Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Be Specific, Not Pacific!

Hiya peeps! I've neglected my poor blog for long enough, so I wanted to post a quick writing tip today. This is a tip I shared with my wonderful students in this fall's session of the creative (and very economical) writing course, F2K. (There's another one starting up in January--sign up now!)

When you're writing, you want to be as specific as you can so that your reader can visualize the scene and stay interested.

Replace those words that are as generic as the ocean is big. 

Be on the lookout for these commonly used "Pacific" words (and many more):


Now, let's think about how we can make a couple of these more specific and less Pacific:

tree --> oak, pine, cedar, sapling, redwood, birch
shoes -->heels, sandals, sneakers, boots, flip-flops, wedges
man --> doctor, taxi driver, chef, waiter, wrestler

Often, you can add even another layer to shrink those Pacific words into specific puddles. Take "shoes" for example:

shoes -->heels --> stilettos -->Jimmy Choos 

Being more specific in your descriptions helps readers immediately identify whatever you're describing. They won't have to slow down and fill in every detail in their minds. They're more likely to keep reading AND remembering the story long afterwards. We do have to be careful in not detailing our readers to death, but I'll talk about that in another post. Now, are you ready to write?

Oh well, you can't please 'em all! ~Mysti

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