Greetings, fellow wordsmiths and literary enthusiasts! 📚✨ Today, we delve into the enchanting realm of descriptive writing as we unravel the brilliance of Andrew Sean Greer’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “Less.” This literary gem not only defies convention by injecting humor into its pages but also serves as a rich source of inspiration for crafting vivid and compelling descriptions.
An Example of a Great Description
I remember Arthur Less in his youth. I was twelve or so and very bored at an adult party. The apartment itself was all in white, as was everyone invited, and I was given some kind of colorless soda and told not to sit on anything. The silver-white wallpaper had a jasmine-vine repetition that fascinate me for long enough to notice that every three feet, a little bee was kept from landing on a flower by the frozen nature of art.
The Beauty in Layers and Specificity
What makes this passage so captivating? It’s the layers and specificity. Greer invites readers into a world where ambiguity lingers in the phrase “everyone invited.” Is it a description of the attire of the guests, or is it a subtle commentary on race? The details unfold, revealing a sterile ambiance, an adult space not designed for the whimsy of children.
Then, the silver-white wallpaper emerges, adorned with a jasmine vine repetition. It’s not just a visual feast; it’s a commentary on frozen nature. The tiny bee, suspended every 3ft, introduces a dance that transcends the pages. The frozen nature of art denies the bee its rightful perch on the flower, a poignant metaphor beautifully encapsulated in a few lines.
The Power of Specificity
What can we, as writers, glean from Greer’s masterful use of descriptive language? The answer lies in specificity. The first draft is the playground where generic placeholders find their space. Skinny as a soda straw, fast as a steam engine – they serve a purpose. However, it’s in the editing phase that we unearth the gems, the details that make our descriptions uniquely ours.
When we describe a tree, it’s not about settling for the clip art version. It’s about nestling our readers’ minds in the crags of the roots of an old oak tree, feeling the rugged bark against their backs as light filters through tiny waxy leaves. It’s about transcending clichés and finding the one detail that captures the essence of our vision.
The Journey to Finding Your Voice
As writers, we are often told that there are no new stories, only new ways of telling them. Greer’s work serves as a testament to this. “Less” follows a man on a journey, a theme explored in countless books, yet it stands out because of the descriptions. The details, the nuances, the voice – these are the elements that make a story uniquely ours.
Finding our voice as writers is a journey of discovery. It’s about looking past the generic and delving into the recesses of our minds to uncover descriptions that resonate with our stories. The way Greer describes New York would differ significantly from how each of us would. And that’s the beauty of it – our voice emerges not just in the plot but in the way we perceive and convey the world we’ve created.
Embrace Your Voice
In the tapestry of fiction, descriptions are the threads that weave a unique pattern. They require effort, a conscious decision to move beyond the generic to embrace the challenge of creating descriptions that are uniquely ours.
So, fellow storytellers, as you embark on your writing journey, let Greer’s lessons resonate. Dive into the world of specificity, find your voice, and let your descriptions be the beacon that guides readers through the extraordinary landscapes you create.