I was leafing through a poetry anthology the other day, looking for ideas for mini fiction (stories of exactly 100 words), when I chanced upon a wonderful description of a winter scene by Wallace Stevens from “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.”
Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.
What a marvelous description. You get the feeling of where you are and what you are seeing from three simple lines. If you can find unusual details such as these for your description of a winter scene, and if you can write them as succinctly, you will satisfy both readers who like poetic descriptions and those who prefer brief descriptions.
Another few lines from the same work that describes a winter scene:
It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.
I wish I had written “It was evening all afternoon.” I know I’ve been there and felt that, just never found the words.
One of my favorite haiku (favorite perhaps because it’s the only one I remember) is called November:
No sky at all
No earth at all
And still the snowflakes fall.
Beautiful and succinct.
So how do I describe a winter scene? I know I said not to expect me to tell you what I learned about winter from taking a walk, but what the heck. It’s certainly no secret. Since I look down at my feet so I don’t slip and fall, I saw lots of tire tracks.
These tractor tracks caught my eye. Beautiful and perfect in their own way. Now if I can evoke an entire world from a short description of these tracks, I will be on my way to becoming a master wordsmith.
Luckily for me, though, my WIP takes place in the summer.
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.