Saturday, August 27, 2011

Knowing Our Writing Weaknesses

blog1aMy friends are, generally, nice people, but they do laugh at one particular handicap I have.

I can’t for the life of me describe anything to do with fashion.

For a teenage girl it was fairly crippling. “Elizabeth, what are you wearing to Cotillion?”

I’d pause. “It’s blue.”

You can imagine the tittering that followed. :)

When my bridesmaids asked me what types of dresses they’d be wearing, I said, “They’re pretty inexpensive. They’re sundresses.”

It wasn’t what they’d asked. I did notice that when they were describing their own Cotillion dresses or wedding gowns or bridesmaids dresses, they’d use terms like “tea length,” and “V-neck” and “tulle.”

I don’t care much about fashion, and it’s pretty obvious. :)

I’m not writing catalog copy (thank goodness), but I am writing books that women will read. And I know many women like at least some sort of an idea what characters are wearing. Plus, clothing can be an indicator as to a person’s profession or give some insights into them as a character (I’m wincing wondering what my clothes say about me…).

So I’ve spent a good deal of time reading ad copy and catalog copy for clothing companies.

I’ve also gone to paint store sites to read their descriptions of color and texture.

I’ve visited curtain manufacturer websites, oriental rug websites…you name it. I’ve tried to get a feel for descriptive language from people who use it to sell products.

There are also sites like The Bookshelf Muse which help connect writers with descriptive terms for colors and textures.

The important thing, I think, is knowing where our writing weaknesses lie. Because there are so many ways we can learn how to overcome them.

Got any writing weaknesses? How are you addressing them?