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Writing Tip: Using Description



First, Happy National Coming Out Day (NCOD)! First started in 1988, with the date picked as the anniversary of the 1987 March on Washington, the simple theme is to come out - to those you love, those you know, as people's opinions of LGBT persons and rights is better if they know someone who is LGBT.


Now on to our tip, generously contributed by CassieQ, on Using Descriptions in writings. Enjoy!


Using Description




I like to use description to help set a mood in the story. I try to visualize the scene and what is going on in it and then match the description to the feel of the scene. Is it a happy scene, with light, airy description? Is it a scary scene, with ominous, dark description? Is it a sexy scene with hot steamy description?


For example, here is a scene I wrote for one of the anthology stories.


The sky above Toumas was a dull slate gray, with occasional swathes of clouds snatched away for early morning sunlight to bleed through.


and later in the same scene…


Satisfied that they would not break when he started to struggle, Toumas relaxed back, staring up at the diseased sky.


The feel I wanted for the scene was tension and dread. My character was making a decision to end his life in a very horrible way and I really wanted to create a mood that would match that. I was thinking of the sky and I wanted to describe it in a way that would provide good imagery without going over the top. So I simply described a very odd sky I had seen one morning while driving to work and used specific word choices, like bleed and diseased in the description to kind of help set that mood.


The only precaution is to be careful with how much description is used. The story that I used as an example was criticized for "overwriting" which I think was a result of too much over the top description tongue.png I would say use it in moderation, mainly when a description of a person/place/object is important to a story or when you are trying to set a certain mood for a scene.


All that is my opinion of course. Anyone want to add something or weigh in, feel free!

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Recommended Comments

Description can give writing a great deal of flavor. While it can be over-done, a skillful writer can use it like an artist uses a dry brush creating stunning images with a minimum of "paint".

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