Danielle Capalbo’s Blog

The things you see

Posted in Miscellaneous, Photos by Quiet Giant on May 4, 2009

I cherish writing guides, like this one, and this. Even when I don’t internalize all the advice collected inside them, it’s fun to read how other people get it done.

A couple of years ago, I came across one of my favorite tips.  It seems obvious now, but sometimes it’s most important to reinforce the simplest ideas: When you’re writing about someone or someplace, work like a camera. Describe what you see as if you were capturing that moment for someone else to look at. Of course, there should be a hierarchy of details, depending upon the context of your description. But don’t inject too many adjectives; just present the picture.

To make his (or her?) point, the essayist talked about people’s desks. Now, we have the ability to dictate our public appearance online by choosing what books or movies to list as favorites on Facebook or MySpace, but forever, people have done the same thing, sometimes unconsciously and certainly more significantly, by simply putting things in their offices. From photographs to stray papers, the minutiae of everyday life are the best inanimate storytellers. These details can be harnessed to make a point without having to hit smart readers over the head with obvious stuff.

So, that was a pretty long-winded way of posting these:

Katie's pouch of stuff on the plane ride to Frankfurt.

Katie's pouch of stuff on the plane ride to Frankfurt.

Mine.

Mine.

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