Yes, I said paint with words.
I’m sure you’ve heard of “paint by numbers.” Maybe you’ve even done some. This is similar in that the picture is already created for you. All you have to do is repaint it with words so your readers can see it.
Have you ever watched a movie or video where the background is white? All the props are white and you are left wondering if the villain is hiding behind a rock, a bush, a car or an elephant? Or maybe the hero drives away with his lady in . . . was that a glittering red mustang or an old battered jeep? Hard to tell, they look the same. And where is the story taking place? India? Paris? New York City or some small country town? And what time of year is it anyway? Early spring or late fall? That man is carrying an umbrella, but is it snowing or raining?
I’m sure you have never seen a movie like that. Just think of how boring it would be. (And what a flop it would be at the theaters. 🙂 )
You don’t want your story to be like that. You’ve got to have a setting. You have to have props, you have to have weather. Believe me, readers want someplace to put the wonderful characters you’ve created. They don’t want them floating around in a white cloud.
So, now you get to have a little fun. Use your words and “paint” the blank canvas of your story backdrop so your characters can keep their feet on the ground. You might start at the top and work your way down. You might start at the bottom. Some people go left to right. Or you might start with the foreground and work your way into the distance. There are so many ways you can “paint” a scene. There really is no right or wrong way to do it. It might be very wordy. (Ever read a book with two or three pages of description? I have. Ralph Connor does an amazing job at scene painting!) Or it might be just a short paragraph or two.
I’m going to give you a few pictures here, each one is going to be numbered. Your assignment is to write at least one paragraph (more if you really love doing it and want to) describing one of the pictures. Post your paragraph in a comment and see if anyone can guess which picture you described. It might be a bit tricky because each of these pictures have mountains in the background so you can’t just say, “The mountains towered in the distance.” 😛
I’m looking forward to reading some great descriptions. Have fun and let the painting begin!
Do you find it easier to describe a picture that you can see or one that’s in your head? I started off describing pictures I could see, such as these, and then was able to move on to ones in my head.