A few days ago I was at a loss as to what my next blog post should be, so I posed the question to Twitter’s writing community. Sarah Addison-Fox was good enough to lob a suggestion my way, (the title of this blog post, in fact), and so I went with it. (My Emergency Backup Plan was writing prompts, but I honestly wasn’t feeling very inspired in that direction, either.)
So here we are. How to Write Killer Descriptions from a person that’s still very much learning the writing process, just like every other writer out there. As Ernest Hemingway once said: “We’re all apprentices in a craft in which no one ever becomes a master.” With that in mind, here’s how this apprentice approaches writing descriptions of things.
1.) I use my imagination. This may seem obvious, but the best weapon in a writer’s arsenal is really their imagination. Live the scene you’re writing, and it’ll be easier to describe it.
2.) Don’t be afraid of using –ly adverbs, adjectives, and so-called boring words like “really,” and “very.” [police sirens in the distance] Wait—before you lock me up, hear me out. I was taught to write this way, and I think the world goes too far whenever they say “delete every ______.” There are definitely some words that should be used with caution, and some words that should be used hardly ever, but I think that avoiding any part of the English language like the plague does not do anyone’s writing any favors. This is creative writing I’m talking about here, folks. It’s okay to be creative. (And if you go back a hundred years or so, you’ll find that what publishers considered “good writing” has a lot of these forbidden words in it. It’s changed, just like every other part of society. Someone once told me that writing for a fad will make you late for the fad, and it’s true.) I’m not saying ignore every writing rule in existence, I’m just saying take them with a grain of salt, and write with the voice God gave you.
2017 was a big book year for me. I not only published three of them, but I rediscovered my love of reading (*gasp*, bad author), and learned to write those reviews I so desperately craved myself. Going into 2018, I want to continue writing reviews of books I read, and so I thought I'd start doing a once-monthly blog post in which I compile the previous month's reviews all in one place. (Because every bookworm loves finding new reads, right??)
Thus, I give you December's offering... in January. There's quite a bit of Christmas going on here (oddly enough), so if you need a little something to ward off the January blues, I have some recommendations. ;)
A Christmas Carol and Other Stories
My rating: ★★★★
A Christmas Carol
5 out of 5 stars
[I copied most of this from my original review of A Christmas Carol, which can be found here.]
This book is weird. This book is spooky. This book is deep. But it also captures so perfectly the essence of Christmas—that “goodwill towards mankind”—that makes the season so beautiful.
I have to say, though, that one of my favorite parts came early on when Marley’s ghost visited Scrooge:
‘You are fettered,’ said Scrooge, trembling. ‘Tell me why?’
‘I wear the chain I forged in life,’ replied the Ghost. ‘I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?’
Though I don’t believe in ghosts, and certainly don’t believe that anyone is cursed to “go forth” in death if they didn’t in life, it was a very vivid picture of the chains we all end up trapped in at some point—the chains that only God can free us from. Marley’s chains were made of cash boxes and other things related to the miserly business he and Scrooge conducted. It was a sobering reminder that we aren’t to get so caught up in our business that we forget to be a blessing in other peoples’ lives. And that’s something we all need to remember from time to time—both during the Christmas season, when it seems to come so naturally, and the rest of the year.
Also, I’d just like to say that Scrooge is one of the most well-thought-out characters that I’ve ever come across, especially in older fiction. In the beginning Dickens introduces him as the most tight-fisted, crotchety old miser there ever was, but then he colored in his past and made me pity him, since he hadn’t always been that way, and by the end, Scrooge has undergone a tremendous change in his arc, and his joy at having been given a second chance was palpable.
All in all, it’s a new favorite, and will probably become a yearly Christmas-time read for me. (In fact I read it twice this December, after reading it for the very first time—which says a lot, coming from a person that hardly ever re-reads books!)
3 out of 5 stars
Admittedly, it’s got to be tough to be the story that comes directly after A Christmas Carol, but I didn’t enjoy this one as much. It was a biting satire highlighting the way rich people brainwash themselves and the poor people under them with comfortable lies—comfortable lies about how they’re a Friend and Father to the poor when they really do nothing but Put them Down. That made it rather depressing, for a large part of the book, since the main character “dies” early on, and in ghostly form watches his beloved daughter travel a hard path on her own, and ultimately try to commit suicide, because she believes the lies. The darker feel of this one knocked off two stars, since I personally don’t enjoy that as much, but it was extremely effective in its satire, and the characters were vivid, and the plot as well thought out as ever, thus the three I left.
The Haunted Man
3 out of 5 stars
This one was a little darker as well, but not as much as The Chimes, I thought. It was kind of a rewriting of the Midas’ Touch idea... except instead of turning everything he touched to gold, the main character erased all the memories of sorrow and wrong that a person had. Which sounds good in theory, but those times of suffering help us to appreciate the good times all the more, and without them everyone turned miserable and ungrateful. It was really thought-provoking, thus the three stars, but it didn’t grab me as much as some stories, and it felt a little dark. (Not “bad” dark, just depressing dark.) :P
Altogether I rated A Christmas Carol and Other Stories four stars since A Christmas Carol had rocketed so high on my list of favorite books, but the other two weren’t as impressive. Worth a read, definitely, but hard acts to watch after the first, which was such a work of genius.
Welcome to Katelyn Buxton Books! I'm a Christian author and blogger, with a passion for writing stories that are not just enjoyable, but also lead people closer to Jesus. Feel free to look around, and enjoy your stay!