This is something that I’m very guilty of in my own writing – too much description. Although, in my mind, I don’t think there is really such a thing unless you use too many adjectives all run together and keep repeating yourself.
Description is very important in your writing and draws the reader into your story. I really like to know everything about a story I’m reading, so I can be right in the place with the characters. What do you fellow writers think about this? I think all the senses should be covered. There are many possible situations when it comes to writing. Let’s look at a couple of simple scenarios to explain my point of description.
If you’re at a carnival you want to get caught up in the excitement with your characters. You should be able to feel that thrill and smell the onion and mustard wafting from the food carts, hear the screams of the carnival riders and get caught up in the street scene.
If it’s a nice day, feel the sun on your back in the summer and the dirt between your toes as you shuffle between the rides and the food booths. Listen to the vendors calling people over and the rattle or thump as people toss balls or coins to win prizes.
In my opinion, it is so important to see, smell, touch, taste and hear every scene. Of course that doesn’t mean to overdo it. Once the scene has been set up, there is no need to go over all the details again.
Let’s take another scenario. It’s summer in a suburban neighborhood. As you walk down the street or sidewalk, someone is mowing the lawn. You want to smell that new-mown grass, hear the whirr of the motor and feel the sigh as the person works hard and looks at the great expanse of lawn yet to be mowed.
Perhaps someone is watching from the porch, sitting in the shade sipping lemonade. You can hear the tinkle of ice in the glass and the satisfied swallow on a hot day. Down the street kids are playing ball. Their laughter almost drowns out the birdsong in the trees overhead.
As you walk along someone else is hanging out clothes to dry on an old fashioned clothesline. The breeze brings you the fresh scent of soap as they flutter in the wind. You notice the woman’s frustration as she wrestles with the clothes pins and stray strands of hair blowing across her face. She wears a white, ruffled apron over a plain housedress. For a moment this takes you back in time with some brief snippet of your childhood.
A story should draw your interest. Is this woman like your mother or another acquaintance you have known? You remember playing ball as a kid and mowing the lawn for spending money. Summers were a great time, especially for kids, even if there were chores to do.
This looks like an ordinary family doing things that ordinary families would do on a summer day, but we all know there is always more to any story. So what is in store for this family? What issues do they have to face and overcome?
The bottom line is to set up any story with places and characters that can be related to in some way. As the reader, we want to be walking along with them through all the drama they may face in their lives.
Description should be right up there after believable characters and a great story.