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Toilet Tweets: A Lesson in Descriptive Writing

and the importance of imagery

Between reading Resonate and The Advertising Solution, I've spent too many hours thinking about how to add imagery to my writing this past week. I know it's something I should do, but I haven't naturally been able to work out how.

Now, I'm an engineer at heart, so I'm usually over-analytical. After all, I'm used to drawing technical drawings that aren't exactly big conveyors of emotion.

This is how I've been trained to think

But everything hit home yesterday when I saw a tweet that made me crack up completely.

Perhaps he could have tweeted it as

I finally tried to sit down on the toilet to realise I’d left the seat up.

Fell right in. Worst moment of the year

but it wouldn't have the same effect. Instead, he describes the situation in a series of increasingly hilarious ways.

So, let’s pick my favourites apart, because as I said….I’m overly analytical.

# My knees hit my chest - - How the situation played out physically
# Folded like a lawn chair - - How this can be represented by a physical metaphor
# Scariest moment of 2016 - - How it compared to other things in life
# I knocked everything off every counter on my way down - - How it affected the surroundings
# So so cold - - Describing the sensory impact
# For some reason I yelled who is in here as I was falling - - His outward reaction
# Thought I was being attacked - - His bewildered inner dialogue
# Survivor - - How he's left feeling afterwards

I mean, that's a serious amount of ways to add emotion and imagery to the act of falling in the toilet, right? Yet whenever I've tried to do similar in my own writing, I've always had a complete brain fart as my imagination kicks out a whole heap of silence.

Of course, I'm really writing this post to process my thoughts and it feels like summarising these ways of thinking would be a great idea. Next time I'm feeling stuck, I'll remember Jay's toilet nightmare and go down the following prompts.

  • How did the situation play out physically
  • Can you draw any overblown metaphors
  • How did it affect the surrounding environment
  • What was the sensory impact
  • What would the outward reaction be
  • How would the inner dialogue naturally react
  • What would be the residual feeling directly after
  • What would be the residual feeling long after
Suddenly, having ideas for how to ramp about the emotional imagery turns from a mountain into a molehill. For instance, I've tweaked one bit of my client's copy from starting the day tired to instead read always sleepwalking into the office.

I hope that helps you all, and remember. Next time you're feeling stuck, think of Jay's late night toilet nightmare.

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