file under less is more

A hand, a foot, a leg, a head,
Stood for the whole to be imaginèd.
(Shakespeare, The Rape of Lucrece, ll. 1427-8)

What if you write a scene of sex, violence, or intense emotion and focus only on one of the character’s body parts? Oh stop, not the obvious ones either. And yeah, I’m being silly with the crab legs. Have some fun, for goodness sake.

What would happen if you select just one of the senses and focused an entire scene through it?


Kilgore: I love the smell of napalm in the morning.


As far as sensory detail goes, the sense of smell is often overlooked. Writing can gain power not only with focus, but with the specific. Simple words can pack the most punch. Try zeroing in on only what your character smells in a paragraph and see where it takes you. It needn’t be as dark as Apocalypse Now, but it can be just as memorable.

Aaron Gansky discusses deeply imagining over at his blog. Check it out, then spend some time daydreaming (purposeful daydreaming, that is). Then of course, you have to write it down.

If you get tripped up by rules, take a look at what it perhaps the best copy editing blog out there, The Subversive Copy Editor. Now then, no more excuses. Go write.

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