Monday, June 8, 2009

The Muffin Principle

This morning I ate an English muffin for breakfast.

When it came out of the toaster, the golden brown peaks stood proud. Melting butter flowed into creamy white nooks and crannies.

Trophy food at its finest - from my own kitchen.

My mouth watered in anticipation, and the first bite filled my tastebuds with wonder.

The rest was, well, an English muffin.

- - - - -

I actually ate the English muffin one day last week, but it gave me the idea for this post.

Writing of description should be like the description of last week's English muffin.

There's more I could have written about the muffin, but why?

It's round. Everyone knows that, so there's no need to tell readers what they already know.

They're messy. The corn meal falls off and scatters on the counter, and they never arrive fully sliced. When you run the knife through, bits and pieces fall out and join the corn meal.

I was aiming for mouth-watering yumminess, but had I been aiming for a funny description, I would go with the mess. Something like:

Half asleep, I pulled the muffin from the box. When I did, corn meal skittered across the counter, each grain trying to be the first to reach the floor. They all made it, most of them turning to grit between my toes. Thinking today would be a first, I tried to pry the thing apart. I succeeded in breaking off half of one side, leaving me with three-quarters of an English muffin, half a circle of doughy, untoasted bread, and a white crumb the size of a pea sitting smack in the middle of my big toe.

See how you can pick and choose what to describe?

Next time you write description, think about the lowly muffin. Keep it as an example for what you choose to show your readers. And how you choose to present it.

4 comments:

Lynnette Labelle said...

I liked your muffin description. That totally happens to me. Well, not totally. But I have been known to pry them apart in a such a way my husband speculates a mouse must be in the house.

I don't know what genre you write. If it's romance, you might be interested in a contest I have on my blog right now. You can check it out at: http://lynnettelabelle.blogspot.com

Lynnette Labelle

Waconda Springs Soap Works said...

Great lesson.

One of my co-workers is going back to school. She's taking English Comp 101. She hates writing. I've been helping her.

Next time I help her, I'm going to suggest she read this post. She's having a tough time figuring out how to show. Nothing better than to see a great example of showing written in two different way to evoke two feelings.

Carol Kilgore said...

Thanks for leaving a comment Lynnette. I'll check out your blog.

Carol Kilgore said...

Great about your co-worker returning to school. She's won half the battle by taking the first step.

She's welcome to read here. I'm happy if learns something. Or if I can make her smile.

Life's too short not to enjoy it.