Our guide to writing a good read.
Writing for effect and emotion.
Nearly everything I commit to paper, or indeed the internet, is written to engage the person reading in and put them in my place as far as possible. Many shooting scenarios involve sitting around waiting or walking around the countryside in search of our quarry. I see write-ups by so called professional shooting journalists and they leave me cold in so many ways. They will be a description of a particular outing, be it lion hunting or a simple day out on the pheasants.
When I read anything I want the writer to describe their surroundings. I want it to be in as much detail as possible, or practical if there is a constraint on the number of words. I will give an example in two short paragraphs so you can see what I mean. Firstly I will do a bad write up then, hopefully a better one.
We turned up at the fields after dark and pulled into a field. There were a pair of eyes in the middle of the field. We put the lamp on them and made sure it was a fox. My mate put his gun on the bonnet and I held the lamp. The eyes disappeared and we walked over. Sure enough the fox was dead.
Late November and the faint mist that had been clinging to everything for the day had finally cleared leaving a sparkling wonderland of dewdrops reflected in the headlights as we arrived at our first point of call for the night. The field is accessed through an old five barred gate that has seen better days. As it opens it creaks slightly in the still night air. To the left of the gate is a six foot high earth bank covered in a thick lush grass. The other side is hemmed in by oak trees which obscure a large old house occupied by a Christian lady who holds jamborees every August. The gate creaks once more behind us and the silence of night envelops the narrow lane we are now in. The lane was once a thoroughfare until a new toll road severed it from its original destination. It is now a road without purpose, save for the infrequent farm vehicles during planting and harvest time.
Twenty yards down the lane is a gateway on the left hand side that leads into a field of some six acres. The field is surrounded by high earthen banks, the smallest being at least six feet high. The gate to this field has disappeared some time ago. It is only the opening that remains. The old shooting bus is a Land Rover Discovery and it is fitted with a roof mounted Lightforce lamp coupled with a dimmer switch held together with black electrical insulation tape. Our shooting vehicle is used heavily and sometimes running repairs stay there until sit breaks and needs replacing. Pulling as quietly as you can in a diesel Discovery we lit the field softly with the lamp pointing over the top of the ground. About a hundred yards out Charlie was looking at us with a steady and un-frightened gaze. We looked at him and he looked back. Keeping the lamp above the animal we clicked the doors open, the frigid, still damp air pervading our clothes almost immediately. My friend went to the back of the vehicle and stood up on the back bumper as I gently sat back in the driver’s seat ready with my hand on the lamp t-handle and dimmer. Two soft taps on the roof signaled for me to turn up the dimmer until he could clearly see his target. Another single tap and I froze the lamp.
For an eternity the silence closed around me, and then suddenly came the bark of his rifle over the top of me. For a brief moment I saw the flight of the bullet as it traveled down the orange filtered lamp. The resounding thud of a good solid hit was interspersed with the shot echoing around the night. Charlie one for the night was dispatched. Collecting the carcass and putting it into a sturdy black bin liner it was deposited into the cavernous boot of the vehicle and with the night still new we continued on along our journey.
As you can see the second one is more of a descriptive tale. Knowing the history of the area is a plus because it helps pad out the story and after all that is what you want to do, tell the story. When I first started to write about hunting I would carry a small notebook and a pen. If I was still for any length of time I would write down notes about my surroundings. The colours, the weather, temperature, how I felt, what I was waiting for. The notes gave me a clearer understanding of what was actually around me. If I was out foxing then the second I got in on the night or morning I would hit the computer and write it all down while it was still clear in my head.
The repetition of words and or particular phrases that you use in your everyday speech is boring to someone that is reading your writing. Vocabulary is a stupendous asset as is a basic grasp of grammar. I understand that there are those who yell grammar Nazi at the drop of the hat. These are generally the people who cannot be bothered to learn their own language. If you are going to write for other people to read, educate yourself a little.
When it comes to describing the things around you then there are some pretty basic exercises that will help. Here is an example.
I am sat on a couch, to my left is my phone. I have just described the scene concisely. Here is a different description.
I am sat on a couch in my living room. The couch is a solid oak framed one covered in a mid blue and white chequered fabric. There is a phone on the coffee table that belongs to me. It is lying face down. The back is silver and has a texture that is refracting the light of the setting sun. See how that works. Now go away and really look at what is around you, it is wonderful.
Written by Firepower.
Read his other works here.