Saturday, July 24, 2010

Worthless descriptions



A good measure of a writer is how well he describes something. Without the ability to paint a picture for the reader, a writer is just doing stenography.
The person who typed in Global Watch is not a writer. That's why I've steadfastly refused to call him anything but "the person who typed in Global Watch." Still, his attempts at writing, especially description, continue to appall me with their laziness and ineptitude. Like this paragraph.

Let's work through this together.
How did she give him the number? Does she carry a notepad? A little description would be nice.
But the phrase "large military-grade transport vehicle" really cuts me. Deeply. When people ask you how you get to work, do you say, "I took my mid-sized consumer-grade road vehicle"? Or "I caught the scheduled multi-seat railcar transport"? It's a freakin' helicopter, Global Watch! You've already told us that, so if you want to describe it, use words like "Kazan" or "Eurocopter," or "gray." "Large military-grade transport vehicle" doesn't tell the audience anything at all.
In an article about Global Watch in an alumni magazine, I found this statement:
Using short, fast-paced chapters, Ziebert says “the characters, not a descriptive narrative, drive the story.”

That's a cop-out if ever there was. For one, the narrative IS the story. The characters fit into the narrative. A good writer makes it all work together. Then, to say, "F*** it, I'm not going to describe anything" is the height of indolence and incompetence. This statement about "descriptive narratives" driving the story leads me to believe the person who typed in Global Watch read those words in a review on the back of a Tom Clancy novel and thought they sounded good. But I don't think Tom Clancy would describe a helicopter as a "large military-grade transport vehicle."

1 comment:

  1. I’m looking forward to what you have to say on the move and the issues a lot of us face when making changes.

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