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Monday, July 22, 2013

Powerful Descriptions

How do you write a god descriptive paragraph?  That is a question many authors must answer.  When you decide to write a book, you have to do more than tell a story.  You have to show the story.  The only way to do this is through good descriptive verse.
Consider your favorite books.  Read through them and study how they write.  How do they show the story?  How do they draw you in?
Consider the next two paragraphs
The ship on the ocean moved about in the waves. Wind blew around it.  Lighting flashed.  More waves  hit the great ship covering it in water.
Lightning streaked the night sky.  Tumultuous waves tossed the splintered ship as though it were a mere toy.  Foaming water crashed onto the deck drenching any unfortunate enough to be on it.  More lightning flashed followed by roars of thunder.  The ship lurched violently as humungous waves attacked it relentlessly forcing it to dip below the water before shooting back up to the surface once more. 
Which one draws you in?  Which paragraph makes you envision what is happening?  That is what you have to do as an author.  Use descriptive verbs.  You may need a thesaurus to help you out, but that’s okay because it will become your next best friend.
Try this:
Jenna touched the burner and it burned her hand.
Good start, but it doesn’t show much.  But you could write it like this:
Jenna small hand brushed the coiled burner of the stove.  Instantly, searing heat struck her forcing her to jerk her hand back.
Better right?  The words “searing heat” indicate what made her pull back and what she felt.  These two sentences tell you that Jenna’s hand is small and that she jerked her hand back when she burned it on the stove that was still on.
You want your audience to be able to see, hear, and fell the world in your books.  You do not need to have page length descriptions for this.  By simply adding a few words in your sentences, you can show your world without overloading people with long descriptions.  However, many people already know what mountains, forests, or even oceans are like thanks to television and movies.  You can use this to show your world with your touch, without writing a long description.
Consider this:
High up in the mountains the rag tag group of soldiers and exiles crept single file along the narrow ledge.  Pebbles clattered as they rolled down the cliff face.  Fierce winds howled around them chilling them to the bone despite the warm sun that shone upon them.  The thin atmosphere made the trek difficult as many struggled to breathe from the exertion.  Wheezing, they carried onward hoping that the elf knew his way through the mountains and eager for even a small amount of relief.  Men carried small children on their backs.  Others supported the elderly that had difficulty even walking. 
A whistle broke their concentration.  Everyone halted.  Dismayed, Tesnayr looked out at the gorge below.  The path had ended on the escarpment they were all on leading straight to the empty air ahead of him.  Five crevices stood silhouetted against the abyss forming a straight line to the other side.  If it’s not one thing; it’s another.  Tesnayr bit his tongue to prevent himself from screaming in frustration.  These people trusted him to lead them to safety, to deliver on his promise.  He had led them to their death.
You can see and fell the plight of the people.  And with the help of television many already can picture the mountains so the author didn’t have to do a lot of work.  She was also able to describe the scene in two paragraphs instead of two pages.  You don’t want your descriptions overly long because that will slow down your story and your reader will lose interest.
Adding descriptions can be as simple as sticking in one or two words.  Consider the case of Jenna’s hand.  By inserting the word small, I just told you the size of her hand without lengthening the sentence. 
So play around with your sentences and descriptions.  Can you see and feel the world in your stories?

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