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Examining Description

Runner-up in the Stuff Writers Like 2015 Writing Contest

Beginning writers often write description without stopping to think, when they should take their time and let the exposition flow.


Congratulations to A.R. Braun, runner-up in the Stuff Writers Like 2015 Writing Contest with this entry.

All the greats operate like this—King, Koontz, and Dekker.

Instead of simply writing, “Tim walked toward the door, then stopped. He freaked out at what he saw. He trembled. Then he ran.” …

One could write, “Tim stopped on a dime, his heart climbing into his throat. He trembled as much as a palm tree in a hurricane, and his heart crashed against his ribcage as if wanting out. His soulmate had been reduced to fodder for the worms; he’d never realized how much blood could come out of a human body. To say rivulets of crimson lifejuice flowed across his carpet would’ve been an understatement. Copper-scented blood was everywhere: on the walls, on the ceiling, and it soaked the carpeting through and through. Tim opened his mouth, but only a silent scream, strangled in horror, came out. Instead of rushing the sinewy beast—tall as the ceiling, covered roundabout with hair, possessing snaggle teeth like knives, claws, and veiny, muscle-clad flesh—Tim found himself sprinting toward the backdoor. He’d never been confronted by a monster, and what was left of his sanity now drained from him.”

Obviously, the difference is staggering.

But how many writers stop and think before pouring out their ideas, which, in and of themselves, may be right on the money?

I prefer to take it a step further. Before writing a rough draft, I draw pictures of the characters. It makes my left brain work with my right brain, forging the tale I’d previously thought myself devoid of conjuring.

You may have had only one idea for a tale when you signed up for NaNo in November, but now you find yourself spreading the story arc over colorful vistas, penning the classic you’d thought yourself incapable of previously.

Photo by Steven Guzzardi

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