Delightful Descriptions

A few days ago Herm posted a comment about the blog That's Not How I Remember It. Herm's concluding descriptions lit my day:
...He sandwiched the meat of laughter between the bread of raised eyebrows. When I finished he simply said, "That's not the way it happened at all."

I rewrote with the flames of my memory and the icicles of his testimony. It melted into something that was reality for both of us.
Wow! Sandwiching the meat of laughter between the bread of raised eyebrows. Flames of memory versus icicles of testimony. Don't those analogies just give your inner writer joyful goosebumps?

Herm is one of my "virtual" writer friends. We met several years ago in the Yahoo Lifestory group. The first story he posted had me sitting on the edge of my chair in admiration. A couple of years ago his story, "Denied the Prize," was published in Chicken Soup for the African American Soul.

Obviously Herm has an innate gift for story telling and depiction. His descriptions sizzle with color and delight his readers. I haven't asked him about this, but I'm assuming he would say it comes naturally to him. If that's the case, perhaps he grew up hearing colorful descriptions as he sat at his grandpa's knee.

Whether you are born with a gift for compelling phraseology or not, it's a skill you can acquire. It's more than a skill; it's a way of thinking and experiencing the world. The first thing you can do to build this skill is to read. Read constantly and pay attention to how authors use description to pull you into the story. Find authors who are particularly good at description and read several of their books. Keep a journal of phrases that especially catch your eye.

The other way to increase your skill is to practice. Think about other ways to say "He frowned," or "Aunt Abbie was huge." Let Aunt Abbie float around your mind until you come up with something like "Aunt Abbie admitted that she quit weighing herself when her scale bottomed out." Or, "Aunt Abbie's upper arm was as big around as my teenage daughter's waist."

Have fun describing your world. Try things out on your family and friends. The world will become more colorful and interesting, in your mind, in your writing and in daily conversations.

Write on,

Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal

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