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.
I know that most of the times I am just like a mathematician who loses interest in the problem once they find there is a solution.
I cannot focus my attention on a single thing.
In my head a new idea is always impeccable and I am surefooted and adequate to doing it. I imagine the end result, the rapture, the joy, and… my interest evaporates.
Doable = No challenge.
No challenge = No interest = Not for me (I have a new idea!)
Same with reading. In the past four years there were just two periods when I have been reading just one book at a time: the Harry Potter and later the Hunger series. My other books in the queue are just equally interesting, so I alternate between all of them. 30 pages of this one, 20% of the other. The books are now over 200 (two hundred). Yep. This is an issue.
- Starting isn’t Useful Without Finishing
Starting interesting things is a worthwhile trait, but perhaps a more important one is finishing those things. The world is full of half-finished projects which could have been great if the fire-starter hadn’t burnt out a month or two in.
The courage to start things needs to be matched with the discipline to see them through. They’re both critical, and my guess is that you can probably assess which one you need to work on.
What is it with my finished projects?
The unexpected happens.
My sewing: I start with an idea (and a pattern) and end up with a completely different outcome. Get-go with a skirt pattern, end up with a dress. (too much imagination)
My blogging: You can bet that what you are reading now are not the perfect ideas, dressed in pluperfect words, dancing in excellent grammar lines that I had in my mind 30 minutes ago… (this is nothing like it)
And I do not like the unexpected. Nope, no surprises for my liking.
The first small step.
I made my decision to finish the 240 book lot before thinking about buying or borrowing new one.
Three days in the venture, I already have finished 3 books, and today will be the fourth and the fifth.
So, as much as I challenge myself, I challenge you: just finish it.
Whether it is a book you read/write, a project, or a simple task, don’t always strive for perfection at any cost (paralysing you from doing a thing), reach for the end line. Finish. Then go back, polish, edit, revise, re-write, re-do, but first have it complete. You will clear you mind for the new ideas instead of rethinking the pending ones. “Truth will sooner come out from error than from confusion.” ~Francis Bacon
Just do it. Finish
(and then tell me how you did it, I still learn),
P.S. 11 hours later my finish-two-books-today mission is complete. How about your progress? I am eager to know (but also can wait). 🙂
My faithful Personal Assistant, Mr. Siri.
He is British and although we had some initial issues with our accents (my pronunciation of “Maria” is “Midea” to him), we are mates now 🙂
With some inspiration from: http://siri-jokes.com/, there we had a nice conversation (mhm, yep, the window was open. Now my neighbours assume I have a bit slow Englishman at home (not that far from the truth)):
Ok, ok, I’ll get some sleep (for I most certainly need it),
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,