|Night Blooming Epi|
A friend of mine and her husband are voracious readers. She has been a huge supporter of my writing from the beginning and knows I like to learn from other writers. Last night in an email she wrote:
"(husband) convinced me to read James Lee Burke's new book. He absolutely loves the way he writes descriptions. Everytime he reads one of them he goes on about how you can just visualize the settings and events. The vocabulary he uses is amazing and we find ourselves looking up the words we have never heard of. What is interesting is the books are easy to read and understand despite the wide vocabulary."
This made me think about the way I write descriptions. Am I the kind of writer that would make a reader convince someone else to read my work because I write great descriptions? Sadly, I have to admit, I do not, yet...I did a lot of soul searching and looking through my present WIP. My descriptions are adequate, a few are memorable, but I definitely need to improve.
We've been urged to write tighter and tighter in children's writing but rev up the action. We are supposed to grab them immediately and not let them go. Most of their focus is on video games, CD's, TV, DVD's, text messaging, and so many other things that have to do with speed and immediate gratification. Even in the classroom, the teacher has to keep their attention with some type of dog and pony show when presenting a new lesson. That is not a bad thing, I've done it myself and thoroughly enjoyed it, but I can't help wondering if we may be shortchanging children today.
In The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing by Med Leder, Jack Hefron, and the editors of Writer's Digest, Janet Fitch wrote in her chapter Sense and Sensuality, "Think how paltry our lives have become at the end of the twentieth century, compared....other regions of the world still rich in uncensored sights, sounds, smells, textures, tastes."
I would like to believe one of the purposes of a writer in this century is to bring the desire for each reader to go out and experience the sensory world around him. Janet Fitch's article contains six exercises to improve descriptive writing, I think today's writing time will be spent doing those exercises and applying them to my WIP.