And here we enter the second half of the month. I don’t know about you, but this month has been nothing but rain and yuk where I am.
The “being forced inside by the weather” excuse is a great one for writers, though. It gives us more time to work on our projects and to complete writing tasks, such as daily writing prompts.
So, let’s put on our writers hats and get some work done, what do you say?
Today’s little lesson follows up from the one we had earlier this week about descriptions. Learning that certain things don’t matter is one thing. Learning to use description enough to interest your reader and to grab their attention is another.
As you know by now, I am not a fan of flowery writing and excessive descriptions. However, I am also not so naive to think it holds no place at all.
Extra description can paint a picture where one has yet to be established. The most common point, of course, is the start of the book. Page 1, chapter 1. This is where you insert the reader into your world. Unlike the rest of your story, you don’t have the luxury to draw things out over time.
If you think about it, your story takes place over the span of time, it has a beginning going back billions of years and extends past “The End” another billion years. the small aspect you are telling doesn’t just start from Year 0.
So, how do you get the reader up to speed with everything they need? You have to describe it. At this point, the first line, paragraph or even page, more description is warranted.
Let’s take a look at the prompt before I continue on.
Start a new scene as if it were the first one in your story. In the first paragraph introduce the main character and describe everything the reader needs to know about them to see them in their mind right from the start.
This exercise is a critical one. How much is “too much” and how much is needed?
You have to decide what is important. For example, clothing can be important if it is relevant to the story. As an example, in my novel Tremble that I am writing along with the students in the Extra Draft Writing Method Course, the bad guy wears a mask.
This mask is important to the entire story and it is the first thing we see entering the story and one of the last things we see as the book wraps up. As such, this importance dictates how many words I devote to the mask.
What isn’t important is what the bad guy is wearing other wise. I mention that sweat is dripping off the mask onto the collar of his shirt. In that, we know the bad guy is wearing a shirt. But, the rest is left up to the reader.
We can extrapolate form that to assume he is wearing pants and shoes and anything else the reader wants to add on their own.
By being selective with what you describe in the beginning, you can paint the picture you want while still giving the reader enough freedom to make it their own.
I describe the bad guy to let you know he is a large person, this man takes up some space. I describe the mask (and overly so) I describe the size and dimensions of the man but I leave the rest out.
Doing this means I can control what the reader sees. The mask is important so I wan them to know what it shoudl look like. The rest I leave up to the reader to picture for themselves.
Of course, as the story moves on I can add in more details here and there without reverting to over-describing. But in the beginning? It is important to set that tone.
So give it a try today. Start a new scene and decide what is important that the reader knows right from the jump. Decide what you can leave out without affecting the story. Find that balance between describing and describing too much.
If you need help, post what you came up with in the comment section and I’ll go over it with you.