Descriptive Writing Challenge
One of the areas I need work on in my fiction writing is in describing my characters and scenes. The problem is that I don’t do it, at least not very much. The most common complaint from my beta readers and editors is that my writing lacks enough description to give them full immersion. This challenge is primarily to help me get better at descriptive writing, but I got to thinking that there may be others who are in need of such practice, or just want to take part in the challenge to spice up their writing time. The overall commitment should be around 30-45 minutes a day for 30 days, depending on how fast your write.
Recently I decided to learn to digitally paint, which is a massive undertaking. My chosen instructor is Matt Kohr from Ctrl+Paint. A particular part of his process emphasizes repetition, which strikes home with my martial arts experience. His challenge is to draw 1,00o gesture drawings, then draw 100 faces (with no time limit that I can recall). That sounds like a lot, but his gesture drawings only take 45 seconds to complete, so you could easily do 30 or 50 a day and only take up an hour of your time. You’ll hit 1,000 in no time.
For this description challenge, I’m extrapolating that idea, but with a few alterations. Writing 1,000 sentences would be quite the undertaking on it’s own (if each sentence has 10 words, that’s 10,000 words – a novelette!).
So, let’s lay it out in more manageable pieces for writing.
This challenge is for 30 days. Everyday for a month you’ll commit to a schedule of sentence and limited paragraphical writing that shouldn’t take you more than a half-hour, depending on how fast you write. You can use whatever method of writing descriptive sentences you like (I think the advice here is a good place to start, but you can follow any sort of methodology you prefer), as long as you’re describing a noun of some kind.
Focusing on one sentence for describing the subject should limit how much writing you’re doing and force you to only describe the important elements of them. But I know what you’re thinking: sometimes a sentence just doesn’t cut it. I agree, especially for important characters. However, you don’t always want to give away the farm in a single expository paragraph (or more than one <gasp>). For that reason, we’ll also have 2 descriptive paragraphs everyday, which will allow you to flex those writing muscles a little more.
Feel free to post your progress on your personal blog, favorite social media site, etc., and then post a link in the comments below so we can all take a look and get inspired.
So, are your ready?
Everyday for 30 days, write 10 one-sentence descriptions of different characters and 10 one-sentence descriptions of items or locations. After you’ve finished with that, write 2 one-paragraph descriptions – one of a character and one of an item or location.
What you’ll have there is intense practice in descriptive writing, 600 one-sentence descriptions of a noun, and 60 descriptive paragraphs by the end of the month. No matter how good you are, that level of intense practice will teach you a thing or two to better your writing – I’m depending on it!
For more clarity (lists clarify for me), that’s 30 days of:
- 10 one-sentence descriptions of characters.
- 10 one-sentence descriptions of items or locations.
- 1 paragraph description of a character.
- 1 paragraph description of an item or location.
Every day for 30 days!
The challenge begins on Sunday, September 8th (tomorrow) and ends on Monday, October 7th.
So, who’s with me? Make sure to link us to where you’re evidence lies (virtually a free link to your blog just for participating!) so we can follow your progress and get inspired by our fellow writers.
And if you’re finding this after September 8th, don’t worry about it. The magic is in the repetition, not the dates. You’re welcome to link to your progress no matter when you begin or finish (even if our challenge here is already long over).