Yup. I'm finally writing about descriptions. I've written about this before but the little sucker keeps rearing its ugly head. By that, I mean the controversy continues. How much description do I write? How much do I leave to my readers imagination? Am I lazy if I don't write long descriptive passages? Am I boring my reader with long descriptive passages?
I'll not go into who is on what side. Suffice it to say - I got kicked in the butt by a critiquer awhile back and she really caused me to consider. She said that as she read the offered chapter that she started to think about other books that were similar but with more description because I had NOT given it to her. She didn't try to imagine the scene or what the character looked like, she thought about similar books - like Harry Potter. I sat with my mouth open in consternation.
If this is not the answer to the description problem, I don't know what is. If my readers are thinking about other books while they're reading mine - what are the chances that they'll put my book down and read the other books instead! Mind-boggling, don't you think?
This issue came up today because I was reading an adventure book. At one point, a couple was on the beach starting to become better acquainted (small cough) and the next thing I know, they're on a boat. There was nothing mentioned about a boat prior to this scene. There was no mention of how they found the boat, or why they decided to go boating in the midst of (small cough). I was disconcerted.
Second part to this issue - my friend D has this splendid mid-point chapter that she wrote without much description. As she read the draft, I wanted to know more. There was a glorious opportunity for showing what the place looked like to a character and his reaction to it. There was a wondrous opportunity to grow the characters relationship with another due to where they were. It seemed a missed chance to open up secrets. She agreed. The more she's writing this chapter, the more excited she's become. She saw the need for description. Not paragraph after paragraph, but enough to titillate her readers.
This is the fun part of writing. Discovering what needs to be said, either by description or by dialogue. It's a fine line. I think trusting the gut is the way to go, trusting other writer friends with their input, but in the end, trusting yourself. In the editing portion, read out loud and see if questions jump out at you. Why did the character go with this seeming madman? Why did he climb the stairs in the old, apparently abandoned lighthouse? So much fun.
I hope this helps you. It does me. I'm in the midst of an expository paragraph in 'The Other Side' and it's driving me mad. I thought I needed to tell all, but I realize now, nope, don't have to. It doesn't progress the story and my readers really won't care. It's that kind of a scene. Better to dwell on the horror of the moment. Ah such fun.
Life is fun.