The Power of Descriptive Writing

I was having some trouble getting into a book I was reading the other day, and I couldn’t figure out why. The story was interesting. The characters were good, although there were a few too many introduced too quickly. I just couldn’t get into it, so I put it down and went on to something else.

The second book was much better. It also enabled me to figure out what the other book was missing – effective description.

I need a visual on whatever I’m reading. I need enough input from the author to generate a mental image. The first author started out alright, but by chapter 2, he seemed to lose the willingness to offer up the details. I lost interest.

If the characters are in a room, I need to know what the room looks like. I don’t mean every little stitch on every throw pillow. I’ve heard George R.R. Martin writes 3-page descriptions of meals. That might be an exaggeration; I haven’t read his work. I don’t need that level, but I need enough to almost feel like I’m there.

Describing places and objects effectively requires patience. The temptation to rush on through to get to the action or juicy conversation can be significant. Trust me, I know. But skimping on description can deprive a reader of part of the experience the story has to offer.

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