***This post is the sixth in a series of eight weekly exercises designed to take our short stories from rough draft to finished "masterpiece"(or as close as we can get ;-) with the help of the late John Gardner and a host of other well-known authors and teachers. Click here for Part I ***
- Make the decision to capture whatever it is you’re trying to describe. Set a trap.
- Identify details you don’t need for this capturing. Ordinary details are your enemy.
- Look to unusual details to capture the big picture. Unusual details let readers do work.
- Lie, cheat, and steal. Do whatever you have to. You don’t necessarily capture the truth by being truthful.
- Trust the reader. Don’t explain something after you’ve captured it. “Over-explaining takes all the power away from [the] authenticating detail. Avoid that by letting the reader figure things out for himself.”