In my personal writing blog, Write This Way, I recently posted a couple of sentences from Jan Karon’s book, Home to Holly Springs, as an example of some of the best description I’ve ever read. That made me ask myself, “What makes description excellent”? After some consideration, I came up with four elements necessary to make a description pop off the page.
1) Involves action
2) Uses vivid words
3) Paints a clear picture in the reader’s mind
4) Makes readers feel like they are in the scene
What it all boils down to is that an excellent description does more than just tell readers about something. It paints a vivid picture that draws the reader into the story so much that she feels like she’s in the scene with the characters, yet it does so without stopping the forward motion of the story.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll examine each of these elements of excellent description and use examples to compare stereotypical descriptions with ones that are vivid. In the meantime, take a look at some of the descriptions in your WIP. Are you just telling readers what someone or something looks like, or have you made your descriptions a part of the story? Feel free to share what you discover in a comment.