Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Creamy Filler Goodness

Why is it so many writers hate description? I was reading a dicsussion on a web board about descriptions of eye movements (for example: her eyes flashed with anger) and one person said that sort of writing was just filler and was not needed. The sentence should simply read: She glared or she stared.

I could not disagree more. I am tired of writers waving their arms around and shouting foul when another writer describes a character's hair and eyes or a sweeping description of a sunset. There is nothing wrong with including those things. The trick is to do it without relying on cliches or to have it featured too much in a manuscript. I used to begin ALOT OF SCENES with a description of the weather. I slowly realised that I was doing it too much and it was too much description so I ripped it all out and I now try very hard not to do it. It still okay in some circumstances. A description of a forest or a storm rolling in can help set the scene. The thing to remember is NOT TO DO IT FOR EVERY SCENE OPENING or every second or third opening.

As for descriptions of eye, or nose, or head movements, I see nothing wrong with it. These sorts of descriptions help bring a character to life. A tilt of the head, a raise of the eyebrow, a twitch of the lips, are all things that can make a character seem more real and emotional. Telling someone not to include those things at all is just bad advice. So many inexperienced writers think these are golden rules and that if they dare to disobey them the ground will fall out from under their feet. The thing I have learned with writing is to listen to all opinions, even ones that you do not agree with, and learn how to bend the rules to suit you.

For example, it is a pretty big rule in writing not to repeat word, but it CAN be done well if the writer does it with care. Ditto with using words like AND, THEY, SUDDENLY, etc...etc... All fine if used well. Learn which rules to follow and which ones to bend to your liking. If you like description...put in description. Just do it with care and avoid cliches like having your character stand in front of a mirror and think about how super pretty her raven black hair looks when she brushes it.

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