Level Up Your Descriptions!

As a visual learner who likes to paint, I need to be able to see something to understand it. If you, as a writer, can’t show me exactly what’s going on, I’m going to get lost. Here’s how to write like there’s a movie playing in your reader’s head.

1.Be specific with your colors

I’m not saying you need to be able to recognize 10 different shades of black, but at least try to use specific color names.


Colors come in all tints and shades!

Look at this square. These are 9 different shades of yellow. Some are more brown, others creamy, and the middle is truly Tweety bird yellow. If you want your readers to see the same bird you do, you need to take into account how much one color can vary in appearance.

Let’s do an example: “The yellow bird flew into the tree.”

That’s lame. And ambiguous.

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Some Thoughts: The Art of Racing in the Rain

my enzoThere is nothing like a good dog story to make you cry. Nothing can compare to the tears that flow when you read about the life of a dog, especially when it’s told from the dog’s point of view.

I bought this book on a whim at Barnes and Noble a few years ago. There was no summary on the back, simply a quote:”Hands are the windows to a man’s soul.” I wanted to read something new, and I had never bought a book without having read it first. So, in a burst of spontaneity, I bought it. Wild and crazy of me, right? I opened it, not knowing what to expect. The story that unfolded before me touched me in a way I never would have imagined.

It’s not the kind of dog book where you sigh and think of Old Rover, who passed on a few years back. It’s the kind of dog book that changes your perspective. It opens your heart and mind to new possibilities. It’s the kind of dog book where every connection to a character is made the way a dog would connect. The way it’s written makes you feel as if you’re looking up at up at every scene, seeing the world on four legs.

In a way, it reminds me of Black Beauty. It’s a commentary on humanity from the perspective of an animal. But I have different associations with these books. Black Beauty is the novel of my childhood, a movie that has it’s script imprinted in my brain. After the millionth time I watched the film, I could recite nearly every line, and I still can now! Garth Stein’s book, however, had a different impact. I may not be able to quote the entire book, but the wonderful, repeated lines throughout the book will always have a place in my heart. The strange metaphors, like the zebra, have a more mature feeling to them. I am older now, and this book is for older people. It is not the magical and tragic horse story of my youth, but the wise observation of a dog that most matches my perspective now.

A horse simply does not have the capacity to be violent out of anything but fear. But a dog, being a predator, can relate to man’s inner evils and desires. They know us better than we do.

Mio amico, Enzo, the wondrous almost-human, you are the person I wish I could be. Brave, outspoken, and a hopeless romantic; all without saying a word. I am happy to have gotten to know you again tonight, rereading the 304 pages that contain your story. I will carry on, and I will be brave.

Because somewhere, the zebra is dancing.