How to Improve Your Descriptive Writing

This post was originally published Dec 2, 2013 and has been updated.

In New York for Thanksgiving, I took a stroll through SoHo and happened upon an independent bookstore.  I wanted to buy something that seemed “indie” so I purchased a copy of The New York Review of Books, in part because I noticed Zadie Smith wrote an article for the issue. In the article, she described a scene from a painting. What I read helped me to improve my descriptive writing. I truly think I’m a better writer because of it.

Descriptive writing

Zadie’s article is called “Man vs. Corpse,” which is essentially an account of her reaction to an Italian painting entitled “Man Carrying Corpse on His Shoulders” (below).  In the piece, she describes the painting in the detailed way that we writers try to describe the images in our heads.

It was sort of incredible to see how an established writer like Zadie Smith drew an image with her words–the same one I was staring at.  I felt like I was learning from a literary genius simply by reading the description and looking at “Man” at the same time.  It led to a kind of an epiphany—like “oh, that’s how you do it.”

Today’s blog post is going to be a bit different. I’m placing the “PRACTICE” portion in the middle because, if you can, I want you to try it before you read Zadie’s description, which is after the gray box.


Describe “Man Carrying Corpse on His Shoulders” to a reader who has not seen it before.  Share your version in the comments!  How does it compare to Zadie’s?

Here is what Zadie wrote:

“Man is naked, with a hand on his left hip, and an ideal back in which every muscle is delineated. His buttocks are vigorous, monumental, like Michelangelo’s David… He walks forcefully, leading with his left foot, and over his shoulders hangs a corpse—male or female, it’s not clear. To secure it Man has hooked one of his own rippling arms around the corpse’s stringy leg. He is carrying this corpse off somewhere, away from the viewer; they are about to march clean out the frame.”

When was the last time a writer has blown you away? Don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments section!

About Monica M. Clark

Monica is a lawyer trying to knock out her first novel. She lives in D.C. but is still a New Yorker. You can follow her on her blog or on Twitter (@monicamclark).

  • Sophie Novak

    I recently read this and was blown away too. Zadie Smith is an incredible writer. I love her books.

    • Yeah, after reading the article I bought “On Beauty” and again, I’ve been so impressed by her descriptions. I think she’s a great read for anyone trying to work on that part of their writing.

  • Hi Monica,

    I suppose it depends, but for clear, vivid, gripping, crisp prose, I am blown away every time I read George R. R. Martin. For shear imagination and pure enjoyment, there are few better than J. K. Rowling in my book. For verisimilitude and a touch of nostalgia: Tolkien. There are so many great writers and so many facets to great writing, the list could go on and on….

    • Yes, you’re right, and it’s good to have an idea about who excels at what. At various points in my writing I’m looking for different types of guidance and examples–sometimes good descriptions other times dialogue, settings, voice, tension etc. Also, I completely agree re : JK Rowling. I love how much she seems to care about the reader experience.

      • Exactly. What I find fascinating is, when you really start “getting” what certain authors are doing with style, you can start looking at authors who employ a similar narrative situation to your own in order to see how they pull off certain things (dialogue, setting, etc.). In other words, a writer who writes from deep within a character’s perspective (GRRM) may reveal setting far differently than an author who uses a very overt narrator… Sometimes knowing who to emulate (learn from) and why is almost as important as what you’re actually learning!

        • I agree. I suppose that’s why everyone emphasizes the importance of reading a lot (and across genres) as you are writing.

  • Christy

    Her body, although fit and trim, carried the weight of a thousand pounds. She laid unconscious, wrapped around his shoulders like a holiday scarf with her arm dangling to his left side. Her hair briefly touched his arm, tickling, repeating with each step he took down the path. His arm wrapped around the top of her leg, balancing her perfectly, one arm on his waist. He felt the full weight of her as his muscles stretched and worked to hold her steady. Every muscle in his body screamed for release but he held onto her anyway. He would not let her fall. Could not let her fall. He took a deep breath. His strength was holding up in his body, now only if his mind would do the same.

