Getting the balance between description and action in your story can be a juggling act.

Too Much Description

Readers need some description, to be able to truly engage with the characters and their actions, but if there is too much flowery prose, readers can lose interest in the plot. Action can become stilted as the flow of the story slows down.

Too Little

If, on the other hand, if you don’t have enough description, readers’ ‘view’ may be limited and they may find it difficult to engage with the story. They may even be asking themselves where the action is taking place – are there people around, or not? Which room in the house are we supposed to be in? Is it summer or winter?

You definitely want your readers to see your scenes so clearly that they are right there with you, in the thick of it all.

view through the window

So how much is too much, and how do we get the balance right?

Writing is art, not science, so there is no exact formula, but here are some pointers:

1. Remember that your readers have imaginations. You don’t have to describe everything. 🙂
2. Describe with emotions as well physical description, so you are adding atmosphere (Two for one – it’s a bargain!).
3. Make your description work along with the action, keeping in mind the pace of your story. If your characters are running from a foe, a simple description of the surroundings is all we need. When they have found shelter in a cave, it would be nice to know what the cave looks like, as there is time for your characters to look round.

Janet WilsonTrust that helps! Enjoy your writing – you can do it, but remember, there’s always something new to learn . . .


P.S. Last call to join this month’s Membership Programme, which you can trial FREE. This month we are looking at Imagination. More information here.

Descriptions: the Balancing Act
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