I love purple writing. I love it. I admit it. One person will call it ‘lyrical’. Another will lable it ‘drek’.
The late Ray Bradbury wrote his stories in vivid, detailed sentences that always engaged me, the reader. He used ’emerald’ instead of ‘green’. Why? Because ’emerald’ is a specific shade of ‘green’. It’s richer, more complete. ‘Teal’ is a shade of green, also. It is cooler, deeper, and more earthy than ’emerald’, which is warm, light, and airy.
Ernest Hemingway was the master of the short sentence. I know someone now who is close to that. He’s concise, precise and downright terse at times, but his meaning is as clear as — what? Ah, you stop and you think: just how clear IS what he says?
Here’s a list of things that are clear: water; thoughts; a path; a dewdrop; sunlit air; transparent glass; morning skies; cold beer.
While there is nothing wrong with using an economy of words to describe something, the more depth you pour into what you write, the stronger it is. This is not to say ‘go overboard’ with your description. Quite the contrary: make sure that what you say is clear to you and to your reader. When you reread what you wrote and find that the meaning is lost somewhere, then you, the author of that writing, have not been clear.
How can you fix that? Take out the gobbeldygook. Go back to the basic idea, to the nugget of information on which you’ve based what you wrote. Have you gone from Point A to Point C and somehow missed Point B? Did you get so caught up in description that you forgot where you were headed at the beginning? Or did you use so little descriptive language that what you wrote would cure insomnia for good?
The photo that accompanies this article is from a few years ago when the Moon formed a triangle in the evening sky with Venus conjunct to Jupiter. It was hazy and dreamy and inspired a lot of images in my head, from which I made notes in my notebook. The image gave me a sort of mystery in the evening sky, which becomes, in my notes, a starting point for the ‘what if…?’ dialogue that generates stories.
When you take the time to notice things like these around you, and make notes that you can refer to without turning on a computer, you have a wealth of possibilities waiting for you to bring them to life.