Be Precise

When you’re telling a story, they say that “God is in the details.”  In other words, the more details you feed your reader, the easier it is for that reader to enter your fictive universe and become engrossed in your universe.

Too often, writers throw out abstract details and expect the reader to fill in the blanks.  You might say something like, “A bird flew overhead.”  Well, there are all kinds of birds, all kinds of habitats.  A green parrot that flies over your head, squawking as it does so, attracts a lot of attention.  A sparrow might flit past nervously.  I once had a great horned owl mistake my brother’s stocking cap for a rabbit, and it attacked quite viciously.  (I was fooling around with a coyote call at the time, which makes a sound like a wounded rabbit.)  So when you say that “a bird” flew overhead, I don’t know what the devil you really mean.

Similarly, if you say that a man wore “pants,” I really only have a very general idea of what you’re saying.  I went into a restaurant in Scotland and was refused service once because I was wearing Levi’s.  In a proper restaurant there, apparently, you need to be wearing woolen slacks.  But “pants” can even be vaguer than that.  A pirate who is wearing those silk bloomers can be said to be wearing pants.  A Swiss climber wearing lederhosen is also wearing pants.  So you need to be precise.

Men are often terrible at colors.  They’ll say that something is “white” when it is really eggshell or ivory or titanium.  “Blue” is everything from aquamarine to wine.  Gentlemen, learn your colors.

So avoid abstractions.  There are levels that you can go to, from general to specific.

Bird—hawk—red-tailed hawk.
Car—sedan—powder-blue Toyota Corolla.

Always choose the most-specific combination unless you have a good reason not to.  For example, let’s say you’re telling a story about a man who is walking out of a hotel and as he does, a doorman rushes out with an umbrella and keeps him dry until he can hail a Taxi.  The story isn’t about the doorman, so we don’t need to know that his name is Eugene Wells.  In fact, to tell the reader so would suggest that Eugene is going to play a major role in your story, rather than just hold an umbrella for thirty seconds.  So it would be a violation of storytelling etiquette to tell us that his name is Eugene Wells, but we might want to know that he’s wearing a cardinal-colored jacket and black slacks as part of his uniform.

God is in the details.


From one of our followers, Carl Gundestrup, in response to the children’s literacy video I shared last time:

I watched the video you posted on Children’s literacy. I have a very unique children’s Read-Along audio adventure series. “Tales of Davy Jones” – Episode 1 Quetzalcoatl” My original idea was for kids who hate to read – reading challenged or special needs. The full cast -music and sfx are designed to entice kids to “Watch with their Ears & See with their Imaginations”. The unabridged E-book is basically “THE REST OF THE STORY.” The audio version script is basically 80 pages. The E-book is 186. Once you hook kids on the story then you get them to just R-E-A-D the rest of the story. All the really cool stuff that wasn’t in the audio version.

*”Tales From Captain Davy Jones Locker”  episode 1 “Quetzalcoatl”* is a 3 CD set  – 2 hours in length. It features an  *Full Cast of 22 Actors – Fully Orchestrated Original Music – Film Quality Sound Effects *-  Available in *3 formats.*

This original story is designed to *ENTICE children to LISTEN CAREFULLY – VISUALIZE and to ENGAGE THEIR IMAGINATION.* As our hero Garrett is a boy with only one leg, it’s a fantastic tool to help children with challenges – who hate to read – reading challenged – Special needs – Need a change of pace.


Garrett Spencer has one leg, no friends, never been to a real school, and lives with his family in a cave. The family has moved to Shiloh’s Island, known for pirates, treasure caves and legendary sea monsters. Shortly after they arrive, Garrett rescues the legendary feathered sea creature Quetzalcoatl, from the ravages of a hurricane and certain death. For the first time in his life, Garrett has a best friend. Together they will attempt to battle the bullies of the island – find treasure – survive multiple attacks by Sea Dragons and save his father’s career so they can remain on the island together.

*1.  3 CD set  24.95 AUDIO ONLY*

2.  *MP4 Read-along Digital download* (computers – tablets – smartphones) With a free *52-page workbook* created by 2-time teacher of the year Judy Brewer. www.talesofdavyjones.com  The READ-ALONG MP4 DIGITAL DOWNLOAD

Tales of Davy Jones – Quetzalcoatl helps Children to not only develop *listening skills* but *word recognition – spelling – grammar – vocabulary – syntax *- but probably most important, to *connect words with images in their minds.* Boys especially are slower to develop visualization skills. Studies have shown that if boys are not reading to grade level by the 3rd grade often they will be behind their entire lives.

3. * UNABRIDGED 186 page E-Book* “Garrett and the Feathered Serpent Quetzalcoatl” http://goo.gl/4oiW1x (Amazon)  After children are hooked on the original audio version (80 scripted pages) The E-book was created to ENCOURAGE CHILDREN TO *KEEP READING* and learn “*THE REST OF THE STORY” of Quetzalcoatl*

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