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How to Write Crisp, Evocative Descriptions: Regain the Child’s Eye (10)

“Man’s maturity: to have regained the seriousness that he had as a child at play.”

― Friedrich Nietzsche

“I have fierce, perfect muscles that you can see far away. I used to have a perfect mouth till I lied.”

“My parents got divorced and my dad got me.”

“What’s quieter than the rain Wednesday morning? Silence is the quietest thing that people break.”

“Sometimes I feel kinda only.”

All of the above were written by children who used to be Rebecca McClanahan’s students. McClanahan points out that, like children,  writers should have a different spin on creativity –  artistic expression should both be playful and highly concentrated. Writers should also be patient: “Like a child who manipulates a doll or a piece of string for the pure sensory pleasure of it, the imaginative writer takes pleasure in the purely descriptive moment, without hurrying the task.”

Children, McClanahan observed, were fully engaged in the task at hand. Also, as the children wrote, they frequently changed their viewing perspective: “A child rarely looks at this world straight on. He lies flat on his back in the middle of a field, or peeks out from a hiding place, or climbs a tree, and watches the scene from above.”

 If we have lost  the Child’s Eye, our writing becomes lackluster.  If you are one of those writers whose creativity was snatched away by adulthood, McClanahan says: “Regaining the seriousness of play. Changing our viewing perspective. Hiding in small spaces and looking out. Setting ourselves in motion in order to watch the world swirl by. These are but a few of the ways we can regain the child’s eye we thought was surely lost.”

“If description is the flowering, it is also the root and stem of effective writing,” wrote Rebecca McClanahan in her book, Word Painting, A Guide to Writing More Descriptively. I’m reading this book because I meet my Waterloo every time I have to describe something in writing. I honestly feel this makes my writing flowerless. This is such a good book and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to write well. I’ll be using this blog to take notes as I read through this book, so this post is part of a series. I hope you’ll learn along with me.

playphoto credit: Morguefile

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