Sunday, September 16, 2012

Storehouse of future descriptions

I work outdoors and have come to appreciate the amazing array of green hues I can see over a growing season. I have also worked in scorching heat and brutal humidity while being stalked by hordes of ravenous mosquitoes.

In my personal life, I've given birth and discovered infidelity. I have been wracked by fear and rage, and filled to glowing with wonder, joy, and awe.

As a writer, I need to describe things from tropical sunset scenery to my villain's deepest darkest feelings,
I work to hone my vocabulary skills.  How?

Stop and let my senses record. 
           I used to note things and keep on trucking. Now whenever I can, I stop.  I watch the red-tinted sun until it disappears under the horizon. I listen to full fade of an ambulance's siren. I study the body language of a child with a new toy. I record as much as I can without letting allowing my inner voice to do commentary. That way I have a bank of "clips" to use.

Let associative words attach. 
            As soon as I can, I play back what I have "recorded," and let my feelings attach to the "clip." Some feelings  are not immediately writable. Others are. Again, I am building my storehouse of future descriptions.

Use resources to expand my pool of words. 
           My Flip Dictionary thesaurus lists 72 words under the heading "Green."  Dictionaries list antonyms.  Children's encyclopedias have great pictures with captions and identifications.

          News magazine reporters and columnists are often masters of the succinct description. Short stories are a treasure trove of good examples.  Poets also play well with words. I read a variety of writing.

        Nothing beats practice.



  1. What a great post, Ana - one I'll need to keep and refer to again!

  2. Ana...this is so great. In all things I think we too often forget to simply stop and take it all in.

    As a writer, having all of these experiences, memories, and emotions at our disposal is even more important.

    This brings whole new light to 'stopping to smell the roses'. Thanks!

  3. Love your idea of letting the senses record, Ana. I think we often do this unconsciously, but as writers maybe we should actually make a conscious effort, using all our senses and not just the obvious ones of sight and sound.

  4. Wow, I'm not sure I could turn off my brain to just let me senses record without commentary. That's a great skill to have, and one I need to perfect. Great post!