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Valley Forge Feedback

Author Post
Annie Leist

Hi Valley Forge, this is Annie. What a tremendous amount of work you put into the description of this large and very busy scene! It's a very thorough description; kudos to you for your attention to detail. But I think your instincts are right that this description could be shortened a bit. Shortening is totally OK! Here are some thoughts...

First, the first sentence of your description, "Covering three-quarters of the front of the park brochure, this colorful illustration captures the daily life of the encampment at Valley Forge National Historical Park." is fantastic. Really nice job.

What I would do at that point is, rather than jump into your detailed description, is do a very high level general description of what is in the scene. Take a couple sentences to talk about he people bustling through the scene conducting their daily business, mention their 18th C. clothing including the tri=cornered hats and uniforms of the continental army, discuss that the setting is a muddy encampment packed with rows of brown log huts. You could also throw in the word "drawing" somewhere to re-emphasize that this is an illustration, not a photo.

The next thing I would suggest is to say something like "A typical grouping of people in this illustration is featured at the front in the bottom middle of the image..." and then describe the grouping. You can compress by saying "Two soldiers stand with their backs to us while a third sits to their left..." and so on. Then you can say Further back in the image, we see an African American soldier and  so-and-so doing such-and such, while a woman in a yellow cap and red shawl does such-and-such." (I'm not writing this out fully but I hope you see how I am suggesting you compress and generalize a bit.)

You do such a lovely job of describing each person's clothing, and I know attire important, but I think you don't have to describe each person in such detail. Is there some way you can generalize? Or pick one person to describe as a typical example, particularly of hte soldiers' uniforms?

The main point of this image is reflected in your first sentence. I understand you are trying to be faithful to the detail of the image, but it's totally okay to edit. It would be impossible to capture everything in such a way to faithfully reproduce this image in someone's mind, so don't feel pressure to try to accomplish that. Start with the general, and give a few examples of details to indicate what people are doing and what people are wearing. 

A few other key things...

- If you find you are using semicolons in a sentence, it's a good indicator that that sentence can be broken into 2 or more smaller sentences. Smaller sentences may feel choppy but often they are easier to understood when heard aloud.

- Use action verbs. Often a well-chosen verb or a well-placed adjective can convey a whole lot and have the added benefit of cutting down your length.

- If you find yourself repeating something, for example repeated mention of muddiness, or the rows of cabins, look for a way to state it once generally .

Does this help? I hope so! If you have any more questions shoot me an email at Good luck and great work with a really tough image!


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Michael DiPaolo, Valley Forge NHP Great, thank you Annie for taking the time to go over my post and provide some pointers. 
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