Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Writing Wednesdays--The One Paragraph Challenge

A big ups to Coby, Corrie, and Paul (not husband Paul---California Paul) for trying out last week's Writing Wednesday. Take the time to read their pieces---they are all different, and all wonderful.

I would love to hear from you---writing, if nothing else, is fantastic therapy. I know I walk away from the keyboard lighter and happier. It's mind yoga, and it's possible for everybody. Om.

Without further ado...this week's Writing Wednesday:

The One Paragraph Challenge.

Details make a piece of writing soar. The lack of details makes it sour. Like the difference between "a" and "u," good details can set the tone of a piece or reveal a character more fully, while bad or lacking details can leave the reader hungry, or worse yet, indifferent.

The Prompt

1. Think back on your week and take a quick mental snapshot. Take one moment or person and freeze it.

2. Your mental camera has the ability to zoom in and out. Zoom out and notice the big details---colors, textures, postures, etc. Zoom in closer and note the specific details---the condition of the subject's fingernails, any bruises or scabbing, specific pieces of jewelry, etc. You can list these if that works for you, or simply note the details in your mind.

3. Write one descriptive paragraph, starting out big and zooming in small.

4. Read over your paragraph and see if a tone or if certain tropes arise. If you notice, for example, a sense of joy, examine your word choices and figurative language to see if you can intensify this tone.

5. Read-Revise-Publish

The Sample

Paul, still crisp in his sky-blue button-up and khakis, stands in the doorway, holding Joel in his arms. Joel's arms are wrapped tightly around his neck, and his legs are twisted around Paul's torso. A loving corset. Joel rubs his head into the small of his daddy's neck, repeating "Daaaa Da! Daaaaaaa Da!" like a holy mantra. He sighs. Paul rocks him slowly, as the tension of deadlines and responsibilities retreats for another day. He closes his eyes and murmurs, "I missed you, Joel-Joels," then smiles softly.


I ended up focusing less on physical details, and more on the body language. I hesitate, generally, to focus too much on clothing choices, unless they add to character. In this case, I thought the image of Paul in his work clothes helps the reader understand that this is a time of transition.

I made this trickier than it needed to be, because I was focusing on Joel's single-minded devotion and Paul's attempts to cleanly separate his two worlds to focus upon his son. I'm not sure if I was successful here, and of course, appreciate your feedback.

Hope to see your work--be in it comments, Facebook comments, your own blog, or via email!

1 comment:

Paul said...

Sorry for being out of town on Wednesday. But I did perform your writing exercise. Just on Friday, not Wednesday.

It's Item #6, for what it's worth.