Wednesday, 1 February 2012

It's the little things

When I'm reading a book, one of the things I hate the most is having to read four pages which explain the shape and colour of a tree in exquisite detail. I hate it. It makes me skip ahead to get to the good stuff.

As a direct result of me skipping detailed descriptions for as long as I have been reading, I am completely crap at writing them. For the most part, I avoid describing anything too much because I find it tedious to write, and that will become painfully obvious to anyone who attempts to read it.

The problem is, if these descriptions are missing, there is a gigantic gap in what people know about my characters. Items and furnishings in a character's home give an insight into who they are, as do the places they go to, and the people they know. Sure, sometimes imagination is good, but if too much is left unsaid, it makes the story hollow.

I know I am stating the obvious here, but it feels like one of those times when I need to write it down as another lesson I've learned (lol, you must all think I am a terrible writer, walking myself through the very basic and most obvious things!). The thing is, one of my biggest strengths is my ability to write emotion. I can describe things which happen inside a person's brain pretty easily. It's the physical things I struggle with.

Perhaps I need to set myself some homework, to read descriptions carefully and without my eyes glazing over. If you have any suggestion on how to improve in this area, please let me know!


16 comments:

  1. Hum ... this is an interesting one.

    I agree, if you yourself don't like reading descriptions then when you go to write them, that will show in your writing.

    However, I also agree that details about a character's home, furnishings and belongings can be very telling about a characters.

    Perhaps it is worth almost forcing yourself to write descriptions and then, as you do it more often, you'll improve.

    Though if you don't improve or you still find it tedious a story can still thrive without the descriptions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Forcing it is really hard, but that is what I always have to do. :(

      But I have decided that a story can still work with minimal-ish description - as long as the descriptions used are in the right places. :D

      Delete
  2. I think it's the details that matter. I tend to keep my descriptions sparse, but as effective as I can by including the right details ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, that is what I have found too.

      I am actually better at writing descriptions than I think I am, but because I am working with something I originally wrote a while ago, it is a challenge to weave in what I know now, with what I knew (or didn't know lol) then. But it is coming together at last! :D

      Delete
  3. The scariest movie monsters are the ones you only catch glimpses of. Same way with book descriptions. They are like spice to a book, too much makes it hard to digest! Roland

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's an excellent point! I will keep that in mind when I am stressing myself out over descriptions! :D

      Delete
  4. Anyone can write pages of description. The best writers can capture the came idea in one sentence :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That actually makes me feel a whole lot better! Thanks! :D

      Delete
  5. Books are best writing teacher in my humble opinion:) Love the font. Cool blog!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks!

      Books are definitely a great teacher. I think I need to schedule much more time in my day to read!

      Delete
  6. I took a writing class once where I asked the teacher about how to write good physical descriptions. She said that writers don't necessarily have to go on for several paragraphs or pages when describing things. They can include bits and pieces of description a little at a time, such as describing the color of a character's hair as she's brushing it (rather than describing every aspect of her physical appearance) or the sounds heard in the street as another character is walking around.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great tip! Sometimes when you're describing a character's appearance, it can seem like you are just writing a list, and that is something I have often struggled with. Spreading it out makes a lot more sense! :D

      Delete
  7. I have a tendency to leave out a lot of details, descriptions, too. I like action, so I tend to put a lot of action in.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Phew, I am so happy to hear I am not the only one! I like action too. :D

      Delete
  8. Good points raised here. Yes we all have areas of writing that we enjoy and do well at and others that are less rewarding/ proficient. The answer is yes, challenge yourself to write better in those areas which need more work. I had to work on dialogue and now it's much better.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am definitely going to keep on challenging myself to work harder in the areas that are difficult for me. Dialogue is actually one of my strengths - but sometimes I have overused it - which is something else I need to work on lol!

      Delete