Friday, January 30, 2009

How Much Description is Enough?

“My teacher said to assume every reader is blind, so you need to use description when you write.” -- AVR in The Writer Today blog
What a great thought. AVR and I follow each other’s blog, and this post helps clarify something I struggle with -- how much description to use in my short stories. If I wrote novels, this wouldn’t be as much of an issue. Since I write stories of less than 1000 words, I have to think about the setting and how much I need to tell the reader. Too much slows the pace and not enough leaves the reader unsure of the surroundings. Most of the time, I provide one or two facts and let the reader fill in the rest. Thinking of the reader as blind might help clarify for me how much description is enough and which descriptors are the most important. Thanks, AVR.


Rebecca Nazar said...

I feel description is important as long as the author doesn't go Melville:-)

Loren Christie said...

Hi Jim,
This is a great quote, and one should also keep in mind that the description should add to the quality of the plot. What I mean is that description should have a purpose in the story.

Jim Harrington said...

Good point, Loren. I believe this is especially true of short fiction, where every word has to count.

AVR said...

I am glad this helped you. Thank you for using it.