• Kelly J Massey

The Beauty is in the Details (or lack thereof)


An important part in our craft of science fiction, science fantasy, and fantasy genres is world building. We are quite obviously writing in either a different time, place, or a different time and place; and we need our readers to understand how they live and why they react in the world they live in.

The trap we often fall into, however, is the fateful purple prose. Now, a lot of writers and editors discuss this information dump in the first few pages of the novel, but really purple prose can appear anywhere in your novel.

What you need to remember is that you aren't describing a movie scene, you're writing a book. Deliver the information slowly and scattered throughout. If you can naturally make it a part of your dialogue stick it in there. At least there will be a dynamic give and take between your characters. You want your readers to use their own imagination. After all, isn't that why we all read? If you do an information dump you risk making your reader feel stupid, or the reading slows down so much that they disengage and are able to put the book down. Don't let them put the book down!

So, what do readers want to know? What colors things are, what the fabric or building is made of. If your characters are moving through the landscape, you'll want to tell what kind of landscape it is or what the air smells like, what it feels like to trek across, who they meet along the way. Only mention the daffodils lilting in the breeze if it's important to your characters. It's all in the important details. Paint a picture, but make it brief. If the details are not important to your story as a whole, cut them out. If you can't part with them entirely, paste them in another document. There might be a future work where you can use those pretty picture lines again.

Use the details, but use them sparingly to keep your action going.

#details #descriptive #rewrites #writing

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