Monday, January 25, 2010

Too Descriptive?

So recently, I had a nice chat with some of my daughter's friends. (I love her friends, they're like my own kids.) One of them was telling me of a book she read where the descriptions gave her nightmares and it got me to thinking of yet another conversation with my sister-in-law and fellow author.

Horror is a big descriptive genre as is most of romance. However, I guess I am old fashioned when I say that I'd like them to leave SOMETHING to the imagination. It's like why go for the full frontal nudity? Imagination is what triggers lots of the senses, stop taking all the fun out of it!

Yeah, not that I see a lot of full frontal nudity. But see, you get the picture don't you? You used your imagination. What did we learn?

So take this into serious consideration when you write. How much detail do you want to give away, how much work do you want to do for the reader? Or would you rather the reader actually use those brain functions and work for it themselves? Personally, I love the author who goes to the trouble to give me just enough so that I can paint the picture in my own mind. I've said it before and I will say it again: No one will ever see, feel or imagine the same exact thing as anyone else in the world ever. People are complicated creatures with different varying levels of thought processes and emotions. While you might actually get similar ideas, they'll never be exactly the same down to the smallest detail.

For example, have you and a group of friends or co-workers ever got together on a project where you all had "the same idea"? Once the project was finished, almost everyone had different levels of disappointment. Why? Because they all "Imagined it turning out differently". Don't believe me? Take notes next time.

We would be very arrogant in our thinking if we feel that everyone feels the same way as others in their lives. We can not possibly know or deal with situations exactly the same way, even if said situations were exact. People deal with stress and sadness differently. Love, fear and all those other emotions and factors induce reactions in different ways. The possibilities are infinite in the fact that it is practically impossible for two people to ever be on the same emotional/intelligent plateau at the same time. If that makes sense, you're doing all right.

This is also why some authors are so descriptive and others let you use that thing holding your ears apart. When authors do give descriptive images for you to see in your mind's eye, they tend to get monotonous. They have to be sure that everyone gets the same idea they are trying to project. It is difficult for a writer to even comprehend how people will interpret what they're reading; which makes writing all the more difficult. Then you have to follow a certain standard with your writing, make sure you've got the proper grammar and punctuation. You cannot write like you speak, even though it might help. People just don't speak as clearly as when they write.

So again, take a lot of this into consideration as you write. Try to find the happy medium for yourself of what you think is too little or too much description. If you are trying to make your readers have a bucket next to their bed to hold the vomit while they read your slasher, then job well done. But if you want them to sleep with the lights on, lock their doors and study people to find out who the killer is, well then you have your mission. Write on!

4 comments:

Celeste Airdancer said...

Yay, you mentioned me! :3 Haha. Great post!

Mistress of Fantasy said...

Hehe! I write from experiences around me. Plus I couldn't pass up the opportunity to gush about my "other kids". Right? :D

Cheri Chesley said...

Yes, exactly! You don't read a book where they describe the character as "Hugh Jackman without the fame." Then everyone would know what he looked like. There's no room for the imagination to work. How about the Harry Potter books? You get your own idea from your imagination, then the cover artist's opinion from the cover, then the actors from the movie--your description is all over the place. It leaves all worlds of room for the imagination to work.

Besides, I firmly maintain as a society we don't let our imaginations out to play near often enough.

Mistress of Fantasy said...

No we don't, so they get dusty and sit there on the couch getting fat and lazy. When you want to let them out to play, they just look at you like you're crazy!