details needed

“So many questions. Tsk, tsk.” Nathan steepled his fingers and held them to his face. “I’ll try to summarize.”

“Please, do more than summarize. I like details.” Heshbon moved out from behind her desk and, hooking her hand through his arm, walked with him over to a small sitting area. “Why don’t I bring us some coffee and you can fill me in on everything.”

WIP, working title: The Feeling of Being Broken

I wish I could, Hesh. I wish I could. But I have such a hard time writing details, description, anything besides dialogue, really. And even dialogue I’m not so great at.

I don’t think I have enough details in this story yet, not in terms of those descriptive details, anyway. I think I have more questions than Heshbon, just from one little unimportant blurb.

What does that sitting area look like?

If I stop to describe it, do I draw the reader out of the story too much?

If I don’t describe it, will the reader be able to fill in their own ideas?

Do I have the guts to post this (or anything) on twitter with a writing community hashtag?

I can answer the last one. No.

Ah well. I’m going to take a break for tonight, do mundane things like wash the dishes, take a shower, watch the BTS with Chris Martin thing … maybe go back to the separate Nathan piece I started yesterday. *g*

Wishing you all a peaceful evening, night, morning, day, rest of the week … peace.

8 Responses

  1. Mary has such amazing ideas here. I’m going to steal them too. *grin* I have a terrible time with description. I don’t notice things much visually as a person in general and it’s really hard for me to describe things without making things into an info dump. Tying description to what the characters are doing helps, for certain. I think with description, it’s like everything else. You want it there to forward the story. What is its purpose? Does describing the dark, dismal moors create a sense of foreboding that’s almost a character of the plot itself? Or are you describing a beautiful vase of flowers because you like to describe flowers? LOL! Finding that fine line isn’t always easy. But I agree. You do better than you think you do! *hugs*

    • viv s says:

      Im not much of a visual person either. I could meet someone three or four times and still not be able to tell you what they look like. But I’ll remember their name and sny other “data points” they’ve shared. Good ideas on when, where. And why to add description. Forwarding the plot/story via description is something I’ve never really thought about but probably have done naturally.

  2. The weave the descriptions in subtle and in small doses to accompany the dialogue and action approach tends to work best for me as a reader. I remember being turned off by all these ‘classics’ I had to read in high school because they’d start with a tiny bit of action and then devolve into some four page diatribe about what a moor looks like at night and then expect me to care about these two characters I haven’t even had time to hang out with yet. I get it. It’s a moor. It’s dark out there. Tell me what happens next!

    To be honest, reading this little snippet of your story, I definitely cared much less about what the sitting area looked like and a lot more about what the two angels were going to say next! Mary, loved some of your tips and I might steal some! *grin* Having the characters move around in a space in between dialogue sort of kills two birds with one stone. “Words here,” she said, turning around in the love seat to reposition a fluffy grey throw pillow behind her back. Stuff like that always helps. But honestly, for me, I mostly care about characters.

    PS: You’re way better at this than you think you are. I love that one room they bring Thayer to with all the different colored pillows on the floor. I can totally see that one in my head.

    • Maryn says:

      Agree, Vivian is good at adding details when needed :). I like your example, Deanna. I was thinking along those lines, or something like “She stared out the open window, searching the scudding clouds in the sky for some clue about the day’s weather. A stray breeze blew a lock of hair into her eyes, and she was thankful that brushing it away allowed him to conceal unexpected tears.”

      Sometimes a bit of description can help add atmosphere, or stimulate reactions that can add to the story. Certainly it’s possible to overdo description, though.

      • viv s says:

        Thank you, both! It’s a fine line, but maybe not so fine. A broad line, one that can cater to many different tastes, in between too much description and not enough. I shouldn’t stress over it. Except in cases where I realize I have floating talking heads. On the other hand, they’re angels. Of course they float. 😉

  3. Maryn says:

    I think you do details just fine when they are needed.

    However, if you want to, or think you may need to, add more details, perhaps imagine what the sitting area looks like, and write down a description of it. Is it an alcove with a window looking out onto a manicured lawn? A recessed area caused by other architectural choices like closet or bathroom placement in an adjoining area? Does it contain a pair of overstuffed armchairs, two molded stacking chairs with metal legs, a windowseat rather than actual chairs? If there is a window, is it open–do stray breezes ruffle the hair of two people talking in such a way that it contributes to the scene or enables them to show emotion or reactions to the other person? Is there a table where they can put down their coffee cups, or do they need to hold the cup or put it on the floor if they finish or want to put it down in order to cool off? Are there any colors to the walls or curtains that may evoke reactions in the characters? Any artwork or lighting that the characters may notice or respond to during the scene?

    Once you have decided what the area looks like and written down these details, you can pick and choose which (if any) of the descriptive details will make their way into the scene. No, I wouldn’t advise dumping the block of description into the scene that you’re writing just like that, as it would stop the action (I probably do stuff like that all the time, please don’t do it or not do it based on what I do!).

    But I think sometimes having the space pictured in your mind can give you opportunities to show how the characters may use their surroundings to reflect their thoughts and moods about information that moves the story along.

    Or maybe not, but that’s the way I see it.

    • viv s says:

      Wow, thank you, Mary! I wasn’t actually expecting any answers, but I certainly appreciate it!!

      These are such great tips! Good questions to think about in any scene, really.

      I have a hard time visualizing stuff in my head so I usually have to find pictures online that match close to what I’m thinking and then use that to help keep what little description I do have consistent. Otherwise my wingback chair might turn into a recliner and might switch from brown to olive. lol!

      • Maryn says:

        Hey, you can always find your picture, take a screenshot, add it to a document and write the description. Then you can name the pieces (and even change bits); pick the colors, choose the lighting, etc. And it’s there if you decide to come back to the same room. I do this sometimes, even/ especially if the pics I can find aren’t exactly what’s in my mind. If it’s an important location that reappears in the story, I like to have a pretty clear idea of what it looks like. I’m probably too visual, LOL.

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