I love dialogue between characters. For this author, dialogue is the most fun part of writing. This is the way I, and most other authors, advance a book’s storyline. That said, no interesting book is written without description. Yet description can become too much of a good thing. I’ve read some books that lost my interest because scene description went on for pages. Description needs to be just enough to give the reader a mental painting without giving them a paint by number project.
The one thing I keep in the forefront when describing scenes is: Readers are intelligent. They make mental leaps with enough information. I give concise information but work to avoid giving every detail. Too much information puts mental brakes to a story’s progress and, as a result, loses the reader’s interest.
When I describe a scene, I am literally looking at what my character is seeing. My first draft novel describes everything down to the minutest of details. I am assured of catching anything that is worth keeping in the final book. When I edit the manuscript, I look at the scene through my readers’ eyes. I cut anything that seems redundant or that offers too much explanation. When necessary, I advance the scene and make it more interesting by using dialogue.
As an example, here’s a scene from Ingress
Early Draft: Kat turned to look at her reflection in the glass of Cassie’s. What she saw, she didn’t like. She had chopped her unruly raven-red hair of in a hurry a week ago. It had been in her eyes and falling in her face. Now she looked like her hair had been through a bad blender experience. It stuck up and out where it shouldn’t. Her inevitable cowlick stuck up at the crown of her head, somewhat tamed by the generous gel she used to plaster it down before she left the house this morning. She ran her hands down both sides and the natural wave, now natural spikes, popped back up immediately after. She walked into the salon and made an appointment for the next day.
Final: Kat caught her reflection in the salon window. She had chopped her unruly hair off in a hurry a week ago. It looked like it had been through a bad blender experience. Her always-present cowlick stuck up at the crown of her head, somewhat tamed by the generous gel she had used to plaster it down this morning. She ran her hands down sides and the natural wave, now natural spikes, popped back into position.
“Why the hell do I care?” she asked herself.
“Because I want him to know what he’s missing.” she answered.
“Vanity thy name is Kat Tovslosky.”She walked into the salon and made an appointment.
Scene description is that hard and that simple.
Until next time,