"A stereotype is to characterization what a cliche is to description."
-- Gary Provost GETTING THE WORDS RIGHT
What's wrong with this picture: The big dog bit the little dog?
Right--you cannot visualize, cannot picture, how big or how small or even what kind of "dog" this writer is talking about.Now try this: The Great Dane nipped the tip of the Basset Hound's tail.
Let's face it, in the heat of drafting a lot of words are grabbed, especially words like:
It is in revising that such words should be hunted down and the sentence revised so that there is imagery for the reader to grasp. In other words, seek nouns and verbs, ones that instantly provide a picture in a reader's mind. For example: It's not a little house, it's a log cabin or a bungalow or an igloo built for two. It's not a large car, it's a stretch limousine. It's not a dog, it's a Doberman.
Of course, sometimes it helps (and adds variety) to use a metaphor or simile, add a comparison, or even use opposites. The result means the reader won't stop to have to puzzle out what the writer actually meant. After all, readers are not mind readers. They only have the words on a page to go by. So, to make your writing vivid, considering adding the above word list to your revision Cheat Sheet. You do have a check list for revising, don't you?
Stop back on September 1 for a few words on Ellipses.
# # #