Descriptions are not just a way to transfer information and create bright images, but also a wonderful instrument to play with the dynamics of the text by changing the rate of development of the story. Undoubtedly, everyone who wants to become a pen wizard has to be well aware of how to manage the readers’ attention, alternatively straining and relaxing their attention.
I believe all descriptions can be conditionally divided into static and dynamic.
Such descriptive blocks significantly slow down the pace of the narrative. You can meet them in scenes with smooth and unhurried rhythm. They are photo-like and often presented in the form of a single paragraph without any active actions.
Delivering a massive descriptive paragraph, the writer usually has two purposes:
Well, detailed descriptions of the appearance, face, and manners of a person point to the fact that the author deliberately draws our attention to the character, and therefore, will use him in future.
Thus, please avoid thorough describing characters of the third plan which will be mentioned only briefly, and then disappear forever. Note that the reader trusts you his attention, so you have to dispose of it properly.
Dynamic descriptions are always associated with the rapid development of the plot. They are typical for motion scenes and scenes with dialogues.
Did you know that the pace of the scene is largely determined by the relation of the dialogue and narrative components? So please don’t run to extremes:
Dynamic parts composed of descriptions and sometimes empty dialogues are common in modern fiction. They are easy to write and perceive. Note that it’s not always convenient for the reader to put together a mosaic of scattered pieces of the description. Be sure to follow a description with actions rather than interrupt it.
Tips on Dealing with Descriptions
#1 Avoid too Much Look Alike Text Structures
Uniform shapes are the no.1 to avoid when building a large narrative blocks. Descriptions are not just chains of visual images! Not always the visual image provides a complete and correct view of the world. Be sure to work on sounds, sensations, and smells.
Also, be versatile. Even three sentences with similar structure evoke nostalgia, not to mention a huge paragraph that the reader will be unable to finish.
#2 Do not Overload Sentences with Too Much Sense and Too Many Facts
Your ultimate task is to make descriptions understandable and clearly conveying the atmosphere. That’s why I believe you should avoid too complex structures with a lot of figures of speech, tall talk, etc.
Did you know that the longest grammatically correct English sentence belongs to William Faulkner and is composed of 1,292 words?
#3 Repetition is Not Always a Mistake
I bet you’ve read some recommendations on avoiding repetitions and tautologies. It is believed that the one and the same word used in the neighboring sentences spoils the perception, so it should be carefully replaced with synonyms. In most cases, it is true. But sometimes the repetition serves as a powerful mean of expression that focuses the reader on a particular word or image.
#4 Get Rid of Wordiness
In the hands of a beginner, descriptions may turn into a swamp pulling the reader down. Working with descriptions, always try to get rid of superfluous words and clarifications. If the hero is scratching his head, do not write that he does it by his hand – that’s obvious.
Another variation of wordiness is long tedious descriptions of places, objects, and people that do not carry any meaning for the story. Why describe the corridor in details, holding the reader's attention for a long time, if the heroes will run through it for a few seconds and never return?
I am bringing to the fact that the writer must know exactly what he needs to describe. Paying a particular attention to this or that image, you focus the reader's attention and make it clear that the scene is really important. But when you scrupulously describe something, the reader gets overloaded and confuses between the important and unimportant.
#5 Use the Character’s Point of View
Working with descriptions, you should not break away from the other components of the text. The place of the description in the text and its scope should be consistent with the structure of the scene.
Usually, when we write the text in the third person, we unwittingly act as an independent narrator. In my opinion, in both first- and third-person narratives the author has the full moral right to build relations based on the opinion of the narrator. This allows you to turn the usual description into something completely new and unique. And, of course, reveal the image of the hero.
I believe the author should not be afraid to express personal views in descriptions, as well as add some colors and exaggerate. Pay attention to classics – is there a shadow of constraint in their work? Definitely, not.
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Hi, I'm Tim Ellis - I write a lot and I hope you enjoy what I write.