. The only way you'll be able to do this successfully is by stimulating your reader's imagination. Not by bombarding her with too many details in one go, but by gradually drawing her into your story or essay using descriptions.

Avoid abstract and general words. Don't just say that a girl is beautiful. Instead, describe her beauty. Maybe she has large, dark chocolate-colored eyes with long lashes and wing-tipped brows.

When using description, you're not working with just one sense, seeing. Stimulate your reader's other senses -- sound, touch, taste and scent.

So don't just say the music is loud, the concrete rough, the tea bitter, or the air foul.

One descriptive device you can use is comparison and contrast. Compare or contrast something foreign with something your reader is familiar with. For example, "A calamansi fruit tastes like orange but it's less sweet and more sour."

Another thing you can do to be more descriptive is to give "life" to inanimate objects, abstracts, or animals in your story or essay. Give them human characteristics. Onomatopoetic words come in handy. These are words whose sounds imitate the sound they describe. Examples are buzz, whir, sigh, bang, and murmur.

Use fresh words in your descriptions. Forget about writing, "They walked slowly to the park." Just how slowly did they walk? Did they trudge? Did they drag they feet?

Remember, if you want your reader to experience the same thing you've experienced - or experience something you've imagined - write and describe it well.

Now it's your turn. Turn these bland sentences into sentences that ooze with descriptive words. Make your reader see, feel, taste, hear or smell them just by reading your descriptions.

  1. The song began.
  2. A police car went by.
  3. The pie was tart.
  4. A little boy stood still.
  5. Her hands were rough.
Now try writing a paragraph or two using these prompts to guide you. Be descriptive.
  1. Look out your window. What do you see?
  2. Describe yourself when you were between 5 and 8 years old.
  3. Close your eyes and imagine you're in a room full of people. You're the only blind person there. Describe the room and the people in your mind.
  4. You've gone to a carnival before, right? Write what it looks like. Imagine you'll read your description to a blind child.
  5. Choose 12 small objects in your house. Put them all in a box. Without looking inside the box, touch each object one by one. Hold each object for 3-5 minutes, then describe what that object is.

Copyright © Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ

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