1. Zombie_Chinchilla
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    Zombie_Chinchilla Member

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    Too Much Description Or Not Enough?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Zombie_Chinchilla, Sep 13, 2010.

    When it comes to describing, I tend to overdo it. And I seem to run into a long of novels/short stories that don't describe enough.

    So if you had the choice to read something that was overly descriptive or not described enough, which would you choose?

    I'd definitely choose overly descriptive. I love to have an image of something in my head when I read.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Too much or not enough, either is a mistake. Learn to recognize when you have described just enough.
     
  3. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    Hmm....I'm torn. In an action story, I'd go for less description. I just want to cut to the chase. But in a more sentimental story, description would be needed in a way. Hmm....I still find myself wanting less description in stories. A bit is mandatory to set the scene and create your characters at that moment, but "less is more" I guess you could say.

    T
     
  4. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    Descriptions of right length at the right time is always enjoyable to read... otherwise I mostly skim through them.
     
  5. Chudz
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    Chudz Contributing Member

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    My current style of writing seems--to me at least--to be lighter on description, leaving blanks for readers to fill in on their own. I admire authors that are true wordsmiths, though, able to lay things out in glorious detail without bogging things down. So I'd have to answer the question by stating that I would read whichever had the most compelling story. And if they were both equal, I would probably read both.
     
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  6. John Cleeves
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    John Cleeves Member

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    Readers fill in the blanks. It's a lot easier to be overly descriptive. If you're having trouble judging, try to give a little as possible; there's less chance to do wrong, and less to fix when you are.
     
  7. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Definitely too much I can always edit out what is there but I can't put in anything the author leaves out. Personally I like books with description - I like to have an idea of eye and hair colour and a little bit about what the character is wearing, I like to know a bit about what their surroundings are and I would rather have that annoying little bit that doesn't fit to do it than have it missed out totally. My question is what kind of book do you like to read? Write what you like to read.

    Entirely agree with this the story is way more important - Robert Neill for me is the master of setting the scene with his red wine velvet clothing, flame kirtle in damask, peach taffeta, miseltoe, fires etc I haven't read his books in a few month but I can still picture his characters and where they are standing. Somehow the way he write you know it is vital for you to know.

    Then you get Patricia Cornwell who describes the people and surroundings like it is an autopsy when you first see them but I like to find my characters sexy and it is harder when you don't have the basics - I personally will read and enjoy a story without but I am not as invested in the characters. By the end of my first chapter I want my readers to know my main character is tall, dark-haired, blue eyed, olive skinned, and has a nice asset round the back. I want them to know he is wearing a dark blue fighting uniform and a suit jacket etc,
     
  8. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Describe away, every single minuet detail.
    Then when it comes to editing you can always delete what you don't need.
    Only leave in what is necessary to give some visual imagery, a sense and feel for the time and place.
    Leave room for the readers own imagination.
    I am not into over descriptive passages.
     
  9. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    When deciding how much is just enough have in mind that description is nor just a matter of quantity or quality, but also a matter of meaning and context.

    Even if you describe beautifully and with humour and lots of vivid color it will fast become to much if it don't add much meaning into the scene and context.
     
  10. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    If it doesn't make the story better, cut it.

    Otherwise it's like talking to someone who can't stick to the point of what they're saying and start weaving and babbling...and you start to look for an excuse to avoid them.
     
  11. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    Absolutely. I love Dickens. His descriptive powers are astonishing. Yet for much of the time I'm screaming, "Get the **** on with it, Charlie!"

    Reading is - or should be - an imaginative exercise too.
     
  12. Lothgar
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    Lothgar Contributing Member

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    There is a point where endless description crosses the line and becomes boring, which endangers you work of having the reader move on to other activities.

    Personally, I think it best to keep descriptions to just a few sentences at most, preferably just one.

    If the description is important to the actual plot, and not just setting the scene, maybe a whole paragraph. In that paragraph I'd focus on the details that are relevant to the plot and gloss over the fluff.

    Just my opinion.
     
  13. Quorum1
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    I have the same tendancy to get wound up in describing every detail of a scene. I realised, reading back on my work, that it was for my benefit rather than the reader's. Describing helps me get the ball rolling and helps me know where things are and what they look like so I can negotiate the scene. So now I write my descriptions and then edit most of them out.

    I admire JK Rowling's way of describing. She has this incredibly vivid world but when you look carefully you'll see very few blocks of description because she imbeds it into the story and the character's actions.

    To answer your question, I agree with the PP who said that it depends on the type of story and where it is in the story, because either too much or not enough can be very irritating!
     
  14. dreamstate
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    dreamstate Member

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    I seem to have the opposite problem. I got a story rejected,with some personal advice that I should "show" a bit more then I "tell".
     
  15. white
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    white Banned

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    I over-describe in the first draft, and try to slim it down considerably later on. A vivid description here and there, or a well placed verb is sufficient most times.
     

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