We’ve all heard the phrase about seeing the world through rose-colored glasses. If you haven’t, you’ve been in your writing cave too long. It’s time to come out. :)
I know it may sound cliché, but I think we all see the world through our own special glasses, colored by our experiences. Whether this makes the lenses blue, green, orange, brown, or pink, we all have our own realities.
I recently changed over my vehicle registration from Arizona to Idaho. In Arizona, you only get one license plate and it goes on the back of your vehicle. In Idaho, you get two—front and back. Since I’ve never had a front plate, I had no bracket, so I headed down to the local auto parts store to purchase one. They didn’t have one that would fit my truck, but the clerk there was nice enough to give me directions to a local junk yard that would have what I needed. Everyone is SO nice here—like going out of their way to be nice kind of nice. Very strange for me. Anyway.
These are the clerks exact directions (as I remember them, anyway): He pointed to the nearest road, “You turn down this road here, and it’s quite a ways down, almost to the end, but they always have the best prices so it should be worth the drive.”
So I’m thinking it’s going to be a fifteen or twenty minute drive. Keep in mind, the Phoenix metro area is over eighty miles east to west and over fifty north to south. I’m used to driving long distances to get places. That’s not even considering that our house there was seven miles from civilization anyway. Here though, the closest store is half a mile from my house, and the entire town couldn’t be more than ten miles east to west. I’m not so sure about north to south, though it couldn’t be that much bigger.
Still, the clerk made it sound like it was SO far. Besides, they have little towns scattered everywhere, and he didn’t specify that it was actually in Idaho Falls, so it was possible that it was farther out. Yeah, well, it wasn’t. I turned the corner, drove two miles and there it was. Two miles. Not even a five minute drive. Like I said, it’s all about perspective.
This got me thinking about how a reader may perceive something in my writing. I’m notorious for being vague about distances and sizes. I’ve been trying to be more specific, but it’s difficult to slip the info in there without it coming across as boring. Besides, I have to wonder if half the stuff is even something my narrator would notice or care enough about to know the exact measurement.
To be honest, my descriptions in general are pretty vague. I’m working on that. That’s my major weak point that I was dying to use that BUT for yesterday. What? Motivational Monday is over. I’m free to be negative again for six more days. :)
So what do you all think? Is it important to be specific about everything in our writing? Or is it okay to be vague sometimes?