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Think of something that happened to you in the past six months. It could be anything . . . something exciting, fun, sad, momentous, or reflective. In a few sentences, describe it. This should be a brief summary.

  • Example: A few weeks ago, I went to Las Vegas, Nevada during a heat wave. It was super hot, and I thought I might get broiled alive every time I went outside.

Now, go back to your description and “show” it. Describe it in great detail. Think of your senses and you re-create this event in slow motion. What did you see? hear? feel? smell? Let your reader “live” it with you. Slow it down.

  • Here is my expansion: I stood in the cold, overly air-conditioned building and stared out the door’s window at the parking lot. Heat waves wafted off the pavement, making the black expanse glimmer. I opened the door and stepped into the oven, feeling a bit like Hansel when the witch tried to cook him. Broiling hot air seared the inside of my lungs. Sweat dripped down my chest dotting my shirt with wet spots. I thought of my home in the mountains, where snow still covered the highest peaks and wondered for the umpteenth time why people live here during the summer.

When you’re done, look through one of your own pieces and expand a “telling” section. Did you find this strategy effective for adding details? Share your thoughts in the comments below.