The next assignment in Step 4 of the Kerrigan method of Writing to the Point asks the writer to focus on including details. (This is part of my project to study and learn the entire Six-Step method, explained in my initial post in this series.) For a recap, here are Steps 1 through 4.
STEP 1. Write a short, simple declarative sentence that makes one statement. (Chapter 1, page 6)
STEP 2. Write three sentences about the sentence in Step 1—clearly and directly about the whole of that sentence, not just something in it. (Chapter 2, page 18.)
STEP 3. Write four or five sentences about each of the three sentences in Step 2—clearly and directly about the whole of the Step 2 sentence, not just something in it. (Chapter 3, page 31.)
STEP 4. Make the material in the four or five sentences of Step 3 as specific and concrete as possible. Go into detail. Use examples. Don’t ask, “What will I say next?” Instead, say some more about what you have just said. Your goal is to say a lot about a little, not a little about a lot. (Chapter 4, page 43)
C. GOING INTO DETAIL:
Step 4 calls on the writer to supply the facts that go along with the 1-2-3 sentences. Give evidence, NOT just repetition. Omitting details and simply repeating different versions of the topic sentence is what some students do; this is poor writing.
Write five to ten sentences on this sentence “I’d hate to have you see my _______ drawer.” Give details. Here’s what I wrote:
I’d hate to have you see my kitchen junk drawer. It is full of items that should be thrown out, if I ever got around to taking on that task. It contains a few black metal buttons for a coat long discarded. There is a blue scrubbing sponge. Several water bottle tops in assorted bright colors are in the drawer. Three brass cabinet knobs with off-white centers are in a plastic zip-lock bag. The steel and copper inner parts of an old kitchen faucet are in another bag. An old Bic Wite-Out bottle containing dried up sludge is in the drawer. Finally, the strangest item of all is a bag with a couple of filthy, burned out cigarette butts saved in case we needed evidence for a trash fire we had a few years ago.
WHAT I LEARNED
By focusing on details and being required to write a minimum number of sentences, I avoided the mistake of simply writing in generalities about all the “stuff” or “junk” or “things” in my drawer. It was a good exercise in learning how to make an effort to pull out informative details that paint a picture for the reader and make for more effective writing.
Previous posts in this series: