Using Descriptive Detail

Example: Add Sound

Grandmother Workman lurched over and grabbed the pale skin of Randal's thin forearm with her leathery hand. The folds and creases beneath her skin coiled themselves out like electrical wiring, like the bloated, roughly-textured relief map of the world that his mother just posted above his bedside table. Randal looked ahead toward the winding spiral staircase, fidgeted with a small hole in his baseball jersey, and bit his lip. His mouth filled with the sweet, coppery taste of blood as she leaned in closely toward him, breathing her hot breath on the damp hair at the base of his neck. She smelled of wet cigarettes and bacon. As they slowly climbed the long, steep staircase, the only sound was his grandmothers' labored breathing and the mournful creak of the wooden stairs.

Comment: The human sense of hearing is an important means of communication. Next to visual details, auditory details are most commonly included in writing. This is because sounds give us a primary experience of the world. Sounds can remind us of personal memories, or can create images in our minds. For example, the sound of a ship's whistle might remind a person of a summer's night in New England, or of a tour of duty in the military. Sounds recreate personal, sensory experiences.

The addition of auditory details gives the writer the opportunity to create a more detailed, layered, texture. In the sample text, the writer has incorporated references to sounds which allow the reader to infer the state of the old staircase, as well as the physical condition of the grandmother.

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