Writing Tips

Good writing is all in the detail, specifically the quantity of said detail. Let’s take this simple sentence as an example:

He sat on the chair.

What can we say about it? That it’s grammatically correct? Sure. That it gives us the relevant information? Fine. It’s a perfectly okay sentence — but that’s the problem, it’s just okay. You should look at every sentence as having the potential to realise a story beyond just the perfunctory points. So let’s look at the sentence again:

He sat on the chair.

Who sat on the chair?

The man sat on the chair?

The man? What kind of man is he? What do we know about him?

The average height man sat on the chair.

Okay, so we’ve established the man is of average height, what else can we say about him?

The mysterious, average height man sat on the chair.

Now the character is beginning to take form in the readers’ minds, but we need a little more. How else can we add to his character, aside from just listing traits? Maybe we can describe the way he moves…

The mysterious, average height man sat mysteriously on the chair.

So now we’ve given the readers a clear mental image of the character, what else can we do to set the scene? What about the props?

The mysterious, average height man sat mysteriously on the red chair.

With a single word we’ve switched the feed in the readers’ minds from black and white to technicolor. But there’s still more we can do to set the scene and really add to the story.

The mysterious, average height man sat mysteriously on the fabulous, red chair.

Now we’ve created intrigue. What’s so fabulous about this red chair? Is its fabulousness somehow related to its redness? Why is the man sitting on it? Making the readers ask these questions is an important part of creating any story and will be explored further in chapter 2: “Asking Questions and Then Answering Them In A Satisfactory Fashion”. For now, lets sum up by comparing our initial offering with our final output:

He sat on the chair.

And:

The mysterious, average height man sat mysteriously on the fabulous, red chair.

Q.E.D.

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