Part of a special month-long event featuring writing tips and NaNoWriMo strategies from guest writers and fellow NaNo participants.
Tips for Writing Descriptive Scenes
by Em Petrova
Painting a picture for the reader has never been so important. How many of you have picked up a book, hoping to immerse yourself in a new world, and been disappointed to find your imagination hasn’t launched off your sofa?
It might be the description in your story that’s lacking. As writers, we need to do everything we can to take our readers on a journey—and most of the time readers want to escape their own universe! So how can we help them do that? By adding some terrific description to our writing! Here’s how:
1. Use language that paints a picture. Adding colors and smearing them over the landscape of an ancient world will shoot the reader right into the setting. Help them to see the object, person, or world through your characters’ eyes!
2. How do the objects relate to each other in the scene? Details about each individual item might get tedious, but a comparison is rich with sensory responses. The carpet of grass is spongy underfoot, but Avery steps on a jagged stone—a stone that feels as big as a boulder under her sensitive arch.
3. Don’t let the reader know you’re being descriptive. A big information dump sometimes occurs in the beginnings of scenes. We learn about the setting in one fat paragraph—how it looks, smells, how everything sounds. What if you shatter this like a mirror and place the fragments throughout your story?
4. Don’t use too many adverbs or adjectives. Readers enjoy strong language—no wimpy writing allowed!
5. Don’t be too lyrical. Internal rhymes can get annoying, as does flowery language. Most modern readers don’t want to read Walt Whitman!
6. Don’t write lengthy descriptions of Aunt Mariam’s wallpaper unless later in the story, we’re going to see drops of blood spattered on said wallpaper. Watch out for irrelevant description.
7. Provide concrete examples. If your story is set in space, we need to see comparisons between those objects and the ones we know on earth. We have no idea what a mugala vaporgun is, but if you say it’s like holding a soldier’s heavy rifle, we can picture it better.
8. Describing every little detail can be tedious. And often the reader enjoys a romp with her own imagination. We don’t need to know every last detail of a hero. If you leave a few spaces blank, the reader will create her dream hero in her mind!
Hope some of these tips will help with your next story. Thanks for reading!
~hardworking heroes—in bed and out~
by Em Petrova:
Star-crossed lovers Magda and Monroe must overcome racial differences and fight off the evil Free Wills to save the city and their romance.