Part 2: Did you check your manuscript for…specificity?

currently playing on my iPod: Freedom at 21 by Jack White

My last post dipped us into Browne and King’s SELF EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS. Today we’ll tap some deliciousness from Noah Lukeman’s THE FIRST FIVE PAGES. This book is a keeper, folks. If you haven’t read it, do it. Now. Yesterday.

In the fourth chapter, Lukeman brings up the topic of Specificity. He states that “Specificity is what distinguishes poor from good from brilliant writing. As a writer, you must train your mind to be above all, exacting.”

Such details require serious research and/or experience. But it’s worth the trouble.

In my current project, my MC has some give and take with a conservation association. Rather than saying that the group wants to protect some rare bird, I use the exact name, the Dartford Warbler. With such true details, readers know an educated somebody is leading them through the story. It gives the author clout. The readers relax into the tale and are more apt to fall smiling into the more far-fetched scenes of the book.

Not only does the specificity bring the story to life and make it more believable, it also satisfies readers’ secondary desire to learn. Even when they’re primarily after entertainment, readers want to pick up new info. Through details, the story becomes a full experience.

Writers, if you don’t believe Lukeman, try it. Test it.

And get back to me after you finish today’s to do list. I mean, after take your overweight pug to the vet and pick the kids up from their talent show practice.

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