    • Awesome! It’s different from Zadie’s but in a good way–you imagined the man struggling physically and mentally (or having trouble physically because he’s struggling mentally). Zadie viewed him as incredibly strong, almost with no weaknesses, I think. The same man walking in different stories–I love it!!

      • Christy

        Thank you!!

    • Adam

      I like the step you took in creating the emotion of the man. You didn’t stop with just a description of the picture but created character. Nice. I also envisioned the body as that of a woman’s even though you can’t know for sure

    • Jacqueline

      loved your description

      • Christy

        Thank you!

  • Edana Brown

    Two writers who gobsmack me by their ability to “take me there” are Tana French (In the Woods, Faithful Place — among others) and Sarah Waters (Little Stranger — she has others too). If I can write half as well as they do, I’ll be a whole lot more confident than I am now. 🙂

    • Awesome! I will definitely check them out.

  • Strong, naked man, muscles bulging, sketched in Greek statuelike pose. He’s facing away, but somehow I know his face is serious- his eyes gazing far towards the distance.

    In stark contrast, though muscular too, is a naked body draped like a blanket, conforming to his friend’s shoulders, fully relaxed- fully dead.

    Who is this strong man? Who is his blanket friend? How did this artist come to think of such a coarse, yet subtle way to sketch love?

    • Nice!! I didn’t even really notice that corpse was muscular too, but you’re right–it definitely is. What did you think of Zadie’s description? Thanks for sharing!

      • Its perfectly descriptive. I love how short it is at the same time. The picture of Michaelangelo’s David is great. I’m really glad I didn’t read it before I wrote mine. It would have disabled my creativity! This is a great exercise, especially with reading other perspectives.

        • I am enjoying reading the other perspectives as well–I’m glad you found the exercise useful!

    • Christy

      Great description!

  • Erin

    I’m working on “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy right now. His descriptions leave me breathless.

    • I will have to pick that up–even if just to read a page or two–next time I’m in the bookstore. 🙂

    • Adam

      The Road is amazing and McCarthy has god-like prose. You should check out some of his other work. All the Pretty Horses is a beautiful read

    • The Cody

      Agreed! I recently read it myself and, for several days after, all my sentences were only a few words long 🙂 The style he used supports the setting sooooo perfectly. And he conveys so much with so little.

  • Adam

    A man stands strong and erect, his posture in contraposto. His left hand is set akimbo, the other around the hanging legs of the woman he carries above him on his shoulders. The tone of their skin differs for while his is tan and of the health of the living, her’s is the alabaster absence of life. You cannot see his face nor hers, and where his back ripples with muscle, each fiber and tendon taut in a state of perfection, her wrinkled, withered body sags with her shoulder bones and spine and ribs prominent under her skin while her hair droops from her limp head and flaccid neck. Her curving fingers motion without intention towards the ground opposite in direction, but just as impotent, as the hand of Michelangelo’s Adam who could not reach for God. There is a light that shines upon both their backs and it comes from above for their combined shadow is small and figureless, and stands not in the direction that they face, but beside them.

    The prose of Lolita by Vladimir nabakov blew me away like no other writer I’ve read before. The energy in his writing is amazing.

    • Ah Lolita–classic.
      I really liked the way you talked about the color in this painting, which I hadn’t really thought about it. For example, I didn’t notice the different tones of their skin, but you’re right–hers is the “alabaster absence of life” while his is more tan. Every time someone writes a description, I see something new–thanks for sharing!

      • Adam

        Thanks! I just realized that the body is more muscular than bony… Dang it haha

    • Jacqueline

      loved your writing

    • Christy

      Nice. I love the description of their shadows being combined.

    • Claire

      Adam, I really like the way you described the appearance of her skin—”her’s is the alabaster absence of life.” Wow!! That is so descriptive and so vivid that it is a great visual. Good job!

      • Adam

        Thanks Claire, christy and Jacqueline 🙂

  • dgk

    I see the back of a man, unclothed, defined muscles in his back. The shape and position of his buttocks is that of a young man whose skin and muscle tone has not yet met the pull of gravity. Over his shoulder he carries another young man with lifeless limbs and long straggly hair. The man carries his burden without effort; one hand balancing the weight of the load while the other hand rests nonchalantly on his left hip. Without know the title of the paintng, I could imagine the man being carried is ill or injured – not necessarily dead.

