Detailed description

by VioletRose

Question: How should the details in my description be?


Should I be writing like Charles Dickens (writing too many details) while writing or can I simplify the details (few details)?

Answer: It sounds like you already have an opinion re: Dickens. However, whether you write like Dickens or Hemingway is entirely your choice. I can't give you a number. Everyone has their own style.

Bear in mind that using specific details in scenes helps the reader become more emotionally engaged in the story. Often beginning writers tend to underwrite, so you do need to make sure you have enough detail to convey the full emotional impact of your events.

However, it's also true that a few telling details can as effective as many less telling details. Also, there are places, such as transitions, where a quick summary is all that's required.

The genre also makes a difference. Hard boiled detective stories tend to more sparse than women's fiction. Children's stories may be less detailed than adult fiction (because they are shorter). Character-driven fiction may provide more details of what's going on inside a character's head, while adventure stories may focus on the external details and action.

The real question is not "How many details should I provide?" but "Is this scene emotionally engaging in the way I intended?"

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