Thursday, December 1, 2011

Seeing in Detail

In our last SCBWI-Hawaii newsletter, Sue Cowing recommended a daily writing exercise--put down six details you noticed that day. I love that idea! I notice at least six details every time I walk down the street. There's so many things to notice here in Laie. Crossing campus on my way back from the Thursday farm sale, where I buy my supply of local grown papayas, tomatoes, and cucumbers, I picked out these six gems:

A college student with a high, flat-top haircut and heavy horn-rimmed glasses buzzed by on a white moped.

Day-glo pink streamers fluttered at the end of a construction stake stuck in the middle of a muddy drainage pool.

A drab brown sea-bird with boomerang-shaped wings skimmed the water.

A cream-colored blossom lay face-down on the sidewalk under a plumeria tree, petals swirled in a spiral to rise to the sharp point of its stem.

One single burst of scarlet bloomed among the dark leaves of a bush by the sidewalk, as if someone had put the flower there by mistake.

A young woman with pale eyelashes knelt on the grass beside a bowl of soapy water, scrubbing a window screen with a plastic brush. She didn't smile back at me, her face preoccupied. Moving out soon, cleaning the apartment, final exams, graduation, my world about to change--I read it all in a single glance.

I love concrete details! There's nothing to put a whole picture in the reader's head like a single, good, solid detail. Capture some small thing in perfect imagery, and suddenly the imagination fills in all the rest. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but the mind's eye can produce amazing pictures with only the stimulation of a single sentence.

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