1. Anya-Rose
    Offline

    Anya-Rose New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2009
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Orlando, FL

    Writing Description

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Anya-Rose, May 10, 2009.

    Lately I've realized I have some trouble writing description, or rather, with how much description I should write. A while back I was told that I rambled a little when writing (which, admittedly, I did and probably still do at times) so I think now I'm afraid to go into too much detail and potentially bore my readers. I love reading good description in novels but when I write I find myself hesitant to write even a small paragraph describing the setting, for example. What do you think is the best way to go about this? Is it better to describe the setting (or character) all at once, or write just a little and add details here and there? What do you think is too much description, or what's too little?
     
  2. fantasy girl
    Offline

    fantasy girl Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2009
    Messages:
    591
    Likes Received:
    4
    forget your fears, get one setting from youe novell that you think dosn't have enough discription, get a new page up on MS word and writie a page about that scene, you could do this for every scene (maby not everyone) take the adiquet information out then work it into the piece.
     
  3. arron89
    Offline

    arron89 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    2,460
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    Auckland
    I'm a sucker for well written description and would be quite happy to read a piece with no dialogue as long as the description was done well (although there are bound to be others here who disagree, which is why this site is so great!).
    So, I would say, if you write description well, then write it as much as you feel you need to. Some people will probably call it rambly, but I guess its just a different aesthetic to the fast-paced, narrative-intensive works some readers prefer. That said, take their criticisms seriously; if you're not writing well enough, those people will tell you very explicitly, styistic prejudices aside.
     
  4. fantasy girl
    Offline

    fantasy girl Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2009
    Messages:
    591
    Likes Received:
    4
    i agree with you arron , i would quite happily read a book with no dialouge, i think it's the discription and naratives that make a story not the speech, but as you said many people will dissagree
     
  5. arron89
    Offline

    arron89 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    2,460
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    Auckland
    I don't know about this. Seems like it would produce a pretty disjointed passage, and if you're focussing on description (if that is your strength) then its probably not a good idea to:
    A) Limit yourself to a brief description of the setting before moving on to something else, which leads to;
    B) Intergrate the description fully with the piece,so that it doesn't read plot-description-plot-description etc. I think this is what most people think of when they hear "very descriptive", simply because it is such a common and obvious (and avoidable!) mistake.
     
  6. fantasy girl
    Offline

    fantasy girl Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2009
    Messages:
    591
    Likes Received:
    4
    just saying what my english teacher told me when i was having a similar problem, thats all. not saying it's nesesarely right, but it worked for me and i got a higher mark, personally i think it depends on your writing style
     
  7. xxtake_controlxx
    Offline

    xxtake_controlxx Member

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2009
    Messages:
    59
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    New York
    I agree with Aaron. I personally generally write much less dialogue and much more description of everything - not only setting, but feelings and emotions as well. Then again, I'm not a huge fan of when there is too much description; like when the description begins rambling a tremendous amount on something that really doesn't influence the story at all.

    So, in line with my personal taste, I'm going to advise that, when using description, you describe what is important to the story and stay away from describing something like the trees outside the window for three paragraphs if the trees don't play a role in anything.

    But, the general advice is really just to write what you think works. Don't be afraid to write something; what you write can always be changed. Writing from your heart is a good start; you generally put everything in that you want. And then you can put that up for critique and change it according to what other people say. Something like the amount of description in a piece can change from story to story depending on the style of writing, the type of story, the POV, etc. Finding the happy medium may take a really long time to find. If you just write from your heart and post that, see what others have to say, and take their critiques to heart, you'll probably start to cater your writing to that subconsciously. Sometimes making a conscious decision to change something can affect your writing as a whole instead of what you want to change, and that may not be good. So, just remember that what you write isn't set in stone. So write. Take critiques to heart. And then change it to suit the story.
     
  8. Mello
    Offline

    Mello Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2009
    Messages:
    62
    Likes Received:
    0
    Make descriptions and sensory details that are relevant to the story and give readers a better idea of where they are and what they should be feeling or anticipating. It is your world, and you can make every thing in it join together and help tell your story; think about that.
     
