The Vignette

The dictionary says a vignette is “a brief evocative description, account, or episode,” or “a small illustration or portrait photograph which fades into its background without a definite border.” The first definition is the one that concerns us here. Vignettes can be an effective way to practice your writing. In this sense, it is a description of characters, actions, and places. I often write vignettes in my journal. They are practice for me.

You can use the form to focus on areas of your writing when you think you need to bolster them. You don’t need to add any action to the vignette, just sit down and describe the few out your window. Describe a park. Describe a person. You could describe a sporting event or children playing. It doesn’t matter. The key is to describe the place, person, or event.

It could be a scene. It’s part of a story that tells its own story. Some people call it flash fiction. You don’t quite get a story from a vignette unless you get something longer than a single scene. It is to the story, what a sketch is to a painting. It’s a bare bones scene. So, if you are stuck in process of writing, try writing the story, or scene, as a vignette and see if it works. If it does, incorporate the narrative into it and move on with your story.

The vignette is a valuable tool for learning the craft of writing. As with most tools, it will work well for one person and not so much for another. You won’t know which category is the one you belong in until you try. Just remember that you don’t need minute details. Just enough description to set the stage and add your action. Or, if you use it as a study of the place, describe the setting in broad strokes. I do that when I am creating a story. I use the vignettes of the locations for the action to create the backdrop for the action. I add in details where it’s needed. I do the broad strokes description before I write the story and incorporate the broad strokes and color them in during the writing process. It works for me. It’s like the idea of using photographs of places to make your story richer and more rooted in the real world. The vignette is the photograph.

It also works when you are describing your characters. Do a verbal sketch before you begin the action where you put your character to the test. It will help you to stay accurate in describing what your character is doing, adding the little touches like, “she brushed her brown hair out of her face” as you work to bring the character alive. After all, if she is blond in one scene and dark in another, you can, will, and should be, called out on consistency. The vignette can help keep your descriptions consistent. You’ll be glad to have them when you write your story.


I am not one who is comfortable talking about myself but here goes. I enjoy writing, family history, and reading. I decided to do this blog because I wanted to try something new. I decided to make it a weekly blog because I wasn't sure that I could keep up with a daily one, and monthly seemed like I was writing a magazine. I think I did ok with my choices. You'll notice that there are not a lot of graphics on my site. That's because there are graphics plastered everywhere on the Internet and those sites sometimes take forever to load. This blog is a place where you can kick back, relax and be ready to be amused. At least I hope I willbamuse you. This blog is on a variety of subjects from my ficitional cat agency, the FFL, which is monthly, to instructional blogs to editorials, which are my opinions only. I admit that I don't know everything and could be wrong -- I frequently am. Now, stop reading about me and read what I have to say!

Tagged with: , , , , , , ,
Posted in General Opinion, Writing Techniques

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 248 other subscribers
© Lisa Hendrickson and Pebblepup's Writing Den, 2010-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lisa Hendrickson and Pebblepup's Writing Den with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
%d bloggers like this: