August 06, 2013

The Charm of Details

So for those of you who've read a few of my stories, a few of my entries or even met me in general, you'll notice one thing I always like to put into the front: the little details in life which always seem to somehow wind up lost in the cracks. As much as I love Hemingway and the simplicity of his writing, I always found that what caught my attention the most were people who were more than capable of writing in such a way that it painted a lyrical image in my head. Using just the right amount of details to bring out vivid imagery in your mind. That's the beauty of writing, is that it can pull and entrance you into a world separate from your dull unimaginative life.

For example, take the following sentences:

"Charlie crawled through the exit of the hole and onto the dirt. He was more than pleased to be out of there."

So what's dull about this? Everything. From the lack of visual details to the plain words. There is a lack of empathy, a lack of passion in the words. Let's look at just the first sentence, immediately, we know Charlie was in a hole, and he climbed out. That's about as much as we can even draw from this. The second sentence, finally indicates that he did not like being in there. It took two complex sentences to indicate that Charlie did not like being in there. What was he doing in there? How did he feel in there? Why did he want to get out? So let's apply the magic of visualization to this.

"His eyes were sealed shut with the previous night's sleep as he tried to force them open. When they finally did, what he saw was almost as good as keeping them shut in the first place. Around him, was pitch black darkness. He began to panic, not knowing where he was trapped. All around him, the wet smell of earth plunged into his nostrils. He began to claw at the ceiling of his dirt tomb and it gave way, little by little, creating a pyramid of dirt below. The damp soil clogged his fingernails as he dug furiously until finally the sun broke through. With all of his strength, he pulled more down until finally he made a hole large enough from him to pass through. He heaved his body out half way and using the grass around him pulled himself out. He plunged face first into the grass and took a deep breath. He filled his lungs with the sweet aroma of air, freed from his earthly prison, and began to cry. Where was he now?"

Amazing what we can do to "Charlie crawled through the hole" basically. So it's okay to use those one dollar words to express ideas, just make sure you're using enough of them to make a 10 dollar idea out of them.