Are you scared of putting too much or too little description in your stories? In this post, we’ve included a quick start guide to writing descriptions.
A Quick Start Guide To Writing Descriptions
Why Do I Need A Viewpoint Character?
Description is all about viewpoint. We can only experience what the viewpoint character senses – or the author wants us to know. Once you’ve made your decision about your viewpoint characters, your job as a writer gets easier.
Description through a lens allows us to get to know the character and their reaction to a setting – and everything else.
When Do We Need To Describe?
We need to describe to set the scene. If your character is walking on a foggy street, they will probably think about it – or remark on it if they are not alone.
We need to describe when something unusual happens or if something has changed. For example, if your character comes home and an expensive painting is missing, you need to describe the rest of the setting to give us an idea of who we’re dealing with.
If an acquaintance or a friend decides to ruin something in the setting, you have carte blanche as a detective or an observer to describe everything. Change is a powerful tool when you’re describing. They can be little changes as well.
Why Do We Need To Describe?
We need to let the reader know where we are. If they are confused, they will go elsewhere. Use a scene marker to tell us where we are. For example, if your character lives in New York, they could go to a window and think about living in Manhattan. Don’t overdo it, but let us know where we are.
How Do We Need To Describe?
We need to be aware that genre dictates difference in length, type, details, and intensity of description. A romance requires more expansive descriptions, a slower pace, and details that show characters.
We need to show and not tell whenever we can. A thriller needs more showing than a literary novel, for example,
What Do We Need To Describe?
We need to describe things that show us who a character is and things that move the plot forward. If your descriptions do neither of these things, re-consider your use of them.
© Amanda Patterson
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