Why does it matter?
C’mon, let’s be honest here. How often do you skip over description? You’re reading along, you see it coming… a huge block of boring text. You skim it or jump to the next interesting looking part.
But there are reasons you should want readers to notice your description.
- build your setting and your world
- add to the aesthetics of your story
- add to your character development (yes, you read that right)
Here’s the beautiful thing about it – description can do all that at once. Here’s how:
What Great Description Isn’t
Well-crafted description isn’t long. It isn’t cliché. Because it isn’t long or cliché, it isn’t boring. Even if you’ve written the most incredible paragraph of all time, if it drags on for a page, your readers aren’t going to take the time to plow through it.
Keep it short. Keep it simple. And be original.
Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box when describing your world. It’s your world, isn’t it? Describe it in a way that’s unique to you. Your readers will lap it up.
What Great Description Is
Here’s the real secret. Are you paying attention?
The best description is told from a character’s perspective.
This can be done no matter what point of view you’re writing from. Even in third person, you should still be focusing from the perspective of one character and writing with some of their voice.
When your character walks into a room, what do they see? More importantly, how do they see things?
Two characters could see the same vase. One might think of how perfect it would be for flowers. Another would think of how great it would be to store their stamp collection.
You’re describing the same vase, but you’re also giving a hint into character. Your readers aren’t bored, because they are interested in your characters’ habits and thoughts. They’re reading what you want them to read, they’re seeing your world, and they’re interested in it.
Any Wheel of Time fans? Robert Jordan was a master at this. The way an Aiel would describe a river is very different from the way a “wetlander” would describe the same river.
Description can make or break your story. What are some tricks that you use to work it in? What are some examples of character-based description you can think of?