    • Nice! What did you think of Zadie’s? Also, I agree–it is not obvious to me either that the person is dead without the title.

    • Christy

      I like your take on the other person he’s carrying being a man.

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  • The Cody

    The nude man walks away from us, carrying a frail, fresh corpse over his shoulders. Although his face is hidden, it appears as if he’s carried hundreds of bodies. So casual is the man, in fact, he stands with his left arm on his hip, elbow out, as if stopping, mid-stroll, to admire his surroundings. Any compassion or
    tenderness that might exist – wrapping both arms around the androgynous stringy corpse, for instance – is markedly absent. With his right foot planted to the ground like a tent stake, weight shifted to one side, he might as well be watching a sunset wrapped in his finest stole.

    • I love this! That’s what I got from the image as well–he looks so casual for someone carrying a corpse. How he his carrying it, his stance, etc. does not indicate much compassion at all. Thanks for sharing!

    • Christy

      Very good. I love the description of his absent compassion.

    • I love the fact that you concentrated on his casual stance. There is so much to learn from his body language, and I think you have drawn it out beautifully.

    • Deborah Wise

      You’ve recreated the soul of the man in “he might as well be watching a sunset wrapped in his finest stole”. He is so unaware of his burden, as if he’s carrying fuel for his cooking fire.

  • SK

    My first crack at something like this
    On a desolate canvas, sand in color, a defined lifeless body is supported by the shoulders of one full of strength. The limp body is exposed, the back of his head, his blondish hair and left arm drapes over the left shoulder of the standing man. Both legs are seen hanging on the right side of the canvas. The standing mans right arm is threaded between the left and the right leg in a confident way to keep the corpse from falling. The standing man’s naked back, arms, and legs reveal a lifetime of manual labor through the defined lines hat carve out his muscles. His head bowed by the weight of the corpse and the heaviness of the tragic day is hidden by the torso of his silent passenger.

    • Welcome to the Write Practice community! What did you think when you read Zadie’s description? Did the exercise help at all?
      I really liked this description, particularly the way you said the arm was threaded between the legs–great image. I also like that you put some thought into why he was so muscular. Keep writing!! 🙂

      • SK

        Thank you for the encouragement! Zadie’s words were powerful and quick to the point. This exercise did help, and I enjoyed doing it. Ive always wanted to write but no story has captured me until my 11 year old daughter said something completely outrageous and my 1st thought was, “what a great story for a book” and it has been knawing at me for a year. Thank you for helping start my journey to write a book! What I hope to find here is what I write that “doesn’t work” Look forward to your blog!

  • Brianna Worlds

    The man struck a casual pose, weight shifted to one leg, hand resting on one hip bone. His back, legs, arms, were all ridged with capable muscles. His head was concealed by a body, draped across his body, both elegant and stiff in death, one leg hooked by the man’s arm. One of it’s arm ran parallel and supported by the man’s easily resting arm. Wisps of pale hair floated, insubstantial and ghostly, like frayed lace drifting in the air.
    I don’t think I like how that turned out 0.o Well, practice is practice. So be it!

    • Jacqueline

      its better than mine

      • Brianna Worlds

        Oh, I highly doubt it XD *Scrolls down in search of your post*

    • Christy

      Love the description of the hair being like frayed lace.

      • Brianna Worlds

        Thanks a bunch! 😀

    • Adam

      I liked the frayed lace description too

      • Brianna Worlds

        Thanks! 😀

    • Hey, Adam and Christy stole my comment! The lace description stood out to me as well. It’s so fitting–delicate, frail, pretty. Great choice. 🙂

      • Brianna Worlds

        Thank you! ^ ^ That’s what I was going for. Good to know it turned out!

  • Jacqueline

    With his strong arms he horst up his dead friend and place him on his strong shoulders. There was no way hw was going to leave his old friend here for thebeast to feed on

    • Ooh a beast. Way to create tension in two sentences. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  • Claire

    The back of his completely naked muscular body depicts every chiseled muscle. He seems to be standing still since his weight is shifted to his right side while his left leg seems relaxed as represented by the slight curvature of his left popliteal fossa.

