Einstein said that God lives in the details, which is something all writers should remember. We tend to want to write about big, abstract, grand subjects – justice, brotherhood, power, love.
But if you don’t anchor your grand subjects to concretes – specific words from the senses that are anchored to everyday reality, the world of the earth, then your fine words are just so much hot air and wasted paper. We might be spiritual beings, but we’re spiritual beings going through a material world.
To make your words alive, they must be alive. And life is in the details – what things smell like, what they look like, sound like, feel like, taste like. Because our lives are important, the details matter.
Abstracts are not only boring and dead, they do not reflect reality. Instead they reflect your judgment of reality. They are second hand. When you write from what you see, taste, feel, hear, smell, you are writing first hand.
Don’t give the reader your opinion or tell her what you are writing about. Let the reader have their own opinion, see their own pictures. For instance, let’s say you are describing a man named Stanley. It is important for your reader to get that Stanley is a man who has trouble making up his mind. You could be efficient and write, “Stanley is an indecisive man.” Or you could place Stanley in a specific setting where he can act indecisive – let’s say you put Stanley in a writing class, and you describe the scene as: “There are five different colored pens in front of Stanley. His hand hovers over them, first stopping at red, then blue, then green, then back to red again. His fingers wiggle and shake.”
Which gives you a better picture of Stanley? Where does he come alive? Wouldn’t it be better for your readers to think “Wow, Stanley sure is an indecisive man,” without you having to tell them?
I sometimes share writing tips that have worked for me or my clients/students. Do you have a writing tip you’d like to share? If so, leave a comment here. You might win something! At the end of each month I’ll gather up the “Writing Tip” comments from the month and pick one at random from a drawing, and send the winner of the drawing one of my e-books: your choice of How to WOW Your Readers or You Can Be An Author, Even If You’re Not a Writer.
Technorati Tags: writing tip, Einstein, details, subjects, anchor, specifics, opinion, pictures