Too Little Description?

I’m known to be blunt.

I often find myself involved in a conversation between two people that goes something like this:

Person 1: “blah blah unimportant details blah blah”

Person 2: “I have no idea what you’re talking about. Do you understand, Kira?”

Me: Condenses what Person 1 said into one or two simple sentences.

Person 1: “Yeah, exactly!”

Person 2: “Oooh, okay.”

Although this is a great skill for getting things done, I worry that my writing is too simple. Writing is an art, and people don’t want to feel like they’re reading a instruction manual when reading fiction.

Many times when I have to write descriptive passages — what a room looks like, what a character looks like — I get bored and impatient. If I’m bored, my readers will be too.

I was going to provide an example from my book, but looking back, my descriptions are embarrassingly terrible and they are going to need a lot of work before I show them to anyone. For example, I used basic and simple to describe two different things in the same sentence. I have a paragraph of character description where three sentences in a row start with “he”.

I need help, Ya’ll.

Here’s what I’m going to do to improve my character and setting descriptions going forward:

  1. Convert the images in my head into the right words. Like most writers, I have a very clear mental image of what my characters and settings look like. I need to put more care into making sure my readers can develop a similar image. I remember when the first Harry Potter movie came out, I thought it was so cool that the characters looked almost exactly how I had imagined they looked when I read the books. The descriptions were simple, but vivid.
  2. Have fun! Although I’m not ecstatic about having to go back and rewrite a bunch of descriptions, I think it will be fun, in a way.  As I’m writing new stuff, I need to be more aware of when I’m getting bored, so I can figure out why that is and fix it.
  3. Read, read, read. It’s the best way to see what works and what doesn’t. What kind of descriptions do I love as a reader?

Some helpful articles on the subject:

Most Common Writing Mistakes: The Case of the Vanishing Setting

Description: Too Much or Too Little?

How to Write Descriptive Passages Without Boring the Reader or Yourself

Thanks for reading,

Kira J. Cole

 

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