Specificity Needed

About two or three weeks ago, on my normal bike ride home from work, I came across these signs. They’re still there, if not actually upright. They demarcate about 50 yards of the Skunk Creek Greenway Trail between Foothills and the railroad overpass. They look like this:

Aggressive Bird Ahead

Natalie Goldberg, in her wonderful pair of books Writing Down The Bones and Wild Mind, urges the writer towards greater specificity. Not “tree,” but elm. Not “car,” but white 1996 Ford Courier. Specificity in writing helps put your images into the reader’s head. It helps put the reader into your story.

I can’t help but think the writer of these signs could have benefited from her advice. I mean, what kind of “agressive bird” are we talking about here? Canada goose, flicker, infatuated red-winged blackbird? A blue jay on a rampage? A confused swallow? A finch with an oversized ego? This sort of thing makes a big difference in how I prepare myself for possible danger. It’s important!

2 Comments so far

  1. den_john on July 16th, 2008 @ 7:18 pm

    Maybe it’s a passive aggressive bird. I mean, we’re talking Boulder here, right?


  2. Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little (den_nicole) on July 22nd, 2008 @ 4:05 pm

    Um, no. When a bird dive-bombs you, that’s not "passive aggressive." That’s just plain aggressive.

    Passive aggressive is more like when some Denver area resident makes snide "funny" comments about Boulder’s residents at every given opportunity as a way of expressing how much he resents Boulder.

    I mean, you know I like you, John, but, you’re getting predictable. If you have an issue, would you like to blog about it? You have that power!



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