Three ways to richer writing

This new home that we are looking at has a fireplace. I can’t wait for the winters when it will glow with the fire. I can just about imagine, curling up in front of it with a book in my hand and a coffee on the centre table. I can imagine the plush cushions that I will rest my feet on, just to feel the warmth of the fire. And Oh! Yes it will be snowing outside. The kids will be in bed and the husband would have made himself scarce. That will be my place in the world.

The best write ups paint a picture for you. They help you visualise what the scene looks like. Let me give that another shot.

We are looking at new homes to move into. I would love a fireplace to come with it. I can almost imagine the pastel grey walls and the dark hued magenta sofas in the living room. The rug will be soft and light, something that I can curl under my toes. I want to throw some pashmina covers over the sofas and right behind the biggest sofa will be my book shelf. I have tended to it for years. Made in old and dark wood, this book shelf has seen me through college, jobs, relationships and now marriage and motherhood. If any object could personify me, it would be this. It has these small cracks and breaks, imperceptible to those who are unfamiliar. But I know them like the back of my hand. I know the 2nd shelf creaks a bit on the left side. So I shelf the lighter books there. I can’t wait to pluck a book out of it and warm myself by the fireplace. The ornate design around the fireplace should light up beautifully with the fire. The mantelpiece will have our photos collected over the years. I can just about feel that warm feeling inside me when I lie on the rug, supported by those sturdy cushions and prop my book on my chest. If only I could live out my days like that. That warmth, the softness of the rug and the wholeness of that moment.

This write up brings into focus not just the fireplace, but also links the bookcase to a part of the protagonist’s life. The more details that you put into the description, the better the character flows. I would give it another shot at detailing, but now I want to talk about the how of the detailing.

How do you detail the image?

Nothing beats imagination.

When I imagine a fireplace and a book shelf, I imagine what it would feel like in front of one. Don’t get too worried if you are unable to visualise, just look at it in parts. For the bookshelf for example, think of the wood, the number of shelves, does it look old or new, the colour of the books, are the books arranged randomly or in an order, since when do you think you have the shelf and so on. Imagination is best when you imagine the smaller parts of it. Soon the rest starts coming into focus.

Lend it a personality

If the object that you are describing had been a person, how would you describe it.

If the person that you are describing had been an object, how would you describe it.

The bookshelf I would describe as warm, welcoming, experienced and thoughtful. The person I would describe as stable, dependent, been through a lot and yet standing tall. While this is also a part of imagination, it is more about how you imagine it would make you feel.

Colour the surroundings

Now your protagonists- the bookshelf and the person have to be somewhere. How will you describe that space? Is it a lone book shelf on an empty wall? Does the person live by herself or have a family? What’s right in front of the bookshelf- is it a sofa or a staircase? How does this person choose a book from the shelf- does she know what she is looking for or does she look for a familiar title?

Is the protagonist in a pant suit or is she wearing a dress? Is the book shelf in sync with the other furniture in the room?

Does it hurt a little when you think of the bookshelf as furniture?

Also those details and so many more that you will come up with in your mind provide a way in to writing richer characters and richer scenes. All in all, when you are being read, the reader should be able to see everything happening in front of them, just like in a movie. That richness is woven by words.

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