· In this week's blog, Carin Siegfried, an independent editor in Charlotte, discusses the disadvantages of including too much description in your narrative. Take it away, Carin!
I have found that sometimes writers use too much description– it bogs down the narrative if it isn’t germane to the story. It is a fine balance as you don’t want too little description, to be sure. But you do want to leave some things to the readers’ imagination, as well as get on with the dialogue and action. Sometimes descriptions feel as if, since you did the research, you must include it. That theory serves the writer, not the reader. Only include necessary details, not every detail uncovered in your research. Research is good – you will have those details at hand when needed – but don’t let it overwhelm your story.
Another potential pitfall of over-describing everything and everyone is that your readers lose perspective. Readers get clues about who will be important, who will return to the narrative, and who will be a crucial person as opposed to an ancillary, fleeting, insignificant character, largely by the length, weight, and detail of the description of that character. When the author gives all characters a long, detailed, specific description, the reader no longer knows who will and will not be important. So now the reader has to remember everyone in case they come up again later. And that’s exhausting for the reader, as well as frustrating when those characters do not return.
Please come back next week when Carin shares nine reasons writers should get a literary agent.
Hear are the previous installments of this series:
These blog posts are from Carin's presentation to my Writing Fiction class at CPCC. I met Carin through the Charlotte chapter of the Women's National Book Association which she founded three years ago. You don't have to be a woman to join, all you need is to love books. I am a new member of the board and encourage any of you who live near Charlotte to check out our Facebook page for updates on this year's events. They are fun, informative, and help you connect with readers, writers, and members of the local book industry.
On September 15, Carin along with Betsy Thorpe, are giving a workshop entitled, "Finding the Right Path to Publication: Traditional Publishing vs. Self Publishing." You can find more information on their Facebook page.