Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Proper and Perfect Mode of Description Amanda Bradburn

The Proper and Perfect Mode of Description
   Lesson Two

            Hey, everyone! As promised, description returns, as does our scribe dragon. Remember we are concentrating on exciting and fresh descriptions, this time on people. Generally, when a MC is introduced, the author does not run through the long spiel of adjectives. The character jumps in, and you get to know him or her by circumstances, conversations, and maybe a bit of description.
            So, let’s jump in. Keep those swords ready for the dragon. But don’t hurt him.

            Sometimes you will run across a sentence like this:

             Kayla brushed back her long ,silky brown and blonde hair with a finely manicured hand. She had blue eyes, like the sky, and porcelain skin that was perfect in every way. She wore a ragged pair of jeans and an equally ragged American Eagle sweatshirt. She never saw the dragon.

            Ooookay. Not only do we have serious problems in the workmanship of these sentences, they’re boring. We see only what Kayla is, we do not know her. (Please note, the POV is most definitely off and I know this. Promise)
             Right, then. Let’s change it up a bit.

            She was thirty minutes late. Kayla sprinted across the parking lot, shuffling books and term papers in her hands. A pad of Post-It notes slid out of the pile and fell to the pavement behind her, but she didn’t turn.
            She had others.
            Mentally, for hundredth time, she crossed Just for Looks Nails off her manicurist list. Any shop that took fifty-five minutes and still charged exorbitant prices clearly wasn’t worth her time.
            The Monday sky was as stonewashed as her ragged jeans—a favorite pair among several dozen.
            A dark shadow rose in the air, reflected in the shining double doors that led into her high school, but she still didn’t turn.
            Until a shrill scream split the air.

            Yes indeed. Do we taste the flavor that is Kayla? We’re solidly in her PoV, noticing what she notices, not caring about what she doesn’t… um… care about…? Well, actually…
            At any rate, do you see the difference between not only description (our focus) but how proper description leads directly into ‘showing’ and not ‘telling’.
            Stay tuned for part three!

© 2011 Amanda Bradburn, all rights reserved

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