Thursday, May 28, 2015

Microfiction Assignment: Day Two

Click here for Day One: Intro and Drafts

First Revision: Getting Concrete and Specific

Read over your four drafts from yesterday. Choose the one that interests you most. It doesn't have to be the most polished.

Glance again at the three 100-word stories you read yesterday. Notice the concrete, specific details in each one.

What if the author of derelict had just said, “the yard looked neglected” instead of describing “a crumpled purple bathing suit blown from a clothesline; the splintered hen coop stacked with empty jam jars?”

What if the author of I Was Furniture had told us “my mother was overwhelmed and disorganized and we didn't have enough money and I felt ignored and unsafe,” instead of showing us “the burnt toaster left on the snow-covered roof,” “the toy box overflowing with decapitated toys, and, of course, the hot iron left dangerously near the bed?”

Can you see the difference? This is what writing teachers mean when they say, “show, don't tell.” 

It's something even experienced writers often have to remind themselves of. I think that's because we often feel the need to sum things up for readers, fearing they won't get our point. But often the point we try to make, with our conscious minds, is less interesting than the complex reality.

Trust your reader, and yourself. Enter the story without trying to understand it right away. Just observe. Show us what you see.

Set the timer for ten minutes and rewrite. Don't worry about word count for this draft.

Next: Day Three: An A-to-B Journey

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