Small Moments

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“What’s a small moment,” you ask?  Is it writing about tiny things like ladybugs, waterskippers, raindrops or snowflakes?  Well, actually, yes – it can be.  But it’s more than that, too.  Small moment writing encourages a writer’s ability to take a small moment – whether it be the cool feel of water pouring onto fingers freshly burned by the stovetop, or the sound of a newborn’s first cry.

Think of it like macro-photography.  When you focus on the details of something, very often, you see so much more than you ever thought possible.  This technique will help you master the art of “showing, not telling”.  Use all of your tools – use all of your senses!  Don’t be content with informing your reader – engage your reader, draw them in, woo them.  Think of your favorite pieces of writing – aren’t they usually works that make you feel like you’ve actually been a witness to the story, if not an actual part of it?  I know they are for me.  A picture paints a thousand words.  Here are a few you can use to get you started:

image by Kat Coe.

image by Kat Coe.

Give it a shot – take a small moment in whatever piece you are writing and blow it up!  Expand, bolster, embellish, magnify, multiply!  Unravel your scene to reveal the different colors, textures, and weights that make up the tapestry you’re trying to weave.

image by Kat Coe.

images by Kat Coe.

A sample of “Small Moments” writing by Karen Uehling:

The computer screen measures about 18″ square. Black metal trim surrounds the square, and when you turn on the machine, it emits light of a bluish color. The cursor, a straight, vertical black line about ½” tall, pulses, urging me to write. My computer is currently open to the Microsoft word program. A cartoon paperclip figure in the corner smiles stupidly and occasionally raises his eyebrows or blinks. Symbols, letters, and words like “ABC” or “Tools” in muted yellow, blue, and black, span the top of the computer screen. A bright red squiggly line under misspelled words catches my attention. The bottom of the screen also contains symbols and words and a cartoon of a pencil writing on an open book. The more I look at this screen, the funnier and stranger it seems. To think that I spend so much time staring at a machine, wearing out my eyes, my hands, messing with keys and buttons, learning routines of commands. This is modern writing.


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