The other day I saw a watercolor of a house. It was drawn from a corner, extending the house into three dimensions. Shading, shadows, and perspective added extra depth. Trees, bushes, grass and blue sky breathed life and color into the scene, and a tricycle and toy wagon in front added a warm, human touch.
As I gazed at the sketch, I thought about writing, and the various ways we can use words to add depth, color and life to stories. I immediately determined to write about this, but when I sat down and began writing, my words slid all over the page. I felt like a toddler trying to create a Van Gogh with fingerpaint and quickly fell into mental gridlock.
Throwing up my hands in frustration, I retreated to other tasks. Gradually I remembered my own best advice: Write on Purpose. What's my purpose here? I asked myself.
My initial thought as I viewed the vision was that skill as a writer develops over time, just as the skill of the sketching artist does. The artist learns to use a variety of stroke techniques to achieve various effects. Writers discover ways to go beyond the basic stream of words to enhance the meaning and impact of stories. Artists learn to choose details that enhance the scene and omit the ones that clutter and distract. Writers learn to select just the right words for the most effective details.
My purpose was to remind you that whether you write or create visual art, developing this palette of skills takes time and practice. It requires experimentation. Just as student painters learn new brush, color and composition skills by studying and copying the work of masters, writers can learn new ways to use words by reading and imitating favorite authors.
Rather than striving to create a literary masterpiece, perhaps my purpose here is best served by retreating to my core meaning and simply telling you what I was seeing and thinking.
As you begin a new story, ask yourself, What is my purpose? What am I trying to tell people here?
Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal