Zadie Smith’s ON BEAUTY: telling the story through sensory detail Reply

In this video we look at two descriptions of the same place, which appear at different stages of Zadie Smith’s On Beauty. Although the place is the same, Smith is able to advance the story just by changing the sensory details on which she and her characters focus. Being able to do this, to show rather than tell, to use concrete description as an essential part of the story rather than a background, is central to how most writers work. But do remember that mimesis is not the only way to tell the story: there are many alternatives to the cinematic mode of narration.

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Describing your world: the importance of being selective (tip 53) 2

Why is it that bikinis are sexy and naturism isn’t? Why do we never get to see the Blair Witch? And who cares whether your protagonist has attached earlobes? D.D. Johnston discusses the importance of being selective when describing your fictional world.

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