» Posted on Jan 31, 2007 in Blog | 3 comments

How do you like your description? Light? A lot? I have to confess this is one of the hardest things for me. I don’t like to read a lot of description–just enough to get the jest of what I need. Too much to me slows the pacing and I had an editor who stressed how important pacing was to a story. I agree with her. I feel, like other aspects of a story, description is a balancing act. Too much may cause a reader to put the book down because the story is too slow. Too little may make the reader feel cheated of the rich texture she wants in a book. How do you feel about description and pacing?

I will admit, though, there are some books where the setting is more important to the story than others. In order to get a good feel of the setting you need description (more than I usually do). In Heart of the Amazon, the jungle is like a character in the book. I used more description in that story.

I know there are some readers who want to know exactly how a character looks to the author. I don’t. I want a little description, then the rest I want to leave to my imagination. How do you like a description of a character? Detailed? Nothing at all? Or somewhere in between?


  1. I’ve only recently become aware of how narrative affects pacing. Dialogue keeps things moving but description helps to paint the pictures. I think a good balance is required.

    There might be points in the story where a slower pace is better. The type of story may also make a difference. I recently read a suspense/thriller where the description was driving me batty and I found myself skimming to get to the end, where the killer would be revealed. On the otherhand, I like description in my romances and women’s fiction, where a bit slower pace makes sense.

  2. It’s hard for me to decide. One one hand, I like a rich, textured story. On the other, I’d rahter the story keep moving without stopping to describe a person from head to brand name shoe.

    Writing description is even harder. It’s work to weave in bits and pieces of description without slowing down the pace, especially in children’s fiction (my forte.)

  3. Thanks for your comments, Patricia and Donna. I agree, Donna, it is hard to weave description into the story without slowing down the pacing.


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