|Describing the simple can be very difficult|
It's often asked, if a tree falls and nobody's there to hear it, does it make a sound? Meditation aside, the same is true for anything we describe - if nobody is there to see the orange blob, why are we writing about it? Indeed, once we have someone experience the blob - even if it's the blob itself - then we allow for interaction, and we can create the imagery through the blob's participation in the world.
Let's pretend that blob is an orange Jello mould dessert on a table, and it is thinking about its situation. We can describe it through the blob's participation. "He knew he looked tasty but he wanted to go home intact without strangers having picked and poked at him, pulling out the sliced fruit within. As the hungry dessert seeker approached, he stood perfectly still, not one jiggle in his perfect orange form. He resisted his natural Jello urge to shimmer and shine, instead being as inconspicuous as possible. His faint Jello aroma would be easily overwhelmed by the banana creme pie on his left. Victory came when the person seeking dessert cut away a huge chunk of pie. It looked painful, but it wasn't him."
In that bit, we now know why the orange blob is there, what it's thinking, and our description engages the world he is in. That scene could exist without the description though it would be weaker, and the description would be boring without the scene around it.
Now, I promised sometimes it is better to tell. After you learn all about show, don't tell, you learn when to break the rules. Sometimes, we can use simple, even boring descriptions to create a scene that, without saying it, engages the reader on a different level. Here's a simple description. "With Brahms playing on the stereo, Laura laid still on the couch, a slight smile on her face. The table next to her was cleared of everything save for an almost-empty mug of coffee, a picture of her boyfriend, and an empty bottle of sleeping pills propping up a simple note."
The scene is quiet, peaceful, perhaps boring at first. It is not interactive, the interplay nonexistent. However, the items on the table, while truly nondescript, move the reader to put together a story that is being told by their presence, and hopefully call 9-1-1. This trick works when the reader is engaged with the story and participating in its activity. A peaceful scene becomes a jarring splash of cold reality.
Most of the time, interplay is priceless for the perfect description. However, don't be afraid to let some dramatic moments do some heavy lifting as well.
Post a Comment