Friday, 8 April 2011

When writing, be specific


That’s my word of the day.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a writing workshop where Alberta author Debby Waldman offered up some great writing tips.

One of the things she said has really stuck with me. Be specific.

For example, Sophie drove a yellow car is pretty good. But even better might be, Sophie drove a canola yellow race car. Yeah!

I’ve been thinking a lot about that as I edit the first draft of my Martyn Godfrey Young Writers’ Award short story. (Are you finished your first draft? Better hurry! The deadline is May 6, 2011.)

Of course I’ve been thinking about the colour yellow. Specifically – ha ha – canola yellow since that’s part of the contest rules. But I wanted a little more detail, so I Googled: the history of yellow.

You wouldn’t believe the things I learned!

Maybe you could use some of this trivia in your story?

Like, did you know that for years, yellow ribbons were worn as a sign of hope for women waiting for their husbands to come home from the war? Today, they’re still used to welcome loved ones.

Yellow means many different things to different people.

To the ancient Greeks, for example, yellow symbolized air.

Famous renaissance man Leonardo DaVinci wrote that yellow represented Earth.

In India, it’s the symbol of the merchant and the farmer.

And in 10th Century France (a long time ago), the doors of felons, traitors and criminals were painted yellow – great info if you’re writing a mystery.

How are you using canola yellow in your story? My advice?


I gotta jet. Later!

- Chase Superman Duffy

P.S. – Debby Waldman had a lot of great things to say about the who, what, where, when, why and how behind building a story. Click here for her list of basic questions you should answer before you finish your writing.

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