1. serowden
    Offline

    serowden Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2012
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    0

    How do you feel about descriptive text?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by serowden, Sep 22, 2012.

    Should it:

    a) Be done in great detail, to give beautiful imagery of everything from how characters look to the exact placement of every object in a room where a scene takes place -- because words are poetry, and beautifully depict people, places, things, and etc.

    b) Described in detail or in very little detail based on _____ -- because some things are important, and some things are not. (Blank: What is important and what is not?)

    c) Described in very minimal detail, to give the reader the ability to imagine the world for himself with general guidelines that enable the plot and the understanding of its characters via only memorable and important features to relevant people, places, and things -- because detailed description ultimately slows the progression of the plot and is not what the modern reader prefers to read passages about anyway.
     
  2. peachalulu
    Offline

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,829
    Likes Received:
    2,382
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    All three
    - Use great detail - but know when to weild it -using the most concise words as possible.
     
  3. serowden
    Offline

    serowden Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2012
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    0
    That's ultimately what this thread is about. Perhaps knowing when to wield it feels intuitive, but it can be broken down into a system.

    When do you think description is important, and when do you think it's in the way? How much is too much, and how much is too little?
     
  4. prettyprettyprettygood
    Offline

    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    Messages:
    452
    Likes Received:
    46
    Location:
    Edinburgh
    I think the main consideration is the skill and style of the writer. I'd instinctively say I prefer more minimalist writing, but I do love reading a descriptive piece that is evocative and transports me to its setting, without any purple prose or blocks of pure description that I have a habit of skimming over. I'm very jealous of writers who have that skill.
     
  5. peachalulu
    Offline

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,829
    Likes Received:
    2,382
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    Too much would be when it has no bearing on the scene and interrupts the action -
    I like to read vintage gothic romances. They can be great examples on how not to use descriptions -
    the heroine could be running for her life through a crumbly old mansion and the writer
    starts rhapsodizing about the red velvet wallpaper!

    - So if it interrupts the action - keep descriptions sparse.

    Too much again could be also when the writer starts setting a scene that quickly gets out of
    hand. A cup doesn't just become a cup it becomes the wedgewood cup and so-and-so's great
    grandmother gave to the heroine as a wedding present and nearly got broke several times so
    it was placed in the china cabinet so it could be admired without the risk - right next to
    the glass vase inherited when Aunt Claire died in that suspicious fire and inbetween ...You get the idea.


    - if it has no relevance on the scene - cut it.

    When can description be too slim? - I noticed in several stories when details pop up that had me going
    whoa, wait a minute, hold on. When a heroine unzips jeans that hadn't been previously described - but is suddenly
    essential to that scene - I hate that. A gun that suddenly appears in a purse.

    Describe - so that details don't become convenient

    Decribing characters - I read one story were the author went through great detail to describe an Adonis and it
    worked. Her language was the key. Rattling off a familiar list is dreary - A heroine with long, to-her-waist raven black hair, nipped
    in waist, a sumptious tan, violet eyes, luscious mouth is dull to everyone but her creator and this is when description
    can belly-flop. When things become merely surface observations - think about it describing the physical attributes of a
    character can almost have a quality of describing water-as-wet syndrome- the mood is flattened. You have to bring something to it.
    Give it an angle

    Description only becomes long winded when you're not offering your readers a fresh vision.
     
  6. captain kate
    Offline

    captain kate Active Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2008
    Messages:
    876
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Cruising through space.
    Somewhere in the middle of the three. Too much description becomes flowery and purple prose that slows your pacing to a crawl. Pacing controls everything, and the more your describe, the slower your pace becomes, so one has to watch how much is used at any one time-unless the writer desires to slow the pace before doing something active.
     
  7. MilesTro
    Offline

    MilesTro Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2007
    Messages:
    1,062
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Springfield
    I like details that are short and only important to what is going on in the plot and subplot. A long descriptive paragraph to me drags the story out too long. It makes me tire and makes me lose my interest to continue reading.

    You should also think how much the reader needs to know about the setting and your characters. And also think how much they want to know.
     
  8. shaunplus
    Offline

    shaunplus Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2012
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    I like descriptive imagery, but not flowery imagery. :p I think that imagery is only good if it makes a point.
     
  9. Audiomeleska
    Offline

    Audiomeleska New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2011
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Maquoketa, Iowa
    I am more centered on the story than I am the visualization. Unless the story requires it, I try to keep descriptions brief.

    On the other hand, I think it is better to avoid generic descriptions. Why use tree instead of oak, pine, ash, or sugar maple? None of these will slow down the story.

    If something needs a lengthy description, it should play into the story. The reader who goes through with a lengthy description of a scene, they deserve to have it be significant to the story.
     
  10. Program
    Offline

    Program Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2012
    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Writing a Program
    I'm pretty sure your question has varying answers based on what the piece of writing is. There are places where (a), (b) and (c) should be used and there are places where they should not. As for which to use, that is one of the challenges of writing that everyone experiences and I'm not sure if there is a good answer unless you give a specific scene and the context in which it appears.
     
  11. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    perhaps it can, but it shouldn't be... nothing in 'creative' writing should be broken down into a system... to do so takes it out of the realm of 'creative' and into 'formula'...
     
  12. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    The only times I really use a lot of description of surroundings or setting is if I need to set up a specific mood. I don't like plopping the reader down in a scene that demands "that" mood without preparation. But if it's just the same tension level as the overall book, I don't worry about it nearly as much. Characters descriptions are only included if I think something about their looks/physique is important because of what they'll be doing - getting into a fight, for example. But as mama said, there's no formula for it. Sometimes setting the mood can be accomplished much better by character actions or words. It all depends on the book and the scene.
     
  13. spklvr
    Offline

    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2010
    Messages:
    734
    Likes Received:
    36
    Location:
    Sarpsborg, Norway
    I have just one thought about this. Either do it right away or not at all. I hate it when places and characters aren't properly described until half-way in and disrupts the image I have formed. Personally I don't have a particular taste. I mean, I love Anne Rice who can use 16 words to describe a big rock, but it works for her. She can create an image so accurate, it's like reading a movie. If I ever try to write like that though, it just sounds awkward, so I am more minimalist. I do like giving a description of my main characters, but I try to use words that also describe their personality as much as I can.
     

Share This Page