I follow a few blogs, mostly those written by other authors whose opinions I trust. One of the finest I’ve come across lately is written by Sarah A. Hoyt (http://accordingtohoyt.com/author/accordingtohoyt/). She hits the proverbial nail square on its little head when it comes to the nitty-gritty of writing. In her most recent post, she discussed the recurring problem of character description. I’ve seen several blog posts dealing with the same issue recently, and I’ve even written on this in a few of my own posts. But Sarah does have a way with words, and as I mentioned earlier, she’s spot on. Essentially, her message is ‘Don’t overdo it’.
Here’s my take on this subject: Give the reader just enough information to enable him (or her) to build an image of who that person is, what he is feeling and where he is at that time. Just enough information to get your message across. It is very easy to over-describe; to bog the reader down in paragraphs or even pages of who, what, when where and why. A picture really is much more valuable to a writer than a thousand words can ever be. So give the reader a snapshot and get on with writing what really matters to the reader – what’s happening right then, who’s involved and where they are.
Setting up a scene, dressing your characters, explaining relationships and so on is guaranteed to slow down the pace of your tale and bore your readers to tears. So don’t do that. “Show, don’t tell” is an axiom we should do well to burn into our little brains. Descriptive writing can be problematic in many ways, so it’s best to keep it to a minimum.
Besides, the reader is at least as involved in writing your story (in his/her head) as you are, so let him carry some of the load for you. That gets him involved, and makes him feel some ownership of the tale you’re spinning.
People want to read about people. While the plot is central to the story, use it as a vehicle to show how your characters behave in the situations you dump them into. Show the reader how your characters change and adapt to their environment. How they grow over the course of the story.
I’ve got a few events coming up in the next month or so:
15 – 16 October – Orange Park Winter Festival, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, corner of Kingsley Rd. and Park Ave. Orange Park, Fl
22 October – Calvary United Methodist Church Harvest Festival, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm, 112 Blanding Blvd, Orange Park, Fl.
5 November – Middleburg Historic Festival, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, 2102 Palmetto St, Middleburg, Fl
14 November, 10:00 am – WOCA-AM Radio interview to promote “Twisted Key”
19 November, Book signings at both “A Novel Idea” bookstores in Ocala, Fl:
Silver Springs Store – 12:00 – 2:00 pm
College Ave store – 4:00 – 6:00 pm
There area few other events coming up, but I don’t have dates for them, yet.
My web site – www.garyshowalter.com will be undergoing a face-lift over the next few months. It really needs it…