I.W.A.R. Month #1, What I’ve learned – How much description is too much?

I have completed a month of my segment called Interview with a Reader. My intention with the segment was not to be just informational but also educational for myself and other writers. Today, I wanted to talk about a reoccurring issue I’m seeing in my recent interviews. Description…How much is too much?

Almost every reader I interviewed stated description or over-description being one of their most least favorite part of a book. As writers, we want to bring readers into the world we build. We want them to see how we imagine it but are we being self-serving or under estimating our readers? Where to we draw the line in describing objects, landscapes, or people?

I think, if you are creating a whole new world like “Middle Earth”, a little more description may be necessary because your readers have never seen this world. However, we need to give our readers some credit when describe things that are every day items. They know what an old fashioned door knob looks like. They know what desert hills look like — it’s likely that if they haven’t see them in person, they have seen them in a movie–so describing them down to the blades of grass isn’t necessary.

Ultimately, we write for other people, not ourselves. It is our hope that many people read them. We need to leave something to their imagination. They need to be able visualize things the way they see them to get into the book. Too much description robs them of that experience. We should keep this in mind when we write and edit.

Just Keep writing!


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Filed under Author to Author, General Conversation, Interview with a Reader

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