Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Improving writing skills - Descriptions

Practice makes perfect.  It's an old adage but its true.  If you want to become a better writer, you must write...and write...and write.  It's not enough to love writing, you must make the commitment to improve your writing skills.

Before I completed my first novel, I had made two previous attempts.  Those stories are packed away waiting to be finished.  My biggest problem?  I had failed to do the necessary work to achieve my goal.

Just as an athlete works out, a writer must do the same.  One of the exercises I found helpful was to describe an animal.  Take a cat for instance - you could say a cat is yellow and fluffy.  But if you really thought about a feline, you might describe it as follows:

          The cat crouched low as it crept through the knee high weeds, it's yellow eyes never
          leaving the low branches of the flowering pear tree.

The exercise is not limited to animals.  It can be applied to people as well as places.  If you have time, visit a cafe with outdoor seating.  (Make sure you bring a pencil and paper or your laptop if you must.)  Watch the people around you.  Notice what they do and how they look.  Are they rushed? Agitated?  Does their skin look weathered?  Choose a person, take notes....and then describe that person - giving him/her a name and back story.  You are only limited by your imagination.

D.S. McKnight