Wednesday, February 22, 2012

WIPlash Wednesdays-Descriptive Writing

Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader - not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.
~E.L. Doctorow~

What Do YOU see?

As a reader, I enjoy epic novels with great attention to detail. I don't just want to see the waterfall—I want to hear the roar of it as it rushes over the cliffs above. I want to feel the cool spray as if I'm close enough to reach out and let it sprinkle and splash on me, close enough to dive right into the swirling, rolling waters (nevermind that I can't actually swim).

Then I would relax next to a large rock, smoothed over time, where the water laps lazily against the gray stone slab. I could feel the soft swishing of the waves against my body as the noonday sun beats down, warming my skin through the lush leaves of the branches above. Hear the twittering tropical birds swooping and calling to each other in the distances while the sweet aromatic flora scents waft in on the breeze and envelope my senses. High in the sky, white wispy clouds drift by on a cerulean canvas.

As a writer, I also enjoy incorporating details to bring the scenery to life—to bring all the reader's senses into play, to see, feel, smell, hear and maybe even taste, what's there. I want them to join me in the moment, to live it as they read it.

What good is writing if it doesn't conjure up a reality? those adventures we love so much might seem like random words strung together, but the beauty comes when those words segue from a blank screen of nothingness—opening onto a scene, the characters, a room or setting- and a movie begins to play out, to take shape in the mind of a reader.

The Kelly green grass on the hillside glistened in shimmering dewdrop diamonds in the cool early summer morning light. Golden sunshine warmed the white wooly sheep grazing the valley near the babbling brook that divided the countryside. Yellow dandelions dotted the banks on either side as little Tommy chased his Labrador retriever down a dusty lane nearby.

Tommy stopped to pick a dandelion that had gone to seed. He lifted it gently, squeezed his eyes shut so tight his eyelids ached, then blew the white tuffs with all the air in his lungs. Squinting one eye open, Tommy watched, his jaw slack, as the tiny puffs rose into the heavens and drifted away like so many miniature umbrellas floating to mysterious destinations and far-off places his five-year-old mind could only daydream about. A row of lilacs in bloom perfumed the air with their sweet aroma.

Smoky, the jet black Lab, dashed back to his young master whose sandy brown hair, tousled by the breeze, had fallen into his eyes. Tommy took a deep breath, threw back the strands of hair and tossed the spent dandelion stem over his shoulder, then snatched a twig from the roadside.

"Get it, Smoky!" Tommy reared back and flung the stick toward the creek. Darting through the tall damp grass, the dog leaped through the air and splashed down in the shallow water. Racing back to Tommy, Smoky appeared to grin with the twig in his slobbery jowls. The dog dropped the stick at his boy's feet, then shook the water from his shiny black fur, dousing Tommy in cold creek water.

"You silly dog!" Tommy squealed, falling to his knees and wrapping his arms around Smoky's damp neck, paying no mind to the cloying wet-dog smell emanating off his pooch. "I love you."
Can you see it? Feel it? Smell it?

All that on the fly, a little word play in a free writing exercise, but it came to me, rolling out in a mini-burst of detailed inspiration.

What about you?
Anything by a writer that ever stuck with you~ long after you were finished reading it?

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