    His left hand is resting on his left hip giving the impression he’s pondering something—a crossroads of sorts. Across his wide shoulders, rests the naked body of what appears to be an average weight, young, stringy-haired blond woman. Her skin is paler than his, almost sallow—like that of a corpse.

    Her outstretched left arm rests on his abducted left upper arm while his right arm is wrapped around her left leg creating what appears to be a sense of counterbalance.

    At this point, I wonder—what caused her demise, and where is he taking her?

    • The Cody

      I like this. It’s no-nonsense and effectively describes the scene. Nice!

      • Claire

        Thanks for your feedback, The Cody. Much appreciated.

    • I’m wondering those things too! Great description!

      • Claire

        Good post, Monica.Thanks for your feedback on my comment. I appreciate it.

  • Florence

    He is the Man of all men. His naked body is a
    happy madrigal of smooth muscles married under a skin gleaming with sweat. On
    his strong shoulders he carries the body of his best friend, his brother,
    killed on the battlefield. The Man’s right hand is curled around the limp body
    to keep it in place. A familiar body he loved. He is not heavy. The Man carries
    him like a punishment, a redemption. A cross. He is still alive. Far away, over
    seven countries and seven seas, a woman with a dark body and hair of snakes
    waits for him. Her love shielded off the arrows and the Man stayed alive. Her
    love kept him. He is coming home now

    • The story you imagined behind this picture really makes your description stand out. Here is my one question though if they are coming from a battlefield–why are they naked?? Lol.

      • Florence

        I was actually thinking of some ancient civilizations like the Phoenicians, the Greeks and the Romans, the Punic wars or Hannibal. These wars happened in the Northern Africa, Tunisia, or the Mediterranean where the climate is quite warm. I imagined they lost their clothes (maybe a loincloth) in the battle. The way the picture is drawn (simple colours, a bit faded, like a very old fresco) makes me think of times immemorial and I see the man in his purest form – naked. The pain he feels for his lost brother is also pure and intense, that’s why he has the calm determination to carry him home. His posture is balanced and strong: he has a Sisyphean
        task in front of him and he is determined to do it. It is his duty.
        That’s what I think and, anyway, thank you for comments.

    • It’s interesting that you see love and compassion in the man’s stance, where others have seen carelessness and even insensitivity. I wonder what the telltale marks are that determine our impressions.

  • Vicki Boyd

    Draped carelessly over the massive tensed muscles of a vital man, the corpse embodies death. Waxy skin, limp lifeless hair, and immobile limbs betray corpse’s state without evidence of apparent damage. In contrast, the pressence of life bursts from man. Though viewed from behind, he emanates male sexual energy. His rippling musculature screams health and though imobilized in a static portrait, he seems to move forward.

    • Love the emphasis on the contrast between the bodies–thanks for sharing!

    • Bob Mikeep


  • Two naked figures, one on top of the other, backs turned to the viewer. The first tall and erect, bold, the muscles of his body like a Grecian statue, glistening like bronze rubbed in oil. One hand on his hip, cool and defiant, as if in challenge. Across his shoulders lies a very different nude. Limp, pale, the drooping face is obscured by a tangle of hair and one hand dangles limp, flopping at the bronze man’s side. It is a classic portrait of victory, and of defeat.

    • Thanks Abigail! I really liked the way the final line summed up the description–it felt very satisfying. 🙂

  • Deborah Wise


    A man, hard and bright with the prime of life, carries the empty shell of some poor soul draped on his broad shoulders like a trophy, or a carcass of fresh meat. The man rests for a moment and surveys some unseen vista, careless with the force of life still fresh and strong in his veins.

    In blatant disregard for the soul that once was, the man stands easy as if dying were nothing, while the corpse hangs upon his shoulders in vapid, whitewashed surrender, and yet clinging to the man’s hide like the somber, ochre tinge of a creeping cancer that might suddenly claim that heedless strength. The price of man’s ghoulish nonchalance is to be cut down in the midst of his days, so to make a mockery of their unholy embrace.

