Treat readers to vivid passages in your story

One of the kindest things writers can do for their readers is employ local dexterity. This occurs when images, sentences, paragraphs and scenes are pleasurable to read because of their vividness.

Consider this passage from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” just as Gatsby is about to die:

Perhaps he didn’t believe it would come, and perhaps he no longer cared. If that was true, he must have felt that he lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream. He must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered as he saw what a grotesque thing a rose is, and how raw the sunlight was on the scarcely created grass. A new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about…like that ashen, fantastic figure drifting toward him through the amorphous trees.

Notice how Fitzgerald describes Gatsby’s perceptions in a clear and striking manner. Because the images are life-like, readers feel it as they would an immediate experience.

Be careful of using local dexterity to hide the absence of drama or conflict, however. If you enjoyed reading a passage you wrote but keep telling yourself that nothing happened in it, you’re going overboard with local dexterity.