Lucid Writing Advice III
by Antavius S. Flagg
Page 2 of 3
DESCRIPTION OF EVENTS AND SURROUNDINGS
When we read, we want to see what we read. When we read we want to hear what
we read. When we read we want to feel what we read. When we...I guess you get
the idea of what the reader wants. And as you can tell, it’s demanding.
A writer tries to imitate life as best he can. This is a must. To do so you
must come to understand a few pointers. Observe the following passage:
Samantha glided down the hallway, and around the corner. With a scream, she
fell into the hole.
Not much description, with the exception of the word ‘glided’ to show that
Samantha was walking quickly, but quietly. Let’s take this passage to
Let’s inject ‘dark’between ‘the hallway’. ‘With a scream’shows little of
what has happened when Samantha has fallen, and I’m sure that the writer will
like us to know that she fell quite a distance. Let us say ‘with an echoing
‘She fell into the hole’ seems quite clumsy, lets cut ‘hole’and reconstruct
it into ‘abyss’. Now we receive this:
Samantha glided down the dark hallway, and around the corner. With an
echoing scream, she fell into the abyss.
Now the reader can clearly see exactly what the writer has wanted them to
see. The hallway is dark, Samantha is in a rush, her screams echo as she
Here’s another passage:
Wilhem brought his sword before him. On the surface of the blade he saw the
anger on his face.
This writer could have been better off if he left the paper to itself:
‘Wilhem brought his sword before him’ may seem to do justice to this
passage, but it lacks description. Let’s change it to ‘With a crisp ring, and a
flash of reflecting sunlight, Wilhem brought his sword before him.’
‘On the surface of the blade, he saw the anger on his face.’ is like looking
into the hollow of a dead tree trunk. Its filled with nothing but dead air.
Here it is rewritten with description in mind: ‘On the polished surface of the
steel blade, he saw the glare of anger shadowing his face.’
Here’s that passage rewritten:
With a crisp ring, and a flash of reflecting sunlight, Wilhem brought his
sword before him. On the polished surface of the steel blade, he saw the glare
of anger shadowing his face.
Although he we have increased the word count, the passage seems to flow
faster and smoother because we have injected description. The reader can hear
the sound as the weapon is pulled from the scabbard, the flash of light as the
rays of the sun strike the blade, and the anger on Wilhem’s face.
What you don’t want to do is pile everything on at once. If this writer had
written that Wilhem saw his brown eyes, the scar around his left eye, and the
bruise around his mouth all in the reflection of the sword, we will be bogging
the scene down. And as you can probably tell, Wilhem was probably ready to use
that sword to his defense if he was angry.
Keep this in mind: Keep it simple, yet make it worthwhile.
Good dialogue is good, believable dialogue is better. People rarely speak
for minutes on end. Keeping dialogue simple, and yet essential to the story,
will empower the scene. Here is a scene written will awkward dialogue:
Marie and Jean walked into the crew quarters of the space ship. In the glow
of switches and levers, Jean turned to Marie.
" You must hate being on this ship for all these years?" Jean said.
" No." Marie said.
" Why not?" Jean said.
" Because or this." Marie said. She then pulled the lever that brought up
the map of the stars.Next Page
Copyright© 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 Antavius S. Flagg, sffworld.com. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author.