    • What do you mean this was your grandfather??

      • Deborah Wise

        This was poetic licence, Monica. I could say “This was our collective grandfather: , a soul that once was, a life once lived, now nothing but an empty shell. Every dead body was once a living, breathing soul, loved by one of us, still a living soul, but no longer in the discarded body. Our ‘grandfather’ no longer needs it!

  • Bob DeSpy former Spycacher

    His relaxed stance as if the load on his shoulders were
    absent, is in waiting. The exposed body is a sculpture to the magnificence of
    the human endeavour. Athletic. With every protuberant sinew delineating his
    figure of dominion. His left arm, with the hand resting on the tip of his
    pelvis, supports without restraint the weight of the trunk. The other arm
    embraces one leg to hold the body in position, ready to be carried to a
    sanctuary perhaps. Motionless, the woman weighs about his neck, flaccid as her
    slightly curled hair ready to dance to the motion. The muscles of her naked
    body are in lifeless stretchiness to the inevitable fate.

    • Thanks Bob! Extra points because you are one of the few people to not say “his hand was on his hip.” 🙂

  • TurdbagTheGreatXIV

    It’s the human experience. The young man carries the knowledge of inevitable death “carelessly” on his shoulders.

    • Ah. Never thought about it like that, but I can definitely see it. Fascinating interpretation!

    • Wow, so much say in so few words! How many books have you written . . . ah, um, Turdbag?
      Sherrie Miranda’s historically based, coming of age, Adventure novel “Secrets & Lies in El Salvador” is about an American girl in war-torn El Salvador:
      Her husband made a video for her novel. He wrote the song too:

      • TurdbagTheGreatXIV

        I’ve written several books in my mind, all of which would have most
        likely garnered the title of “NYT bestseller”, but alas: they could not
        see my theoretical genius.

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  • JC

    He is unclothed and well muscled, she is draped across his shoulders.
    Viewed from the back, his muscles are tensed, but there appears to be
    little effort expended as he carries her slack form away from us, one hand on
    his hip and the other wrapped around her leg. We know she is dead;
    her body lacks both resistance and color while his musculature and
    warm coloring resonate life.

    • Thanks JC! What did you think of Zadie’s description?

      • JC

        For me, how Zadie used action allowed me to “produce” the picture in my mind. This was a terrific exercise, and difficult for me. I find myself looking at pictures around my home differently now.

  • Derek Kent

    A hero pausing,

    accepts a seconds rest,

    stands, left hand at ease upon his hip

    contemplating the way ahead.

    Perhaps the road divides, or his way is blocked.

    No time to stop,

    left foot poised to continue carrying this load alone.

    His load, a cadaver draped limply across his shoulders.

    Compassion for the deceased has long since passed in the intimacy of his burden.

    Balanced and restrained with practiced ease

    All his focus now is on the way ahead and the completion of
    his epic trial.

    • Love it. I also love how you made yours into a poem of sorts. Thanks Derek!

      • Derek Kent

        Thank-you Monica, it didn’t start out intentionally as a poem, just grew that way.

  • Dawn

    *tips her head way to one side…* This is so nit picky – but it’s driving me nuts so I’ll go ahead and post it anyway 🙂 That man isn’t walking anywhere. He’s standing at rest. You can tell in the angle of the hips and the flex of the muscle in his right buttock, right quad and calf. His weight isn’t forward on the left at all, all his weight – and the weight of the person he’s carrying, is resting on the back right leg while the left rests with the foot angled off to one side, opposite the angle of the one of the right foot. Not the stance of someone walking

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  • A limp, lifeless body hung over his shoulders. It’s hair tossed to the the side and long enough to hide any defining features. The man’s muscles strained under the dead weight he carried. The pale skin of the corpse was ashen compared to the sun-kissed pink of the man carrying it.

