Friday, August 27, 2010

Spiff Up Those Descriptive Words

One of the women in my critique group gave a critique on the revised version of a poem I've been working on. Sarah noted that I used some colors of the flowers in Monet's garden, which is the subject of the poem. I used purple, tawny gold and deep pink. She scolded me saying she knew I could come up with better than that. She agreed that the tawny gold was alright, but she thought the other two needed some work.

I had to agree with her. I hesitated over it when I wrote it but didn't know what else to use. When I wrote the first draft, I only used the colors, nothing to describe it. In the revision I added tawny to gold and deep to pink. I have to admit there is nothing very graceful and poetic about the adjective deep. So what will I do?

The first place I'll turn to for help is my trusty Thesaurus. Time and again, it's helped me find a better word than an ordinary one I may have used. How about blush-rose or roseate? I like the first, hate the second. How many people would even know what roseate is? I could change purple  to shades of lavender or violet or perhaps royal purple.


Maybe I could use something like rich purple and pleasing pink. And maybe using something like that smacks of either cliche or sickeningly sweet writing.

It all comes down to finding a trouble spot and attempting to find a solution. Believe me, it's not always easy. These are only a few little words in a fairly lengthy poem, but having it done right can make the difference in whether it's ever published or not. It's the same with an essay or short story. Picking the right descriptive words can make a difference. Forget the mundane. Forget the cliche. Go for something richer and memorable.

I'm going to sort out descriptive words for those colors all day and hope by this evening that I've found ones that are better. Whether prose or poetry, it seems the writing goes on and on. It shouldn't stop until the writer feels satisfied. My next job today is to send a thank you to Sarah for pointing out the trouble spot in my poem.

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