Day: October 3, 2019

The Dos and Don’ts of Description

As writers, and as we get older in general, description is vital in what we write. Pay attention to detail, they always say. As we age, people expect our attention to specificities to get better and better.

Take this for example:

She had short, curly brown hair. Her eyes were blue. 

While it’s okay to be basic, this is a mistake on a few levels:

  • The details should be spread out amongst the course of the novel, not told immediately.
  • There’s no direct focus other than the character.

Also, what age does the narrator sound like?

(Please, comment your answer below)

When writing, take into account the age, intelligence, and personality of the narrator. Even if it’s in third-person, the narrator should mimic the personality of your focal character.

Now, take this description:

She bounced into her apartment, crystal irises buzzing with the energy surging through her brain. Her perky curls danced on her shoulders as she plopped in front of the blue glow of her computer screen. 

Now, I’m not saying this is ideal. In fact, this is flowery. A lot of metaphors. But I did try to put “her” appearance into action. I also didn’t use simple sentences.

So, in the end, make sure you put the details to action.

Types of dialogue incorporation

In my writing, I’ve found that there are many different ways to present dialogue. And sometimes, there’s a debate between whether it’s right or wrong.

Integrating with a tag

Now, this is where it all depends on how you are as a writer. Some people think that using intricate dialogue tags are the best way to format dialogue. Others say that said should be used more. Others say that it’s a mixture.

The beat

A beat after/before a piece of dialogue is not using a tag. Rather, the actions are flowed into the dialogue. It’s important to integrate a mixture of dialogue tags and beats in your dialogue format.

Other formats

  • The colon
    • Rarely used, I’ve seen this used briefly in Twilight (don’t hate me)
  • The em-dash
    • I’ve used this myself to place the quote in between an action.