Description sometimes gets a bad rap, but once mastered, adds great depth to a story. Here is my boring post for the week. Please, go back and read other posts for any hint of humor if you start yawning.
- Is your description filled with cliches and well-worn similis? Rewrite.
- Do you describe your setting or character as a long paragraphed laundry list? Rewrite. Use one line of description when a character is introduced, but then intersperse extra description through the action and dialogue tags.
- Does your description of setting take place in the middle of the scene? Move closer to the beginning.
- Did your word choice play double duty? Did they not only describe but help set the mood? Or reveal subtle clues about the character?
- Do you end up focusing on one part of the face all the time? You know those ochre-golden-shimmering eyes? Eyes are good, but you can use other parts of the body to show emotion.
- Alliterative Allomorph says: Is your book full of descriptions and backstory that you ‘think’ your reader needs to know? Copy and paste all of your descriptive paragraphs into another document, so that you are only left with the present action. You’ll probably find your plot moves along at better pace. Your readers need to spend time with your characters. Let your readers discover who your characters are for themselves, instead of you telling them who they are.
- Tina Lee says: Does your description follow the route your eyes would? Especially in the case of character description, don’t jump from the face to feet and back again.
- Kris says: Do you rely on adverbs? My tip – lately I’ve been trying to be conscious of limiting the adverbs to describe action. Use action to describe action. It’s hard, though. Instinctively, I want to use adverbs…slowly, guiltily, weirdly.
- Lisa Green says: Do you have more description about the beautiful lilies lining the path to the gate or even the hot and mysterious boy with the smoldering eyes than you do of your MC’s actions and reactions? If so, you better go back and figure out what you’re trying to get across to the reader. (I like this one. Proportion. What you are describing should be important to the story.)
- Catherine says: Do you find yourself using the same descriptive words and phrases over and over? Use find and replace to catch those pesky buggers.
Help me fill out the list because I can’t handle being boring any longer today. Write your question in the comments below along with a suggested answer, and if I pick your question, I’ll include a link to your blog or website. You can focus on any kind of description – setting, character, action, world building. Share your knowledge! Thanks.
Update: Thanks for participating and commenting. Great advice! Feel free to add your advice in the comments!
And check out this recent post from Gail Carson Levine’s blog on description and thoughts! Scroll down to Feb. 24th for the right post. Great advice.