“Description in Novel-Writing– Too Much, Too Little?” / E. Rose Sabin

The following guest post is by novelist E. Rose Sabin, (Seduction of the Scepter, WiDo Publishing 2012), originally appearing on her blog at erosesabin.wordpress.com. It deals with a typical writerly issue: how much character description to include? The post is re-published here with Sabin’s permission.

Today’s blog raises a question I don’t have an answer for: How much description is too much, and how little description is too little?

When I write, I tend to be spare in regard to description. I think it’s largely due to the fact that when I read, I prefer to use my imagination to visualize a character’s appearance and dress. Also, I don’t like reading a story that pauses the action to give lengthy descriptions unless those descriptions are vital to the plot. In some stories the setting plays such a vital part that it must be described in detail. In all stories some sense of place is necessary, but the amount of description needed to provide that sense of place varies according to the type of story it is.

cover artIn my book Seduction of the Scepter, I set the novel in a fictitious country, but I located that country in our world in a specific historical time and in a specific region of the world: eastern Europe in the mid 1700s. Although using a fictitious country allowed me latitude to invent the political system and certain customs, those had to at least fit into the time period. Although I used no actual historical events or personages, I researched the styles of dress and hair, the popular foods, the music and dance, the religious and social customs of the era and drew on that research to make the story believable.

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“Dealing with ADHD as a Writer” / Lisa Kusel

(The following post originally appeared on Lisa’s website. We are reprinting it here in its entirety with her permission.)

Because I make my living as a writer, people might be surprised to know that I have a hard time reading. While the act of writing feels as natural to me as breathing, moving my eyes from word to word on a page sometimes feels akin to pulling a heavy cart uphill.

When I was twenty-five, I asked my eye doctor why, when I read, the white spaces between the words on a page sometimes pop out at me, and why, when I reach the end of a sentence, I often have trouble finding my way to the beginning of the next sentence. I also read slowly and—as demonstrated by my SAT and GRE scores—I suffered from poor reading comprehension.

He said I have a reading disability. “You mean, like dyslexia?” I asked. He shook his head and said there was no real term for my imperfect brain-to-eye connection, but if I wanted to focus better I should 1) move a black sheet of construction paper down the page, sentence by sentence; or 2) trace along the sentences with my finger or a pencil eraser.

fingerreading

I used those strategies to propel me through graduate school—a piece of black paper was always sticking out from the scholarly texts I lugged around Brown University’s campus. I also was quick to join study sessions, where I would glean from conversation all that I’d missed from my readings.

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“The Symbiotic Relationship between Editor and Author” / Tamara Hart Heiner

Authors and editors are different job titles, but they share the same role: to make something poignant, dramatic, and beautiful out of words.

The two go hand-in-hand. One cannot function without the other. Where would authors be without editors? And where would editors be without authors? The two are so closely related that many an editor has put his hand to pen (or keyboard, as it would be) and pumped out prose or poetry. And more than one author has hung out a shingle and declared herself an editor.

I would say that the very best editors are both, and here’s why.

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“The Art of Ending a Sequel”/ Amie McCracken

The ending to your story is just that, an ending – the finale, finish, fin, finis, kaput, over with, done, gone, ended. There is a finesse to ending a story correctly which includes things like tying up plot lines and giving the reader some satisfaction while also giving hope or despair for what will come. But it is simply not ok to leave an ending open.

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