There is a point of too much description.

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There is a point of too much description.

I've been told my stories are good, but they lack detail and deacription. I understand what is trying to be said, but I also believe there is a point when describing too much in a story can overload the senses of the reader. Thus they lose interest.

I know the first time I tried to read Starship Troopers and War of the Worlds, the descriptions outweighed any real story. So, I found it impossible to get into those books. I think every book or story should leave a little to the reader's imagination. They have to use that imagination to see what is not being written for them, thus, it pulls them in more.

What does everyone else think?


Starship Troopers for me is a fantastic sceience fiction story as is War of the Worlds so I may be biased. And at the same time War is decades and decades old, thus in a different style. A sci-fi is not the kind of work where description should lack. Not at all. A thriller, maybe, a drama sure. but pure genre works like noir, western, scifi depend on strong imagery, dialogue, and character equally. There's a difference between overabundance of description (look at stephen king's works) and a dearth of description.

Give me the beat boys and free my soul! I wanna getta lost in ya rock n' roll and drift away. Drift away...

I notice that you and I have never agreed on anything. Wish that were different. All I want are good friends and those who feel equal when it comes to writing. No one is better than anyone else, but I know that's not true. We all have varied degrees of knowledge based upon experience. Some writers still feel they are better than others no matter what. If I accept help from others it will be from writers who don't think they know it all. God knows I want to get along with everyone and see each other help one another without ego getting in the way. Peace, Bryan
Hi Bryan I guess I agree with you in a way...but you have to understand that people have many different viewpoints on things. And a story that just states the events is just as boring to read as a story overloaded with description. In regard to your stories, I feel I am in no place to judge them. But maybe a little more description? Natalia

Natalia :)

I've given you a few very positive reviews. I just think your works need more description, Bryan. I never claim to know more so please don't put words in my mouth. You bring up ego and dissagreement, stop trying to insight an arguement. We are writers, Bryan, we know when pieces are overblown or underwritten in terms of imagery. There's two extremes. You talk about experience, and I agree. My stories used to be very bare boned and bland in terms of description, and I had to learn from other writers telling me my faults in my style. Using it I was able to greatly improve my works.

Give me the beat boys and free my soul! I wanna getta lost in ya rock n' roll and drift away. Drift away...

I'm not trying to start an argument at all. It might help if you said more than just, add more description. Explain how you would make it more descriptive, or where it needs more. I work just as hard as any of you on my stories. So, it really matters alot when it comes to getting them just right, and the right help.
Okay, use better description, stop with the he did this...she did that...then this You can't just relay a story, you have to invest the reader into it. I suggest you read other writer's works to get an idea. Bring style to the piece and an original voice, I find all your characters sound the same, even the women, in my head. I feel you just haven't found yours yet. Don't be afraid to produce violence if it furthers a work or put more detail into a character beyond (general eaxample) he had black hair and a tatoo, etc. One must find ways of describing and crafting their characters into a story without flat out telling the audience. (here's a cheap ex: beads of sweat rolled down his tanned arm and past the mom tattoo slopilly inked upon his skin. BETTER THAN; he was sweaty and had a tatoo on his arm that read "mom") I'm still a very young writer, so I know I'm not as great a possible source.

Give me the beat boys and free my soul! I wanna getta lost in ya rock n' roll and drift away. Drift away...

Any help is better than none, my friend. I know what you're saying. Sometimes, I seem to understand the process, and than other times not. Basically, just write it as it would happen.
That's good sir. It's always best to write in the style that you want, but there's always errors you never see. That's why I love the writers on this site who go more in depth. Sooz006 in particular has been of great help to me lately

Give me the beat boys and free my soul! I wanna getta lost in ya rock n' roll and drift away. Drift away...

I'm willing to accept help. For I want to grow as a writer, just as you once did.
How important a role does Place play within your story? If Place is important then description is important. Often a place can be like another character in a story. For example the Marabar caves in E.M. Forsters "A Passage To India" or the moorland in "Wuthering Heights" or "Hound of The Baskervilles" or Miss Havisham's decaying wedding banquet in "Great Expectations" or Dracula's Castle or Robinson Crusoes Island or fantasy worlds like Narnia and Wonderland.
I'm aware that I've commented on two occasions that your writing would benefit from greater description, so I feel a certain obligation to offer a few words. Okay, here's the gold rule: there is no 'perfect amount' of description. Like so many things in writing, it's all subjective based on the tastes of the author and reader. However, that being said, there still must be some level of description actually present, and that's where I've found a lot of your work falls down. It's not that your descriptions are fairly spartan, but that you describe very little at all. Creative writing is not the same as reporting. A report conveys a series of facts combined with analysis. Creative writing obviously has elements of reporting: the bare bones of any story is a series of facts (i.e. events and characters) which are analysed in a certain way. But a story should do more than that. A story is not a report, but a sort of window: it allows us to see into the world that and characters you've created. And a writer achieves that through descriptions. The devil, so to speak, is in the detail. If you simply write, 'he shot the demon', then you have reported a fact of your story. If you write, 'his bullet entered between the demon's eyes, and exited in an explosion of grey matter and gore', they you have given us a glimpse into the story. You make us feel like we are there right alongside your characters. Obviously, you don't need to give the readers a blow-by-blow account of what happens. Some scenes will necessitate very little, or very sparse description, others will require a more... sumptuous approach. If you're looking for a formula, as yourself two questions: 1) What do I want to achieve in this scene? 2) What do I have to describe to achieve that? If you want to scare the reader in a scene, describe the nervousness and thoughts of your characters, the terrifying details, the paranoia, the rising tension in the events taking place. If you want to excite them, then give them the graphic details of combat (don't shackle yourself to some phantom oblgiation to play it PG-13). Description is the flesh of your story: it makes it come alive and makes the reader feel like it's more than just a story. It helps them visualise your events and engages them on a deeper level of visceral emotions. The level of detail is flexible depending upon your objective, but the existence of detail is a necessity. Hope that helped, Bryan. If you're looking for some examples, a few comments about my submissions to this site have told me where I have good levels of detail, and bad levels of detail. That's totally not meant to be a shameless plug! Best wishes!
So far, your description is the best I've been given thus far. Thanks. I'll try to add more description to one of my stories soon.
Great post Coetsely.

I struggle with this too.  I am never certain just how much description to add.  I carry a fear that the reader will become bored if I tarry too long and at the same time, I worry about not having dwelt long enough.

For an example, take imagery.  Thomas Hardy has me spell-bound when he describes the Wessex countryside.  Yet when I try, even I get bored.  I guess it is down to style and that has a lot to do with the natuaral development of a writer's style, which of course can and does change with time.