Too much information…

Description… too much, too little… it’s so hard to find the line. Some writers give you nothing to imagine. They like their action tight and fast and they don’t want it weighed down by extra words. The idea, I guess, is that too much description is insulting to the reader, it’s like saying they don’t have the ability to imagine things for themselves.

I’m a wordy writer. I love to be able to touch, feel and smell everything in a room. I listened to the ‘minimalist’ writers for a while and cut a lot of my description out of my writing. You can imagine my pleasure when my publisher asked me to put it all back in! She even wanted more!

So I let myself loose and worked my manuscript over. All said and done… I probably added about 5000 words. (I added extra scenes and some deeper character development as well). I’m still a young writer… I know I have quite a bit to learn before I find the perfect balance, but my publisher loved it and for now, that’s good enough for me.

On that note, I received some funny feedback today. A reader working through my book has told my publisher in no uncertain terms that my book has waaaay too much description. As a matter of fact, she believes it’s almost as bad as Lord of the Rings.

humph… well…

I’ll have to work on that.



About cjgosling

I paint, I sing, I walk in the rain. I'm clumsy and I love the smell of campfire. My head is full of imaginary things and the only thing I ever really want to do in life is write. My first book "Shadowlands: The Guardian" was released in Feb. 2011. The sequel is coming in 2012! View all posts by cjgosling

5 responses to “Too much information…

  • Jordan

    HAHA Delightful and delightfilled! I think every author has their own voice and can hit their own market. I believe that isn't solely the amount of description but the nature of it. ie What is being described. In Jules Verne's classic 20000 Leagues Under The Sea there are full on pages of descriptions of new species of fish that the protaganist was discovering while looking out the windows. This to me is information that I could have lived without 😉 haha and as I read I really did skim those sections with very little interaction or involvement. I'd like to think that writers have learned to polish and trim the fat a bit since then. But.. (and it's a big but!) detail can indeen also immerse someone deeper and surround them in the story. All in all it is true that you are still learning your voice and honing your craft. However that honing should, I think, be lead by your love, your passion, and your fun. If that entails a gregarious portion of delightful description then I'm all for it sister! 😀

  • Jordan

    Have you read Wind in the Willows? His prose and description is so often well "beyond" a child's level but it is SOOOOO wonderful and such an awesome book. It is deservingly a classic. Read the chapter called "Piper at the Gates of Dawn". It always takes me to that warm fuzzy place of awe…

  • Rusty B.

    looked at the Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan. It seems the way he strikes a balance is by not describing a scene. Instead, it seemed like he was pretending a search light shot out of the character's eyes. Whatever the searchlight hit, got in-depth description. It gives you a feeling of being with the character, exploring a labyrinth. In the book I am writing, I am guilty of being low on description. But there are a few scenes I describe in great detail. So it acts like a magnifying glass. The choice scene really slams people and impacts their emotions by the setting itself. The trouble sometimes with too much description is that the reader becomes immune after a while. In an effort to give a reader a definite taste in their mouth by being descriptive, sometimes then the description gets relegated to the background like the background of the play. When you first walk into the play, you notice the set. But after a while, all you really notice is the character dialog.Different people react differently to detail. The key (in my limited experience) seems to be to allow them a way to skip over the detail if they desire and still understand the book. That keeps those people happy. In the case of my book. The plot is extremely detailed. So, in my case, I was nailed to the wall by some readers to put in some redundancy so they didn't have to remember so much. The people who love detailed plots ignore the redundancy. But the other readers who are overloaded keep reading now.In the end, you have to decide who your readers will be, your slice, and focus on what they want and only tacitly respond to the rest.

  • Susan Jean

    I like character description with enough details to draw my own conclusions. 🙂 Love Mom

  • CJ Gosling

    Some great thoughts! I'm working on the rough draft of my next book now, and I have noticed that I can easily overstate a description or emotion. Often when I go back and slice out the narration/exposition I find it only makes the story better.(Thanks mom):)I think I need to keep my metaphors down as well…But I really like the spotlight idea. Just focusing on those things that matter to the view point character sounds as if it will really tighten a scene. And tell us more about the character as well! I'm going to try it and see how it feels.And yes. I have read wind in the willows. The piper chapter is beautiful… it feels like a lullaby. 🙂

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