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Finding the Skeleton

While on my way from my father’s place in Indiana to the Tulsa area a few days ago, I jotted down ideas for various posts that could be used in the coming week.

Confession time–what I see off the side of the road had better be something big, different in outline, and vaguely recognizable for me to notice it at all. It’s astounding what details the brain will fill in when the eyes don’t see them.

One of the main things I began thinking about on the road was something very simple. You see, I think that at some point everyone considers what becomes visible/invisible during winter that isn’t during the rest of the year.

Odd thought? I suppose to some it is. Think about it for a moment, if you will, and discover how little attention you focus on a daily basis to details and description.

Case in point. With trees bare of foliage and understory vegetation eliminated during winter, the viewer can see the skeleton of a forest. The small streams and brooks become the arteries taking much-needed nutrients to the rest of the forest body.

Ever-changing tattoos show themselves on the forest floor made by sun-cast shadows of tree limbs and trunks. Those features either visible or invisible during winter take on new meaning than during the rest of the year. Bird’s nests–from owl and hawk to sparrow and hummingbird–reveal their locations for those interested in looking for them.

From the writer’s perspective this new look is revealed much like that of a story, essay, poem, etc. that is written well. Winter for the story is when few–if any–descriptors are used. Without those words, only the essence of the story is displayed for the reader.

This streamlined writing has its own demands, its own skeleton, which can change with the season or style needed for a given project. There are a finite number of seasons for both nature and for writing. Words and how they’re used determine writing seasons. Nature uses leaves and ground vegetation to paint a more colorful picture for the viewer.

Our lives in this busy world are crowded. Stimuli bombard us continually from all sides, trying to capture our attention. Until we strip away the extraneous stimuli, we fail to see the bare bones of any subject’s skeleton.

The forest is passed by without being recognized for its uniqueness. The story misses the mark by concentrating on the heavy meal instead of displaying the centerpiece and listening to the conversation.

Such are the thoughts of this writer. Experience and time reveal many details that act as mile markers along the highway of life. This trip has taught me more than I would ever have imagined.

The one thing that has stood out above most has been that each tiny detail has purpose–not to describe, but to define. None of those details need to be described. They are themselves, unique and finite.

And there you have it, my words for the day. I hope you’ve taken time lately to look for the essence/skeleton of a story, scene, conversation, etc. If you haven’t, give it a whirl. You might just enjoy the exercise. Take a scene out and try it on for size. Do a little dance to see if the world comes to an end just because you did it.

Until later, a bientot,



  1. March 2, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    yeah nice

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