I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems like we, as writers, do get so wrapped up in the actions, thoughts and relationships of our characters that we completely forget to dress it up. Sentences get so long-winded in action and thought that any descriptive narrative is just left in the dust. With this tutorial, we will remedy that. Hopefully.
You may ask: What am I to do? And I shall tell you: You just need to start small, using basic descriptive words and work up to more complicated and sophisticated sentence structures.
- Let’s start with a plain, basic sentence.
Ollie sat underneath the tree.
- Let’s replace Ollie with a pronoun and give the tree a species.
A boy sat underneath the willow tree.
- Ask yourself this. How old is the boy? Is he very young? Or is he more of a teen? Is the tree dying? Is it a young tree? Use words like “young” or “lively” to give your character (or any other living things in the scene) an age group and a starting point to visualizing your character for the reader. We’re just going to call the boy “young” for right now.
A young boy sat underneath the willow tree.
- Now we need some sort of action the boy (or the tree) could be doing. just sitting isn’t going to cut it. when adding more action to a sentence, it would range anywhere from a single word to an entire phrase. just make sure that when you add the action that it moves with the rest of the sentence in a coherent fashion and that there is proper punctuation to accommodate it. for our little example sentence, we’re going to add a phrase.
A young boy sat underneath the willow tree, watching a breeze.
- “Watching the breeze” sounded all nice and fluffy when we first put it, but after we’ve read it a few times it sounds sort sort of ridiculous. One can’t literally watch a breeze, right? Here we can just add an action for the breeze to be doing simultaneously with the action of the boy. The boy doesn’t even have to have any awareness of what the breeze is doing at all. So, we will just change a few words around and add something for the breeze to do.
A young boy sat underneath the willow tree, as a breeze flitted through the bulrushes.
- Now that you are starting to get the hand of this, we can just skip a bunch of the steps and get to the end part, where we have a lovely and descriptive sentence worthy of opening your post. Below, as you can see, we added a few more choice words, replaced some things and moved some phrases around.
As a gentle breeze flitted through the bulrushes, a young boy sat contemplating underneath the ancient willow tree.
Writing & Language Tools
- Blabla meter for when you really need to be told that there’s too much waffle in your writing
- FreeMind: a brainstorming tool
- English Stack Exchange. A very nerdy linguistics resource
- Evernote: A cloud application that makes for a good tool for storing and sharing research and notes across multiple devices
- Onomatopoeia dictionary Ta-dah! needs no explanation
- Oxford Dictionaries British-American English Comparison. Want to know your pavement from your sidewalk or your aubergine from your eggplant? And what is a courgette anyway?
- Synonym Finder (and antonyms) for all of your word finding needs
- VisuWords is a clever dictionary/thesaurus/wordfinder/word association tool that uses a graphical interface
- Wordnik: An encyclopaedia of words. Antonyms, synonyms, etymology, demonstrated use. Create lists of your favourites
- Write or Die: Creative writing sadism with punishment for not keeping up
- Creative Writing Prompts. Some simple ideas to get you started
- With Painted Words: Picture prompt. Earn money too!
Edited by Zoe
- Book Crossing: Give a book away but first put a label on containing a unique code from this website. Then watch it travel the world.
- Rare Book Room: HQ digital photographs of some of the rarest books on the planet. Examine them without having to visit the national library in another country and more importantly, without damaging them
- Read It Swap It: Have lots of books in storage that you don’t want to give away, can’t sell and will never likely read again? How about swapping it for another book? Simple premise and it works. I’ve acquired three books through this site already.
- Librivox: Download free audiobooks voiced by volunteers. Or perhaps you might want to volunteer yourself
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Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.
Tyrion Lannister – Game of Thrones
This is my 18th day of active posting(of 23 from the start) and also the day I reached my first 1.000 hits.
I want to thank you!
Next step 10.000 🙂 I shall get better with time (or, at least will strive and hope to:) )
And before it gets too cheesy…
Thank you again,