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Mon Jan 30, 2012 7:33 pm
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BlueAfrica says...

I don't do a lot of it. It always feels awkward to me, like I have to just stop the story for a moment if I want to actually get a really good, visualizeable piece of description in there, which is a problem I have with setting. You probably know where the setting IS, but you usually don't know what it looks like. I got a little better at this during Nano 2011 and actually laid out the MC's uncle's house for you, but I'm still struggling.

Below is a piece of description I just wrote into Country Boy. This was a little easier to get in there than usual, because Jack has just pulled into his brother's driveway, and since he's at home for the first time in two years he stands there for a minute and takes it in. If I could get some feedback on this, specifically, just to see how I'm doing - if I need more description here or if this is good - that would be awesome. Tips on slipping description into the story without stopping the story would also be helpful...this is the one thing that just gives me no end of trouble in my writing.

Cities and towns flashed by and gradually gave way to wide, flat fields abutted by woods. It was four-thirty by the time Jack pulled into his brother’s driveway, a long gravel drive in need of re-graveling where the turbulent spring had washed potholes into it. The beige house at the top of it was surrounded by soy, rippling green fields of soy that surrounded the pond and came almost all the way up to the swing set on the right side of the house and were absent on the left side only on top of the septic mound. Swallows darted over the fields, and somewhere at the edges of the property, where marshy areas still stood unclaimed by agriculture, red-winged blackbirds were calling. Jack stepped out of the car, let the dog out, and inhaled deeply.


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Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:23 pm
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Sureal says...

That's fine. You don't need any more description than that.

(Random note: watch your word usage - you use 'soy' twice really close together, and it reads awkwardly. When double checking your writing, watch out for this sort of unitended repitition.)

Description in general is overated, in my opinion. It's the bit that the reader is most likely to skip over - because description is generally boring - and I personally try to avoid writing anything that anyone would skip.

Every sentence has to contribute to the story, remember. This applies to description also. Every little bit of it has to set the mood of the scene, or reveal something about a character, or progress the plot, or whatever. Try to do this with as little description as possible.

Don't just write description for the sake of having description, or 'helping the reader picture the scene' (because they'll have forgotten ninety percent of your beautiful scene-setting within seconds of having read it).

The old adage 'less is more' is generally true for most aspects of writing fiction, and it's especially true for description.
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Sat Feb 25, 2012 2:57 pm
Dynamo says...

Most of the time your readers will conjure their own image of what a character or place will look like, so unless it's absolutely nescessary you don't have to go into heavy detail about most things, just a basic description will do.

As for what quallifies as absolutely nescessary, if there's an object in your story or a character with an appearance that is integral to the plot then you'll want to go into heavy detail.
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