Thursday, December 16, 2010

Specificity


"Tape the word 'SPECIFIC' to the top of your computer.
Specific details make the story become alive."
~ Dori Chaconas



While I was world building in my current MS, I thought, Yeah, that works. I can see it. The problem was, that I could see it because it was in my head. Others couldn't see it quite so clearly. I have spent draft after draft after draft working to beef up the visual details--specificity is key (and so is a good CP!).

Lynn Quitman Troyka developed the RENNS model to help keep writing more specific.  
RENNS stands for: 
  • Reasons 
  • Examples 
  • Names 
  • Numbers 
  • Senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch).
If we remember to include these items of specificity more often, our writing becomes more visual.

What technique do you use to help create stronger and more visual details in your writing?

28 comments:

Valerie Geary said...

My technique? Overwriting. :D Then I go back and edit out the nonsense, keeping only what's most important/significant to the scene.

Shannon said...

Great reminder, Shannon! I love the RENNS acronym.

If you get a chance, please swing by my blog - it's anonymous critique day!

Jessica Bell said...

Great points! Yeah, I try to make sure I've used each sense at least once in every chapter. You'll be surprised how lacking 'touch' is in most books!!! I try to use more of that. It's amazing how that one sense can transform a scene!

Frankie Diane Mallis said...

This is SO weird but I was just tweeting about how I cannot spell that word today for the life of me!

Solvang Sherrie said...

The first time through I just try to get the basics down. The next time through I start looking for ways to add specific details that bring the story to life. I like that acronym!

The Golden Eagle said...

When I'm going through the first draft, I type down everything that comes to mind, every minute detail--I can always take away the superfluous words during editing, and it helps to get a better idea of how to describe what it is I'm writing about.

Racquel Henry said...

I also have that problem...seeing things clearly because they're in my head, but then it doesn't translate to the reader. These are great tips! Thanks! :)

Susan R. Mills said...

RENNS... I like that. I usually give too much detail and then have to take a bunch out and then go back in and add more important details.

Elana Johnson said...

Oh, man, I need the RENNS on my computer. I'm not super specific on certain things. On others, I am, but yeah. I could really work on examples and names and numbers. Senses, I think, I have a grip on. Finally.

Janet Johnson said...

Details like that are my downfall. I have to go back and add them in (usually after a CP mentions how lacking my work is). :)

Kittie Howard said...

Super points, Shannon. I try to stay away from To be. The verb doesn't translate well onto the printed page.

Ohhhh, if only my head and the keyboard could connect!!

Jennie Englund said...

RENNS is brilliant!

I am going to use it up -- and teach it, too!

Jemi Fraser said...

I need to work on improving my description - I'll use some of these tips! :)

Nicole Zoltack said...

My rough drafts are usually bare bones, then I go back and add in more descriptions and settings. I add in specifics.

Corey Schwartz said...

Hmm, that's an interesting question. As a PB writer, I don't worry about it too much, because I feel that is mainly the job of the illustrator. I PURPOSELY leave a lot of details up to whoever is illustrating my book.

Carolyn V. said...

RENNS! So cool. =)I send it to my buddies to crit because I see it so much better in my head. =)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I fight the "white room" syndrome all the time! I love this list - I'm adding it to my revision checklist right now!!

In addition to sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, you can add: time, temperature, pain, balance, motion, and direction.

Roxane B. Salonen said...

This is great, Shannon. I'm working with one of my teen son's girl friends right now on her writing skills, and I'm going to steal this, if you don't mind. :)

Susan Fields said...

I mostly just try to make sure I include different senses. I'll definitely have to work on the rest of the RENNS model! Thanks for sharing this with us.

Old Kitty said...

I know I definitely need to work on using my senses even more with my wip!!!

I've not heard of the RENNS model - thanks cos this makes sense!!!! Take care
x

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I think I'm heavy on the visual sense and need to remember the sounds and smells and feel of things more. It's amazing how more developed a story is by changing generic words for more specific ones, too. Instead of he approached the woods, he approached a stand of white aspens, makes a much more vivid picture.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Great advice! I love all the little details-not a lot, but just the right ones to really pain an image.

Amber Cuadra said...

I'm totally going to use that acronym... Looks really helpful!

Raquel Byrnes said...

I like to use pictures and try to put myself in the scene. What would I see, feel, notice...smell. Hope its working. =)
Edge of Your Seat Romance

Jessica Lei said...

I definitely lack some of this specificity in my writing. AND I know it. I just need to start paying attention when I write and consciously including the details :) Good post, thank you!

Vicki Rocho said...

Guilty. Sometimes I'm just bein' lazy. I can't decide what I want *it* to be (whether it's food or clothes or music) so I gloss over and come back later to bring it into sharper focus.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Shannon -

I'm still trying to strike a balance between too many adjectives and not enough description. Thanks for the RENN model. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Rachael Harrie said...

I've never heard of the RENNS acronym before, that will come in handy ;)

I usually write a very skeletal first draft, then flesh it out in later versions.

Rach

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