October 26, 2020, 09:50:44 AM

Author Topic: To Describe or Not To Describe  (Read 6230 times)

Offline Roxxsmom

Re: To Describe or Not To Describe
« Reply #15 on: August 08, 2015, 07:31:56 AM »
Didn't like Robert Jordan, and his dense prose was one of my problems.

It's not like description is all or nothing. I think it's possible to give a reader enough to go on without stopping the forward movement of the story or breaking point of view. If you're writing in first or limited third, there will be times when the character is examining her surroundings in more detail and times when they'll be focused on a particular person, and times when they'll be more contemplative/emotional.

Offline Raptori

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Re: To Describe or Not To Describe
« Reply #16 on: August 08, 2015, 08:35:09 AM »
Call me crazy, but I enjoyed Robert Jordan's description. Like mentioned above, its hard to please everyone. The wierd part is that I tend to limit description in my own writing. I vote for adding as much as necessary to show the scene as you imagine it, but still allowing the reader to find their own way. Look up the pyramid of abstraction sometime. Tons of discussion about the tug o war between abstract and concrete description.
You're crazy.  :P

I'm reading these now, and most of the "description" reads like a bunch of shopping lists. It's at its worst when the characters go to a busy city - a few times the description is a solid page-long paragraph listing every type of person in sight - and it's happening more and more often as the series goes along. I've started glazing over and skipping those bits, since otherwise I just get bogged down trying to picture everything and not managing it.  :-\
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Offline J.R. Darewood

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Re: To Describe or Not To Describe
« Reply #17 on: December 17, 2015, 07:45:39 AM »
Call me crazy, but I enjoyed Robert Jordan's description. Like mentioned above, its hard to please everyone. The wierd part is that I tend to limit description in my own writing. I vote for adding as much as necessary to show the scene as you imagine it, but still allowing the reader to find their own way. Look up the pyramid of abstraction sometime. Tons of discussion about the tug o war between abstract and concrete description.

I loved Jordan's description too.  I really made the world real for me.  But I'm sort of OCD like that-- I wanna know every detail.  When it comes to writing tho... I get lazy.

Offline Captain Blobby

Re: To Describe or Not To Describe
« Reply #18 on: December 17, 2015, 09:34:20 AM »
I prefer to have less description, to mirror what's been said before, the average sf/f reader is more likely to have their own imagination do the heavy lifting.

I found the description in ASOIAF tedious a lot of the time. I didn't need to know that Sandor Clegane wore a green doublet on the day of the tournament unless it somehow mattered to the story.


Offline Yora

Re: To Describe or Not To Describe
« Reply #19 on: December 17, 2015, 10:14:43 AM »
As someone who doesn't read doorstopper endless series, I almost always encounter too little description rather than too much. I always enjoy it when the story sets the scene to create the appropriate atmosphere and does not just stick to what people are saying and doing.
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Offline J.R. Darewood

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Re: To Describe or Not To Describe
« Reply #20 on: December 17, 2015, 12:24:20 PM »
I've noticed that my beta readers that were only *readers* (as in not writers) tended to want more discription, but the beta readers that were writers prefered to use their own imaginations.

Offline Yora

Re: To Describe or Not To Describe
« Reply #21 on: December 17, 2015, 01:56:44 PM »
My hunch would be to give greater weight to the comments by non-writers. When writers comment they not simply tell you what they liked or didn't like, but how they would have done it.
And as a writer the really important things are what you like to write and what your readers like to read. Other writers are great of suggesting options you might consider. I don't consider them great for recommending which options you should choose.  :D
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Offline OhTheSqualor

Re: To Describe or Not To Describe
« Reply #22 on: December 17, 2015, 08:53:21 PM »
I think that's such a stylistic point, and it's hard to give blanket statements.  Authors vary significantly in how much description they give.

Does the amount feel right to you?

My vote would be to give it to more beta readers.  If a bunch say there is too much, and a bunch say there is not enough... well, you've probably got the exact right amount.  At the moment it sounds like you've got mixed reviews, and I'd say that's probably actually a good thing.  You can't be all things to all people.

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