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be specific

When I read fiction I like to savor the author’s style (or voice, or way with words). If words are ingredients in a story soup, then specifics are some of the most flavorful spices. Great writers spice things up with bold specifics that grab readers and don’t let them go.

Here are four instructive excerpts, two from Young Adult fiction and two from literary and contemporary genre fiction. Highlighted words are those I’ve marked as notably specific:

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1. From Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games:

“I slowly peel and eat a handful of nuts. My last cracker. The groosling neck. That’s good because it takes time to pick clean. Finally, a groosling wing and the bird is history. But it’s a hollow day, and even with all that I start daydreaming about food. Particularly the decadent dishes served in the Capitol. The chicken in creamy orange sauce. The cakes and pudding. Bread with butter. Noodles in green sauce. The lamb and dried plum stew. I suck on a few mint leaves and tell myself to get over it.”

handful – you can picture a handful. It is a specific amount.

A poor choice might have been: “some.” Continue reading