Thursday, May 14, 2009

Writing description is like a cookout

Laughing. Okay, I have to admit, my second biggest love is BBQ. I am a lifelong Memphian after all! We do BBQ around here and this week is BBQ Heaven. The Memphis in May BBQ cookoff is going on.

It's all anyone around here is talking about, it is all we can do to keep from gnawing our arms off as we imagine the glorious smells down by the mighty Mississippi River where everyone is wheeling their grills, and firing up the mesquite. Oh, the tang of sauce so fragrant! The zing of dry rub every where!

The crowds will be huge, and every one will be eating, eating, eating!

What has this got to do with writing? Well, gee whiz you guys, didn't you smell the smoke? Taste the food? See the crowds?

Writing description is like a BBQ cookoff. You have to have all the right ingredients in just the right amounts, and you have to use a SLOW hand to make it turn out perfectly. Just ask any Memphis in May BBQ cookoff winner what their secret is and they will tell you, slow cooking, and best ingredients.

Make your reader see it, hear it, smell it, taste it, and you will keep them reading forever. It's sorta important for them to be able to get into the story through the things you show them. SHOW. So... get those pens ready! Be prepared to take your reader to a place and bring it alive right before their very eyes.

It's not as easy as it sounds, either! Try to do all this and not use tired, cliched language.

I could say, Memphis BBQ is sweet, spicy and tart. But did that make your mouth water? Not like, the ribs are slow cooked until the drippings sizzle over the mesquite smoked fire, and the sauce is dribbled over it giving rise to a fragrant smoke that can be smelled for a mile in any direction. Now that makes even THIS old time BBQ lover drool, and I wasn't really trying hard!

Imagine what you can accomplish with a thesaurus by your elbow as you write!

As for me, I am off to raid the fridge. All this talk of food is making me rumbly in my tumbly :)


Marta Stephens said...

What a clever analogy!! Yum. :)

Sheila Deeth said...

Fun analogy, though it sounds like maybe my husband should be doing the writing as I'm terrified of fire and can barely approach the BBQ when it's lit.

s.w. vaughn said...

Mmm, bbq!

Great examples of description. And now I wanna roast some marshmallows... :-)

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Kim, you're right on here. I'm a huge proponent of making my readers taste, smell, feel, hear, touch everything in the scene. If they don't feel like they're "there," then I've not done my job!

I just got back from a week in the Adirondacks, where I ate like crazy. Now I'm hungry again, thank you very much! LOL!