I’m not published or anything, but I have been writing for a while. And over the years, you begin to pick up tips and tricks about what works versus what doesn’t. You hear authors explain that this works or that does; you figure out strong writing from what you read, whether you’re consciously studying a text or not; and little tidbits trickle down to you from the most unlikely of places.
Pinterest, for me, didn’t start as a writing tool.
I mostly used it to indulge my grandiose chef delusions. Or to find fan-art. Or learn how to dress myself because my friends kept telling me that yoga pants weren’t appropriate for the workplace (which, I mean, I still don’t completely understand why not, but oh well).
Writing advice began to sprout through the cracks of my Pinterest account, as if it knew that I dabbled by magic. Most of it was advice I’d already picked up at workshops or reading blogs by already published authors.
Some of it was new, offering tips on things I’d never thought of before.
I (like I’m sure many of you Pinterst users can attest to) failed to pin this particular little gem. So I’m afraid I can’t afford credit. But it was a simple little snapshot of someone’s Tumblr with this advice:
“When you start to describe someone, start with their shoes.”
The longer I thought about it, the more sense it made. Authors, especially in YA, start with hair and eye color. And yeah, I love me a dark-haired-blue-eye-Greek-god as much as the next girl, but if you really want to get to the heart of a person, if you really want to see their character shining through, then start by describing their shoes.
Are they designer or off-brand?
Are they well-worn or brand new?
Are they made with a loud pattern or color, or more soft and demure?
Are they scuffed up?
Do they even have shoes?
What material are she shoes made out of?
Are they more for fashion or more for functionality?
Picture this: A man sits at a bus stop. He wears black shoes, the kind your father always wore to church or work. But they’re old, the inky blackness dulled to a dark gray and the soles worn thin. Yet, despite their age, they’ve been well-taken care of.
Beside him sits another man. He’s wearing black combat boots, fit snug. The shoelaces are tied perfectly, the ends of either side the exact same length, as if he measured before leaving the house. A well-known designer logo sits over the ankle of the boot, black on black.
We’ve got three sentences describing the shoes of each man. Nothing else is described. And yet, reading these few lines, I’ve already formed ideas about these two men. In my mind, I see what kind of person they are because of their shoes and how they’ve interacted with them. I have guesses as to their jobs, their lifestyles, their personalities. And all from three lines each about their respective shoes.
Much better than describing their hair color, right?
What kind of men do you think they are? Comment below!