Thursday, February 28, 2013

Discussion Time: Clear Picture vs. Impression

I am in the throes of writing the second book of my new Elements Trilogy - Unseen, plus editing the first book - Unknown.

As I work my way through the text, I have been thinking about descriptions. Because this is a fantasy series, I am having to spend more time describing things than I would in a contemporary novel.

I have never been one for much description. I always prefer to get an impression of what's going on and draw my own picture in my head. I don't need to know characters' hair or eye colour, I'd rather know about the way these characters wear their hair or the habitual expressions on their faces. That will tell me more about them than the specific details.

Same goes with the environments. I like a vague picture, something that gives away the mood of the scene. Is it a dark, spooky alley or a wide open field. Is there sunlight or is the space filled with shadows. Things like that. I don't need to know the shape of a house or how many bay windows it has.

But that's just me, everybody's different.

There is an art form to painting a good picture that's not overloaded with details, but also gives enough description to place the reader in the scene. I still have a long way to go in mastering this skill, but for now, I err on the side of less is more.

What's your opinion?

As a reader, what do you prefer?
As a writer, how much description do you think is necessary?


  1. I'm with you. When I write, It's my goal to put as much information in a single word as possible.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Melanie. Yes - finding that perfect word is a challenge, but so worth.