  • EC

    under the weight of the corpse his muscles become visible. he nudeness does not startle me the way it once did. As he walks away from me i can see his strength at it bulges under his skin. he presses his shoulders back as his left hand reaches for his waist adding more definition to his back. it is at this moment that the body he is carrying become a corpse, rather than a body. the corpse, in comparison, to the man is frail and hangs around the neck and rests on the man’s shoulders without any attempt to look poise; there’s no life in it for it to be able to try.

  • I suppose this is a less literal interoperation. I just make a story out of everything. I can’t help myself. *shrugs*

    He have never had a stomach for these fights, even after years of seeing the same scene unfold in front of his eyes. It wasn’t so much the blood and fighting that churned his stomach, but the aftermath. The victors stance was exuded confidence and power, one hand on his hip, one foot thrust out, his opponents lifeless form draped across his shoulders, his muscles still rippling from the exertion of killing another with bare hands. The corpse was not treated as a human body, a life lost, but as a trophy, to be swung around and displayed to the crowd with a broad smile. As if the slack muscles and empty gaze were not a haunting reminders of each mans morality. He averted his gaze, not able to handle the idea that human life was taken so lightly here.

  • Kathryn VanWyhe

    A man stood still overseeing the world as if a casual ruler. He stood bare with hands pressed to his hips seeming to have not a care of this world even though His surroundings said otherwise. While he stood nude to the world a body lay draped across his back like a little lamb. The man’s perfectly carved back as if from stone is all I can see but I can clearly see this cold body of emptiness hooked around the man’s neck and arm. His stance is full of dominance and such casualness with one foot placed in front of the next

  • Yvonne

    In the painting a nude man with one hand on his waist and the other arm wrapped around one leg of the corpse on the back of his shoulders. The corpse upper body is laying across the mans left side of his shoulder and the lower portion of the body is laying across the right side of the mans shoulder. This painting shows the strength of the man carrying the corpse.

  • Meagan Brooke DeVries

    A stocky naked man stood tall, facing away from you. With his hand on his hip, he starred into the distance with a frail dead body draped over his shoulders and his right arm looped around her left leg. His muscles rippled with life while hers were depleted with death.

  • yiro

    The picture is of a nude muscular man carrying a nude and floppy

    female corpse across firm shoulders. The elegance of ripples of muscles around his
    arms, torso and legs drowns the deep sorrowful emotion the corpse should have provoked.

  • Yiro Abari High

    The picture is of a nude muscular man carrying a nude and floppy
    female corpse across firm shoulders. The elegance of ripples of muscles around his
    arms, torso and legs drowns the deep sorrowful emotions the sight of the dead evokes.

  • Vibrancy of life contrasted with the limpness of the lifeless. His proud pose reflects living confidence set against the dead weight he is carrying.

  • Lauren Timmins

    The man is nude, skin a dull yellow, just a few shades lighter than the corpse draped over his shoulders. The light falls behind him, casting shadows about his back, contrasting with the muscle. He stands with his hand on his hip, his head high, and his left foot forward, as if he is a soldier marching off to war with his rucksack on his shoulder. He is proud to carry the pale and stringy corpse; it was an obstacle he had overcome and he chose to carry it with him as a reminder of his victory. He is superior because of the body slung over him, stronger, taller, firmer. The reminder sits within him as he sets off into the unknown, the weight on his shoulders strengthening him with every step.

    • This is a really good one. I love that you described the colors of the skin, I haven’t seen that yet. Also, you conveyed the sense of pride with which he stands perfectly. Good job!

  • Duru Henry

    The nude man represents the everyday struggle of the human specie. His muscles all lined up in a detailed stance that simply suggests he is weighed down by the weight of the lifeless being that is helplessly wrapped on his shoulders, but has decided to swallow his pains, just like an average man will do.
    His left arm on her pelvis simply paints a clearer picture of a tired but determined personality, who can’t afford to let loose of the corpse until he gets to his intended destination. One thing stands out.. his never giving up attitude!

  • A man carries a corpse over his shoulder. Flesh clothe the men, and little else. The living is burdened with the weight of death, even as his indifference pretends otherwise.

