Literary Liaisons

A blog about writing and all things story…

Ground your writing in the details.

Rare event: Davis in a suit!
Yesterday I had the pleasure of helping my 16 year-old grandson
craft his first resume.  His goal is to work in a snowboard shop.
My grandson lives for snowboarding and skateboarding. I had
him write down a list of all his skills, his experience and background.
The child has worked maybe twice in his life, so we had to get creative.
We documented his 2-year career; his dads body shop washing
cars (Auto Detailer) and the times he worked with me in the
yard (Landscaper). So, that was his work experience (he’s only 16)
 and then we added that he excels in math, and gave his math teacher and myself as references. Okay, done with the mundane stuff. Then we launched into his real experience and that’s when I realized how much my grandson knows about snowboarding and how little he knows about how to express himself in a way that gets his point across.

It went something like this:

Me: “Tell me what you know about snowboarding.”
Davis: “I pretty much know it all.”
Me: “Really? You know everything?”
Davis: “Yep.”
Me: “Okay let’s break it ‘all’ down into particulars, for example if I wrote a scene and said it’s a beautiful day in Kirkland, what do you learn from that?”
Davis: “Huh?”
Me: “Okay, if instead of ‘it’s beautiful outside’ I said; “the sky was blue, the vintage wood boats gathered for sunset along the beach cove, kayakers floated along the rocky edge of the landing’s gazebo, and the smell of ice cream wafted through the air as tanned teenage girls strolled up and down the boulevard with their real Gucci bags slung over their rail thin arms wearing low cut blouses and high cut shorts.” So what if I said that instead?
Davis: “Then I’d want to go outside.”

Just then yet another throng of scantily clad teen girls walked by, noticing my handsome grandson, making eye contact. It took a few minutes to get him back, but back he came and we continued.

Me: “Exactly! Davis….Davis….okay, I’ll wait.” He stared, no fell into a stupor gazing out the window. I don’t think I’m exaggerating but there’s a lot of teen girls in Kirkland who I swear have had boob jobs, implants, whatever. They’re spray tanned, manicured and dressed in clothes the cost of which could feed a small village somewhere. By the looks of Kirkland Washington on an August night, you’d never know the financial world as we know it was in free fall. And I guarantee you that if Jay Leno took his microphone to Kirkland and asked roaming residents questions about it, they’d look at him like he was an alien. I’m done….   
Me: “Davis!”
Davis: “What?”
Me: “You back now?”
Davis: “What?”
Me: “Okay, it’s all in the way you write it. When you say to me you know ‘everything’ it’s like saying it’s a beautiful day. There’s nothing there to paint a picture or make me care or make me want to go outside or to hire you.”
So, we continued to revamp his ‘I know everything’ statement and I actually saw a big light go on in his head when we were done. That light was sparked because of the word crafting; a skill he’d never given much thought to until it made him look good.
Davis: “That’s cool. How’d you do that?”
Me: “I’m a writer knucklehead. You may know ‘everything’ about snowboarding, but I know a thing or two about words.”
Davis: “Oh yeah. Cool.”
So for Davis’s “I know everything’ statement we created a long paragraph explaining some of that ‘everything’.

Ø    Hobbies & Expertise:

Snowboarding: I’ve been a snowboard enthusiast for the last 9 years and a skateboarder for 10. I have vast knowledge on snowboards from the Burton T6 to a Capita Horrorscope. For example, I know the difference between what board is good for everything and what boards are good for only certain types of riding; park, powder, and groomed runs. I have snowboarded Stephens Pass, Mission Ridge, the Loop-Loop, Mt. Hood, and Summit at Snoqualmie. Currently I own 2 Burton boards, a 2010 Burton 157 Custom (Camber)and 2008 Burton Dom 159 (Camber). At Stephens Pass, I aided The Park Crew in design implementation and completion of the Top Flight Park jumps, rails, boxes and jibable features.  

Now, I don’t know a darn thing about snowboards and ‘jibable features’, but I do know that if I went to buy one, say for my grandson, I’d need that dude to help me.


So why do you care? Because when you’re writing a scene (or a resume), don’t just say it’s a beautiful day, show me. Ground it in the details. Paint a picture that makes me want to go outside, or hire you. It’s all in the crafting. We all know that, yet I still see (and commit) writing that lacks the imagery to make it come alive.  Check out Jack Remick & Bob Ray’s article, Writing Word Pictures  

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One comment on “Ground your writing in the details.

  1. Tara
    August 11, 2011

    That's really good, glad you guys had fun….; )

Comments are closed.

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This entry was posted on August 11, 2011 by in Uncategorized.
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