Thursday, May 14, 2015

Down With Description

by Alan

What's easiest and hardest to write: action, description, dialogue, or something else?

For me, dialogue seems to be the easiest to write. I just picture two (or more) people talking, and the words just seem to flow. Which I guess makes sense, because in real life, I prefer to sit on the outskirts of a conversation and listen to what other people have to say.

What’s hardest for me to write?

Elmore Leonard famously said (or wrote):

Try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.

Good advice. I know that, as a reader, I tend to skip over descriptions. Give me pages and pages of dialogue or action, and I’ll happily, hungrily read every word. Give me anything more than a sentence or two of description, and my mind has a tendency to wander, along with my eyes.

Because I don’t like to read about description, I don’t like to write about description. (Plus, I stink at it.)

But I understand that you have to have some description. (I also understand that many readers love description, and many authors love writing description. More power to them. In all honesty, I wish I felt more comfortable writing description.)

Here’s a typical exchange between me and my internal editor about my WIP, Bubba Makes Friends:

Bubba walked up to the man and punched him in the face.

Editor: You need some description, for context. And for, you know, better writing.

Bubba walked past a tree, up to the man, and punched him in the face.

Editor: More, please.

Bubba walked past a big tree, up to the little man, and punched him in his stupid, weasely face.

Editor: <sigh>

The only thing I like less than writing description is writing about writing description.

So…The End.

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