Most journeys begin with the first step, possibly a step into the unknown or a leisurely stroll down familiar streets. A poet’s journey, on the other hand, begins with the first observation. Poets tend to walk in lockstep with the old adage, “look before you leap,” and if you should find yourself tumbling through space, be sure to capture your observations of those experiences using concise, powerful language that invokes descriptive images.
For the past four years, a group of poets have been meeting at the Edmonds Library on the second Tuesday of the month to create, critique, improve, and share their poetic observations. This monthly gathering is free and is sponsored by the cooperative efforts of EPIC Group Writers and Sno-Isle Libraries. All are welcome.
The poetry group is comprised of curious individuals who share diverse thoughts highlighted by different life experiences. The outcome of our gatherings consistently produce thought-provoking poems that sometimes elicit tears, laughter, or on rare occasions, a few good-natured, but heated, disagreements.
As poets we see, smell, touch, and feel our way through life. Somethings that we encounter are experienced at the surface, some are ethereal, and some hide in the deep, dark crevices of our underpinnings.
We observe, digest and express. A life ignored is a life lost. A life observed is a life lived. For us, poetry is a journey best spent in the company of fellow travelers.
Gerald Bigelow was published in the Arizona Centennial Anthology and in Between the Lines. He is a board member for EPIC Group Writers and chairs a monthly poetry group, and edited and contributed to Soundings from the Salish Sea (A Pacific Northwest Poetry Anthology).
In 2019, Bigelow was selected to read his poetry with the Washington State Poet Laureate. He helped establish a bi-monthly Poet’s Corner featurette in My Edmonds News to show case the work of local poets. Bigelow has a new book of poetry on Amazon
Titled, Memories Looking Through a Screen Door.
In the excellent writer’s craft book, The Art of Character, by author David Corbett he writes, ‘describing your character kills her.’ I agree. Descriptions can suck the joy out of a reader’s experience, and reveal a writer’s limited imagination.
When describing female characters in particular, try to avoid a laundry list type of description; blonde, blue-eyed, long-legged, busty…Instead, or in addition, give some insight into who she actually is, her soul, heart, or essence.
Avoid the stereotypes. For example, “she’s attractive even without the makeup” or “stunning despite her age” or worse, “was good-looking 10 years ago” or any other worn-out, exhausted, condescending, and overused physical descriptor. If there is something about her presence that is significant to the story, or that makes her unique, then yes, please share, otherwise give your readers the gift of using their imagination.
When describing your characters consider their essence;
Sasha’s hair was as red hot as her temper. Tie the descriptor to a character attribute (temper).
Gabby’s eyes were emerald fire. That gives us an insight into her soul (passion, sexuality, enthusiasm, etc.).
Kendra’s hair was palm-oil slick, her skin celestial black, she moved across the room like a Nubian queen. This gives us insight as to color of character, attitude, and beauty.
All of those above examples create images in the reader’s imaginative mind.
When writing your character descriptions be creative, use metaphor or simile. Consider combining physical descriptors with movements and gestures, or using your characters action to reveal who they are. Be creative; give insights and essence statements so your readers can enjoy the journey of character discovery.
Post by author, writing instructor, and EPIC board Member, Mindy Halleck
We have such a variety of writers in our organization that we thought it would be fun, exciting and enlightening to have multiple blog post authors.
We will be sharing all sorts of writing-related topics!