Total Pageviews

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Concrete descriptions cement your writing future

The Arctic chill that settled over Georgia finally cleared a little, and temperatures rose well above freezing. I was able to take a stroll in a light jacket, without a cumbersome coat, gloves, muffler, and hat. A sense of spring hung in the air. Daffodils pushed through the soil, and trees sported green bundles at the tips of branches, ready to explode into fresh leaves.

Ah, February, I welcomed the thaw.

I walked past a neighbor’s house where a row of trees defined his property line, and I recalled having a chat when him while he planted the trees about three years ago. I decided that when I next saw that neighbor, I would comment on how well his efforts have paid off. Mentally I planned a conversation and said, “Your trees are doing nicely.” Whoa! What an abstract statement! I stopped and looked at the eighteen plants that had leaped from sticks to grow into bushes almost six feet tall, and I changed my mental dialogue to this: “Your junipers have grown by at least three feet.”

My revision gave distinct descriptions of which trees, what they are doing, and how well they are doing it. Much better. I ambled toward my house and pondered further. How could I improve the statement even more? Maybe this: “The junipers you planted three years ago have doubled in size.” That description gives him credit for having planted the things.

In the sunlight that warmed my heart and the late winter morning, I chuckled to myself. I’m ever the writer, always revising, even while I’m taking a walk with the dog, and I haven’t seen that neighbor in months. I may not see him again until the trees have tripled in size. What will I say to him then? I hope I remember to be concrete in my descriptions, rather than abstract, just as I try to do in my writing.