Greetings, Friends ~
There is a certain feeling one gets when reading well-written prose. If done carefully, a story can take us right into its pages. As writers, the manner in which we connect words on paper is important. We are ever striving to give our readers an imaginary passage which will transport them to the scene.
Evidence of great nonfiction work lies in whether it has the ability to spark emotion in the reader. Worthy fiction allows one to visualize the scene and characters we introduce in its early chapters. Regardless the subject matter or genre, writers need to become artists of mental imagery.
To accomplish this in my work, I travel with my camera and consider it just as important as my notebook and pen. Whether I focus on a clock tower in Atlanta, a country roadside stream or the dramatic rock cliffs of Coastal Oregon, I will find use for those images later. It has become a vital part of my research process.
Pictures help me construct sentences intended to recreate scenic locations for a subsequent manuscript. In fact, every state and country I have visited is aptly memorialized in my digital albums. Twenty photographs may result in the production of only one, single paragraph. It is time well spent. The importance of “show, don’t tell” cannot be overstated when writing publishable work.
To show an example in the difference between show and tell, I submit the following:
There is a long road with an old steel guard rail that stretches alongside its entire length. Steel hand rails are on either side. The yellow paint on the railing is old and started chipping off years ago. The steel is bolted to a concrete foundation which is covered in brown, dying moss. At what appears to be the end of that road is a forest. It is built over Detroit Dam and goes on to take a sharp turn at the edge of a line of trees. If you It continue on that road, it will take you closer to the forest where you can find other places to access Detroit Lake.
An aging road spans between Route 22 and the massive Douglas firs, mighty oaks and tall pine trees of the Willamette National Forest. Providing safe access for sightseers and fishermen to cross Detroit Dam, this area also boasts a breathtaking backdrop for even the most novice photographer.
Browning moss clings to massive concrete structures that border each side of this passage. Steel railing intended for the safety of onlookers is aptly bolted down for those who dare lean over it. Without it, getting a closer look at the North Santiam River’s swift water some 1,500 feet below may be a death wish.
Chipping yellow paint tells the story of this time and weather-worn structure. Standing at one end of the road looking toward the opposite side of the dam, it seems that the Pacific Northwest wooded areas stretch all the way to forever.
Good writing takes a lot of research and attention to detail. It is an intensely time-consuming craft, but well worth the effort. Authors who make an effort to master these skills will produce publishable and competitive work. They will be writing right.