Throwback Thursday…wherein the newbie writer makes mistakes!

 

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Did you ever bake a cake? How did your very first one turn out? You probably have fond memories, but I’m guessing it wasn’t exactly Wilton perfection. I feel the same way about my early books. Counting back some fifteen years ago, I had a passion for describing words. Oh my sunsets were sparkling with every color of the rainbow. Those characters were described down to the tiniest freckle. I suspect even the fictional pets were detailed to the ‘nth’ degree. While I am still guilty of an overuse of adverbs as my writing partners will tell you, I’ve changed. Why? In the words of Leonard Elmore, I try to leave out the parts readers skip.

Readers are smart and they don’t like to be spoon fed. Give them a hint or two, a suggestion of hair color and an interesting sketch of the setting. Don’t beat them over the head with it! Your job is to sketch out the fictional world and let their imaginations fill in the details. Lesson learned…I hope!

Do you get bored with too much description? As a reader, it didn’t used to bother me, but now when I go back and reread some of the classic books I used to enjoy, I find the description heavy handed. What are your thoughts? Giving away a January gift card and signed book this month.Β 

 

 

 

18 responses to this post.

  1. I completely agree… I love classic novels, but find now rereading them I will skip read scan through the descriptions and only actually read the meat of the books). Now when it comes to books I haven’t read, even if I struggle, I will read descriptions, but allow my imagination to wander to what I think it would be.
    Completely off the subject, does anyone else have a hard time parting with their books, even the ones they’ve already read like me? I love my books, and refuse to part with any of them!!

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  2. Posted by Suzan Michet on January 17, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    Yes ! That was why, despite being a redhead, I was never an “Anne of Green Gables” fan, she was far too descriptive ! Verbose even ! I preferred L.M. Montgomery’s later book, Pat of Silver Bush. Besides, leaving some to the imagination allows the imagination to work !

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  3. When reading older books I still enjoy them because I recognize the time and the writing style matches. People were not as “worldly”. I think the detailed descriptions sometimes helped sell the books. Modern books though are different and I don’t think many authors could get away with as much description.
    I agree that we all visualize characters differently. A friend I read often did not have the main character on the books originally. When the books were republished they had the covers redone and I had a different picture in mind than the model that was chosen for them.

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  4. Posted by Samantha B on January 16, 2015 at 4:37 am

    I have to admit I don’t like to much description (and I do skip it sometimes :P) All I need is enough description to get the general idea and as you said, I fill in the blanks.
    Even when authors describe very precisely their characters, I feel my mental picture of those characters still never matches πŸ˜‰ I will always imagine the characters my own way, with or without description πŸ™‚

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  5. Posted by Shanda on January 15, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    I find I often can no longer get through books I adore, books I have lived and breathed, life-changing books. Perhaps it is society, tv, movies, games, the change in delivery, pace, expectation. Ennui. Or ….
    Maybe description is like real estate. Location, location, location. Where you put it and in relation to what? Scenes must have description. It’s vital to grounding the time and place, to orienting the reader. But I think the reader wants to be lured in, shown a little at a time. Uh, kinda like a description seduction.. πŸ™‚ Again, location, location, location. Mystery, leaving some to the imagination . . . paramount to hooking the reader and letting them engage with the scene. The mind, after all, likes to do a little of the work. πŸ™‚

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  6. I agree also. I usually like detailed descriptions, but the subject matters, and they can’t slow the story down too much. For example, I usually like those types of mystery where the MC has a hobby or passion and I get to learn more about it, but once I read one about rowing that I just couldn’t get excited about.

    Yes, leave out the parts readers skip. Its as simple and as difficult as that.

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  7. Posted by Valri Western on January 15, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    I agree with the other two commenters! If it’s something you enjoy, it’s not too bad but if not, the book bogs down. However, the author doesn’t know that! The author is writing to many different people! I recently read a book that included submarine warfare and the details were just too detailed! I loved the characters and the story but the submarine part of it dragged for me and I found myself skipping through a lot of it because there were pages and pages of it. I think there can be a happy medium!

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  8. Yes, some classics are tough to reread. Now that I read YA and MG, since that’s what I write, I sometimes find the pace of adult novels too slow. It’s usually the extra description which drags the action. It’s a good warning for authors!

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  9. For me I think it depends on what’s being described. I love mountains, birds, flowers and trees, animals, etc., so if an author describes these in detail I’m okay with it. If there is a lot of lengthy detail about something that doesn’t particularly interest me I get bored. The problem is people like different things so I’m sure this can be challenging for writers. I read a book last year that described in full detail, for an entire chapter, a lighthouse keeper’s job, and the intricacies of a lighthouse. It was way too much for me and the chapter was very boring. I finished the book, which was pretty good, but I still remember that dreadful beginning chapter. Incidentally, I like lighthouses, but the description of the workings of one was not my cup of tea.

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