E.L. Doctorow

“Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader.  Not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.”

This is so important as a writer.  I believe that description is the hardest part of writing a book, but it is the most important part.  As a writer, it is our job to bring the reader to that place within the book.  If it’s cold, then we need to make the reader shiver.  If it is suspenseful, then we need to make the reader nervous.  It took me forever to realize how much description within a book was needed.  I was always worried that I wrote too much, or too little, or nothing at all.  And after figuring that out, then I needed to find the perfect spot to put the descriptions.  I used to describe all of the characters right at the beginning, but then that took away from the story.  Then I would fully describe a character once they were introduced, but that took too much time.  I finally realized that you only describe something when necessary.  For example, I would squeeze in a character description when they spoke – “I need this,” she ordered with her deep voice, pointing a skinny and bony finger at me.  Or only describe a place that is important to the story line and to the character’s emotions – the shadows from the candle light looked like monsters on the dark stone walls, which sent a flash of fear through the girl’s tiny body.  The point of a description is to make the reader see and feel what the characters’ see and feel, but you also need to make sure you don’t bore the reader with a description.  This is a fine line that is really difficult to master.  The only way to understand if your descriptions work is to let someone else read it and tell you what they think.  Share your work, and then keep working.


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