Think about the world around you and how you experience it. Now, think about how dull it would be if you couldn’t see colors, taste flavors, smell flowers, or hear the sounds of music or laughter.
Consider how your emotions change your perception of objects and people.
How much of that translates to your characters in your writing?
Here’s an easy mantra for you: Sight. Sound. Smell.
Wiki shades of color, look up synonyms and antonyms for words and google images that give you a clearer picture of what you’re writing. *You’re not cheating; those are all FREE creative writing tools at your disposal! If you haven’t done it already, condition yourself to think of them in that way.*
Before and after examples using a theme to which we can all relate:
- I unhappily got on the school bus with all the other children and sat down somewhere in the middle.
I just said I got on the bus “unhappily”—that’s incredibly generic. How can I omit the word and paint the picture instead?
*2. I set foot on that mustard yellow school bus, amidst a buzzing hive of peanut butter and jelly scented strangers, and resigned myself to a seat in the middle.
In the example above, it was not any school bus; it was that mustard yellow school bus. The children weren’t just kids to me; they were peanut butter and jelly scented strangers. And I didn’t sit down; I resigned myself to a seat.
Lastly, there’s one more incredibly important rule to remember: Don’t get carried away.
Say no to overkill.
Despite what you may have been told in all those creative writing classes, try not to be too flowery—use one description for a subject, two if absolutely necessary to add value. (Note: mustard is modifying yellow to indicate a specific shade above so it counts as one description.)
For example, I think this might be too much for some readers—and I want to keep my writing simple and enjoyable for the greatest common denominator:
3. I set foot on that boxy, mustard yellow school bus, amidst a buzzing, wriggling hive of peanut butter and jelly scented, uniformed strangers, and resigned myself to a seat in the middle.
You have to practice to learn and grow, which is something we should always be doing as writers:
Write. Write. Write. Write. Write. Write. Write. Write!