  9. Gallowglass
    Offline

    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
    Messages:
    1,617
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    Loch na Seilg, Alba
    Break up description with action, and it's fine. Keep something moving, and make sure something is happening:

    If you do that, you can, within reason, put in as much description as you like. Just don't use the same word twice or use bizarre metaphors, though, or it will become a struggle for your reader to understand what you are trying to say as they work out what is true and what is just imagery.

    Also, end the description with a movement that brings the reader back into the story.
     
  10. Gurari
    Offline

    Gurari Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2009
    Messages:
    95
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    I remember reading (maybe in the Art of Fiction?? I can't remember where) that everything written should serve some purpose in enhancing the experience of the story without detracting from the readability. In other words, unless your purpose is to distract the reader from the story, you as the writer are charged with making sure that nothing is out of place. For example, if you have obvious typo's or poor grammar, readers take note and the story is interrupted.

    I think that this principle completely applies to description as well. If the description doesn't serve a purpose, what's the point of having it? If it's too long and you find it distracting, your reader will too. If it's too short and you find yourself wondering about the setting, or being confused about why, say, some man ended up against a wall that seemed to appear out of nowhere, maybe some more description is needed. As to incrementally writing description vs. describing it all at once, I'd say that again plays to what works for the story. It probably depends on the writing style you use in the piece as well as what you are saying.
     
  11. architectus
    Offline

    architectus Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,796
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Ca


    Removing dialog doesn't leave you with only description.

    There is:

    Dialog
    Action
    Narration (general)
    Description
    Introspection
    Thoughts (sort of like dialog)

    It could be argued that introspection and thoughts are the same, but they are written differently.

    Description, I think, is the most dull of these.



    Naration: A storm struck on the night Laura Shane was born, and there was a strangeness about the weather that people would remember for years. - Dean koontz, Lighting.

    Description: The day was hot, clear, and dry. Wildflowers by the hundreds blazed along the edge of the yard where the mown area gave way to wild grass and weeds near the forest line. Squirrels had been at play on the grass a while ago, and birds had been singing, but the shooting had temporarily frightened them away. - DK

    Action: Markwell slumped in the chair behind his desk, drinking Scotch to keep warm. The persistent chill that troubled him was not caused by a winter draft but by an internal frigidity of the mind and heart. - DK

    Introspection: He was drunk, and he was going to deliver a baby, and maybe he was going to botch it, which would mean the end of his career, the destruction of his reputation, but he did not . . .- DK

    Thoughts: She wondered if he really could see her. But how else would he know where she was? -- This is one way to do thoughts. The other is, But how else would he know where I was, she thought.

     
  12. arron89
    Offline

    arron89 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    2,460
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    Auckland
    You can't divide them that clealy. There are descriptive elements in all of the examplesyou provide there. I guess I was generalising too when I talked about "a piece without dialogue" when i really meant with predominantly descriptive passages. But yeah, you can't reallyextract description as its own thing, its something that is worked into narration and action and thought, and what I mean by a descriptive-heavy piece would be one that works a lot of description into those elements. And to say thatone is more dull than another is misguided. A quick look around this site will show you tht some authors write far more compelling description (if you want to make that its own entity) than action or narration.
     
  13. DRLynn
    Offline

    DRLynn New Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2009
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Here's the thing: If you overthink what you're writing, you won't write anything. Get it all down on paper and then go back over it. That's what editing is for, after all. So just get your ideas down and then worry about all of the technical stuff. Hope this helps.

    Lynn
     
  14. lynneandlynn
    Offline

    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    746
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    Heh. I wish I had this problem...mine lies in the opposite direction. I tend to not use *enough* description because I have a tendency to write from a purely emotional angle and forget that I need to include the physical properties of the setting in my writing. So I can't really offer you any advice...except to just write and then go back and fix it later. It's what I do.

    ~Lynn
     
  15. Atari
    Offline

    Atari Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2009
    Messages:
    455
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Louisiana
    Hmh. It was an interesting post, until you answered your own question.
     

Share This Page