This week’s writing challenge is to focus on details:
No matter what you’re writing, whether it’s longform non-fiction essays, poems, short stories, novels, or memoirs, your powers of observation are critical to creating a scene in the reader’s mind, setting tone, and evoking the mood that helps to tell the story.
Your challenge this week is to practice your powers of observation. Take any person, place, or event, and write three paragraphs describing your subject in great detail:
A boy plays in his front yard. You have three paragraphs to help us imagine this boy. What country are we in? Which details help communicate this? Is there an elm tree or an olive tree in his yard? Maybe there is no tree at all. How old is this boy? What color is his hair? What is he wearing? You get the idea.
James sat cross-legged on the grass and took out his iPhone. No text. He angrily stuffed it back into his jean pocket. What has he supposed to do? Text her? No. She can text him. He went back to his football and continued to kick it against the side of his house. He’d already been out for the past half hour. The heat of the sun was making him feel slightly faint but he was agitated. Bloody, bloody Laura. He could feel the sweat trickling down his back, his blond hair sticking to his face. He felt a mess, but he didn’t care.
The blood coursed through his veins. Actually, it was more than coursing. It was pounding through, like an angry river determined to destroy everything in its path. He glanced down at his arms. The scars were starting to heal. The shame washed over him. He didn’t know why he did it – the pressure of the exams, Laura, his best friend – or rather – his ex-best friend. His only friend. At 6’4, he stood out like a sore thumb. He hated that. He wanted to feel… normal. He didn’t want to feel awkward at gatherings. Words usually failed him. He would stand there feeling like a lemon – the girls looked at him with pity him and the boys, well, the boys at school are arseholes.
He kicked the football harder and harder and harder. Bang, bang, bang it went against the brick wall. His black Green Day t-shirt stuck to his back. Maybe he should change out of his jeans. They too were sticking to him and they felt heavy in the sun. ‘Fuck it,’ he thought, picked up his ball and walked to his back garden. Standing on the patio, he took off his black Etnie trainers, his black socks and dark blue jeans and started to run with the ball, barefoot in his Superman pants, onto the cool grass. ‘Man of Steel’ was written on the elastic. He was a man of steel. Nothing could knock him down. Not even bloody Laura. He thought about taking off his t-shirt. He kept it on. He didn’t want the neighbours to think he was completely crazy. Besides, he could deal with sunburn on his pale legs – he could slap aftersun on it. Sunburn on his back? He didn’t fancy a painful night’s sleep.
He heard the sound of a text message from his jeans.