Wednesday, May 22, 2013
The craft of rewriting-Technical Flaws-Overwriting-Character Description
By OFW chief editor:
Carlos J Cortes And Renée Miller
Published: March 20, 2013
The crone threw her hood back, revealing her withered face.
Janice moved like a linebacker, with force and purpose.
The man blinked, and his puffy eyes struggled to focus.
In the above examples, we don’t need to go into a detailed description of the crone’s wrinkles, Janice’s broad shoulders and aggressive personality, or how tired the man is because it’s all there in a few words. Withered is a strong word, giving a perfect visual of a really old woman. The words “linebacker,” “force,” and “purpose” speak volumes about Janice. Puffy eyes give the impression of a weary demeanor, and making an impression is the goal.
Saturday morning dawned bright and clear.
The door opened to a chaotic room full of books and papers.
The rain beats a steady staccato against the steel roof of the old porch.
Setting is tempting to overdue because we have so many senses to choose from. Often a line or two is all we need, using one or two of the six senses to give the reader an image. More than that adds nothing. In the first example above, six words give the reader all she needs to move into the action. What time of day is it? It’s morning. Weather? Sunny. What day? Saturday. We’ve established a lot in six words. The second example provides a visual clue to the place the character enters in the scene. In the last scene, we use sound to give the idea a sense of place. The next lines will be action, and another line of setting, but no more. Mixing the setting into the action provides the writer an opportunity to add more detailed descriptions without slowing the pace. The rain beating a staccato is active and descriptive at once. Then we get an idea of place with steel roof and old porch.
Renee Miller & Carlos Cortes
Renee Miller, Dirty Truths
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