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Illuminate

Illumination



Full Details


In his profile of the Godmother of Soul, Kalefa Sanneh describes Erykah Badu this way:

On a cloudy recent afternoon, Badu was dressed down, in loose jeans and a baggy denim shirt, made baggier by a tear that ran from the hem nearly up to one armpit. This modification may have been accidental, but on her it looked like evidence of a trend that the rest of the world hadnt yet caught up with.

Sanneh uses physical details that allow us readers to see Badu. But then—and this is where Sanneh’s brilliance really shines—he provides his own interpretation of what he’s observing: This modification may have been accidental, but on her it looked like evidence of a trend that the rest of the world hadnt yet caught up with. How masterfully Sanneh illuminates Badu with this one line! We now not only see Badu, but also feel her power her stage presence that permeates the world even when shes off stage.

Dear writers, in preparation for Mays Profile Feature Writing competition, try your hand at describing a real person—someone you know personally or someone you admire on the world stage—in TWO sentences. Like Sanneh, see if you can allow your readers to see your subject while also conveying a quality that goes beyond the physical.

Need another example? worldwithinapaperbackshows us how it's done in her rendering "Wilde."