Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations.
Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in blue within the original Post’s text.
The next post I’m going to revisit is The FAB Pencil . Originally posted on . The reason I’m revisiting is that this is good practice and can be fun.
The FAB Pencil
What’s so FAB about it? It’s just a lame pencil.
Or is it? I have gone through some nifty retail sales training. You know the kind that teaches you to sell your soul to the devil to make the sale. Up-sell, up-sell, up-sell.
I no longer wonder how they do it, how they smoothly transition you from buying the watch to including the warranty, the battery replacement program, the matching belt and shiny new car. I don’t wonder, because I know.
FAB Feature Advantage Benefit. Oddly, this applies nicely to describing something in writing. The lesson is to take an ordinary item say… a super lame ordinary No.2 pencil and show the customer something they can see, touch or smell about it. Then explain the advantage of the feature and smoothly move into how it benefits the customer.
The feature: it has No.2 lead
The advantage: No.2 writes smoothly
The benefit: consistent writing
Feature: built-in eraser
Advantage: erases efficiently
Benefit: saves time having to search for an eraser
F: seamless wood design
A: easy to sharpen
B: no slivers or sharp bits
F: bright yellow paint
A: easy to see
B: hard to lose
These things seem obvious, right? Maybe, but now they are clearly stuck in your head. How does this apply to describe items in a story? If you give a purpose to an item then it makes sense. If it’s horribly random then its distracting to the reader. If anything, it will help give an object depth. Even a yawn-worthy pencil. I do this with items my characters interact with that are important or interesting.
Sasha plopped the yellow pencil’s eraser end in her mouth. Scrunching her face she removed it instantly. The rubbed-rubber taste turned her stomach and reminded her of the party she went to instead of studying. She set the flattened tip to the paper to mark her answer. Only to rub it out second-guessing herself again.
Sasha jumped when the bell rang. She stared wide-eyed at the paper, a test failed before it was marked. Less than half the questions answered. Gripping the smooth pencil in her hands, she tightened her grip, snapping the light wood easily.
(I did a few edits on this one, the grammar was lacking and I was even missing a word. Just goes to show with a lot of practice and effort we grow and learn more every day.)
My advice about describing things.
Instead of just blurting out what it is with a standard ‘it’s blue’ description, dig deeper and see what it has to offer the user then the interaction between the object and user is more fluid. Be cautious that you don’t go overboard describing an item to the point of excess. Less is more. (I would now add Less is more, if that less is quality.)
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