  • Danie Botha

    Intrigue replaced shock as I watched the nude man plod ahead, the body draped over his shoulders. His muscles rippled, bronzed by the morning sun. He was exhausted, each step slow and measured. Both bodies were grazed, their entire lengths, as if having been dragged by vicious horses till death. Survivor carrying the less fortunate? Friend carrying a friend, one last time? I wanted to call out, but didn’t.

  • PinkishHues

    He carried the body with such ease and elegance that he looked every bit of the part of a nude model carrying a nude prop. The corpse, in its relaxed state, never swayed with the motion of the nude man’s hips. Rigid and lifeless it stayed draped over the nude man’s shoulders awaiting whatever fate had in store for the shell of the person it once was. The nude man stood stoically with his hand upon his hip. His mind, neither racing or worried, conjured up ideas as to how he will discard of the carcass that he no longer needed. Swapping bodies was becoming a tiresome ordeal that he no longer wished to deal with. Dying was not an option but there had to be a more viable one. Something more permanent…

  • Sharing this on my FB page! Thanks for the inspiration!
    Now, I must very soon get back to my New Orleans story!
    Sherrie Miranda’s historically based, coming of age, Adventure novel “Secrets & Lies in El Salvador” is about an American girl in war-torn El Salvador:
    Her husband made a video for her novel. He wrote the song too:

  • Tracey Wolfert

    A nude, muscular man stands casually, left arm akimbo, with a frail lifeless figure slung across his shoulders like a half-worn coat. Although the entire image is sepia-toned, each line gives emphasis to the contrast between the carrier and the carried. The man is drawn with strong contours that emphasize strength and vibrancy. The corpse is drawn with a much lighter hand, becoming almost translucent as the torso and head drape across the man’s shoulders. His stance conveys neither care or sorrow; rather, the temporary pause taken when trying to decide where to dispose of an unwanted burden.

  • rosie

    This is so cool. I do art in school, and when we analyze artworks, this is exactly what we have to do. My friends and I joke that it’s just “thumb-sucking” (you make things up to score good grades) but I guess it’s pretty valuable to help with descriptive writing!

  • A man stands, naked. Hand on hip. Muscles bulging. A dead body draped over his shoulders like a trophy. Also naked. Neither body faces forward.

  • Meg JB Geist

    I’m more concerned with the body he so easily carries. What’s her story? Did have to jump in a lake or ocean to save her? What provoked her to do something like that?
    The man who is carrying her seems to be doing it effortlessly. It almost reminds me of a standing PIETA, or Jesus carrying a lamb back to the fold. My thoughts and feelings. Take them as you will.

  • Carol Jordan

    It was staring at the backside of a naked man with a well defined body. Every muscle sculptured out with exquisite detail. His left hand almost gripping his hip and what appeared to be an equally naked female body draped like a stole over his shoulders. His right upper arm entwined around the left thigh and the left armpit of the corpse almost cupped his left shoulder, the arm dangling in front of his. His body appeared to be unstressed by the weight… almost as if it was a completely natural piece of apparel.

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  • Mary Hernandez

    She was gone and he was exhausted from trying to keep her alive. The weight of her body made his shoulders and back ache and he paused to catch his breath, hitching up the worst shoulder with a trembling hand on his hip. They still had miles to go before he could give her the dignity she deserved, but for now, the best he could do was to carry her in the only way he knew how, across his broad shoulders, the warmth of her skin rapidly dissipating until all that remained was the lingering scent of her on his skin and the unrelenting heaviness in his body.

  • Sanila

    I’m really shy about this, since I’m new to the writing ting, and I’m not really used to writing about this stuff, but here you go.


    They were deserted. No one around them, no one to tell their tale. No one to comprehend the predicament, no one to suspect it.

    The man was shapely, his frame an odd companion against the corpse’s. He was barefooted and not in the least irked by the situation. He didn’t seem to mind, or perhaps even know about the corpse lain on his string shoulders. His stance showed formality indifference.

    The corpse was limp and lifeless, just another wave in a sea of many. He honed a blank expression. The man had his left hand through one of the corpse’s legs, so as to keep him on.

    To God knows where, they journeyed, not a soul knowing their story, and yet, somehow, it all seemed… okay…