Peeve of the Day

‘Tis a great day for the peevish . . . grey and clammy and chilly from dawn until dusk.

Perhaps it is the general greyness of the weather that moves me to say the following:

Gentle writer, if you’ve described a character as wearing “a colorful t-shirt”, pray employ your eraser or your delete key, as appropriate, and instead tell the reader what color that t-shirt actually is.

A “colorful” t-shirt is just a vaguely-tinted smudge in the reader’s mental vision.  A red t-shirt, now, or a black t-shirt, or a red-green-yellow-and-purple tie-dyed t-shirt . . . all of those different t-shirts don’t just make specific images in the reader’s head, they also carry information about the person wearing them, and a lot of other cultural data as well.  (We’ve got the vintage hippie, and the emo kid, and the guy who – depending upon his t-shirt’s hastily-glimpsed logo  – is a fan of either the Communist International or the University of Arkansas Razorbacks.  All that, from a t-shirt.)

Specificity is your friend.

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