Last week I wrote about saying a lot with little.
That’s great; brevity is needed from time to time. But for a story to be truly beautiful, horrific or memorable, whether short or long, the writer must paint a vivid picture.
So how do we, as writers, paint a picture without adding so many color and descriptions that we end up with a muddy mess?
I admire writers that write with beautiful descriptions dripping from the page like diamonds around the neck of a debutante. But me, I struggle every time I sit down to write. Writing just enough words to make the sky a calm vibrant blue on a warm sunny day or adding clouds, birds, airplanes, light breeze until even I’m tired reading the paragraph. The reader does need more than, “The sky was clear.”
I’m a simple person, so I had to come up with a simple process to overcome. Kinda like any overwhelming project, I take it one piece at a time. In art class, we were taught to block out the subject/scene at first pass. Quick and dirty get the basic dimensions down on paper. Writing is another art form. I try to apply what I learned about drawing and painting to the art of storytelling.
Here are my 2 steps:
- Sketch and block out the story. (my version of an outline)
Like an artist sketching out a drawing in charcoal, I write the bare basics first. Just sketch out “what’s to happen.” Giving myself an idea of how many chapters it will take to reach the conclusion.
2. I tackle each scene or chapter one at a time.
I add a layer of shading, and color to the scene, breathing life into the surroundings. Such as, what is important to the character? The sky, weather, buildings…?
Pretending I’m watching and listening to a movie, I let the scene unfold as describe what the character sees, hears, smells and touches, adding these layers of textures a little by little.
Then I go to the next scene and start the process all over again.
How do you decide to add color and description when you write? All at once, as you go, or a little at a time?
Do you have any tips to help me and others with this struggle?
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