Saturday, April 27, 2013

Quotes, Imagery, and Writing

We've all seen inspirational posters touting "Teamwork" and "Success." But Canadian artist Ryan McArthur takes it a step farther with a minimalist technique. An article in The Huffington Post highlighted his work and triggered a thought for me: how can writers do the same?
Photo Credit:

Writers need to choose pithy words, full of emotion and punch. It may sound simple but it certainly isn't easy.  We tend to over-extrapolate, over-explain, and over-describe--and often in passive voice.
Watch the use of was before verbs: change She was sitting on the edge of her chair to She perched on the chair's edge.  Challenge yourself to condense wordage, distilling each sentence into a concentrated essence of idea.

What the artist does here with silhouette is limit distraction.  It seems deceptively simple yet brilliant to juxtapose a caterpillar holding to the very tip of a branch as a butterfly rises, but how many people  would have added a background of leaves, flowers, or a sun with rays streaming outward?  To do so would take the eye away from the core interpretation of Rumi's quote.

I'm not saying we shouldn't be descriptive. But we should be on guard not to clutter our writing with too much. Distill and concentrate your wordage, choose richness over quantity, and entrance your readers right from the start.

~ Jude Johnson

Dragon & Hawk, Out of Forgotten Ashes, Dragon's Legacy (fiction)
Cactus Cymry; (nonfiction) Open Books Press


Julie Eberhart Painter said...

So true about the art, focus/center of interest/POV. They work together. This oiece has an Oriental/Japanese feel to it.

Jude Johnson said...

Love this gent's work. Check out his other posters on Etsy:

They are great for writing prompts as well.


Big Mike said...

Hmmmm, I see. You've been talking to Cassie too much (g).

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)