Tuesday, May 31, 1994

Look and See

If there were two words that I try to avoid, they would be look and
see. Whenever I write a scene that involves the physical senses, I try
to remember to exclude indirect references to physical characteristics.
The physical characteristic of the senses such as look, see, touch, feel,
etc. are better described by direct reference to the event itself.

In a scene where observation and clarity are important, I like to
go to the source for a description.

--------- Example -------------------------------------


Dennis looked away from the fire so he wouldn't have to see
what had happened to his friend.


The fire engulfed Brian as though he were an ant on a stick. He
reached out for help, but Dennis turned his back to him and the flames
scorched his throat as he screamed one last time.

------ End ---------------------------------------------

I don't know about the rest of you, but since I started examining
how I put decription into action, my writing has improved. I find that
using sentences that are more complex helps also, but there is never a
substitute for using the active voice. The passive voice 'can be' slow
and cumbersome to the reader and only adds length to your work, not quality.

Yet, I continue to read works where the whole story is written in a passive
voice and occasionally an active sentence is thrown in as bait.

Look and see adjectives are passive as are could and would, yet
they are used so much in modern writing that most readers come to expect
to prod through a story. IMHO- Active description is an art as much as
a gift and increases the value of a story.

J.L. Campbell -- It is my favorite thing to do. Huh?