Help or Hinder--Lots of Description

Sunday, August 29, 2010

How much description is too much?

She sat in the big blue chair, twirling her long brown tresses around her right pointer finger, and from her chestnut brown eyes she stared listlessly out the green-curtain clad window. Rewrite this to suit your idea of the perfect amount of description.

The reader needs to know she has a quirk of twirling her hair, the color of her hair doesn't matter, and staring out the window lets a reader know she is deep in thought over something, her eye color isn't relative and neither is the curtains.

A drastic rewrite.

She stared out the window.

What needs to be Conveyed?

Think about what will further the story. What is needed to convey and accurate view of what's happening. The reader needs to know she's listless and what she does to show this.

She twirled her long tresses as she focused on a tiny spot outside the outside the window.

Maybe you can spruce it up. What would you add or take out?

Start with a simple sentence.

Heavy curtains covered the windows and made the room dark.

Add to it.

Suzie bumped the coffee table as she fumbled through the darkness inching closer to the sliver of light that came through the heavily clad window. "Ouch!" She massaged her leg. "That'll leave a mark."

Writing Exercises Strengthen Creativity

I often feel too busy to do writing exercises. If I have a few spare minutes I want to just jump right into my current work in progress, but I find if I take the time to do a few exercises every month, I'm greatly rewarded.

Meredith Sue Willis has a nice exercise where she has gleaned a section from Chapter 54 of George Eliot's Daniel Deronda. She suggests rewriting the scene using modern characters. Try it and post your exercise in the comments.

Storytelling involves more than lining up the action pieces, arranging them in a logical order and then drawing conclusions. Dramatic action, conflict, tension, suspense and curiosity hook readers, but they still long to know about the character's emotional reactions and emotional development provide. It's the human element that keeps the pages turning.

Meredith Sue Willis *"description" (accessed August 27, 2010)


henya said...

Love the post. Well written. And yes, too much descriptions can tax a reader's attention span.

Cher'ley said...

Thanks Henya. It does.

Gift Baskets for Women said...

To be honest, when there is a lot of description, I just jump down to the "real story." Sorry all you writers out there. A little is ok, but if it goes on, I think it hurts the book. Just my opinion.

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