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Rated: 13+ · Message Forum · Writing.Com · #100931
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Sep 10, 2019 at 9:38pm
Re: Q. Creative Writing
I imagine you'll hear different answers from different writers of different types of fiction. What is standard in genre fiction, for example, may be mocked in literary fiction.

This stuff is what I've come to believe from my time playing with words. Take it with a grain of salt.

Some more classic works and authors might beg to differ, but describing lots of things in great detail or taking time away from plot to explore some random thing won't really fly in a modern work. If it's absolutely essential that readers know what a thing looks like, or if it's very plot relevant and you want readers to remember it for when you inevitably bring it up again, go nuts! If it's something your characters have been waiting forever to find, or a setting so fantastical it deserves a bit more loving care, a bit more description is more than warranted.

In most cases, though, a cursory description is okay. In short stories, especially, going on tangents and describing things that don't prove relevant to the story can put readers off, in my experience.

As an author, you certainly want to bring readers into your story. What brings readers into a story isn't necessarily description—it's emotional attachment and/or desire to take a journey or discover the answer to a question the story poses. If your character is grieving the loss of her grandmother and the subsequent loss by theft of everything her grandmother gave her, finding an antique doily her grandma handmade might be a great time to describe the age-yellowed lace and that one corner where she spilled her cocoa when she was sixteen and grandma was talking her through Boy Stuff woes. The description is a reward for the readers: after they've felt the pain of your protagonist's double-whammy loss, the description of that doily could be very satisfying.

If it's just a doily, though? You probably won't even mention it exists unless you're trying to establish something about your character. If a character is a frivolous fella with a hair-trigger temper, a writer might mention the hole in the wall next to the bathroom door and the places where the hinges were clearly torn from the wall. If your character is alone with this fella and has to tell him something that might not make him happy, those descriptions can do double or even triple duty: They tell us about him as a character, but they also create tension.

Especially in a short story—and unless a setting and/or particular aspects of it are extremely important to the progression of the plot or development of a character, somehow—I think it's best to choose a few evocative details to paint the scene in broad brushstrokes and trust your reader to fill in the rest. They usually will.

Other relevant bits can be provided as needed.

- -

"Let me live, love and say it well
in good sentences."
- Sylvia Plath

*MushroomB* *Books3**Books5* "► Newer Creative Works ◄ *Books5**Books2* *MushroomB*
Q. Creative Writing · 09-10-19 8:48pm
by Rbt618
*Star* Re: Q. Creative Writing · 09-10-19 9:38pm
by § Roseille ♥
Re: Re: Q. Creative Writing · 09-10-19 9:50pm
by Rbt618
Re: Re: Q. Creative Writing · 09-11-19 3:42am
by tpaulter
Re: Re: Re: Q. Creative Writing · 09-11-19 10:38am
by KenF
Re: Re: Re: Re: Q. Creative Writing · 09-12-19 11:24pm
by Rbt618

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