This seemed timely, as the same problems are cropping up again and again. So I thought if I explained things through to everyone else, I might explain it through to myself at the same time.
I have read books for such a long time. And I read fast. Super fast. Never, once, in all that time, all those books, have I ever had a book play itself out in my head. Ever. I don’t get images from prose unless I’m really concentrating on it. Details matter little to me unless their wrong (funny that it works one way and not the other). When I read, I somehow skip the “seeing the book play out in my head” bit, and just absorb the characters and the plot. That’s it.
When I write, however, things are different. I see things play out in my head – but they are still very shaking images, very much things made up as I go along. And that is all I need to be in the head of the character – shaky images. You tell me I’m in a room, or a fort, and that is all I need to be drawn into the character’s stories.
Turns out this is quite uniques. One Beta who read “the Manda” put it as “You under-desribe as opposed to over describe. I can’t tell what’s happening.” Another Beta put it as “this feels like a first draft – I’m not being drawn into the story.”
Now. I logically understand their problem. But having never experianced it myself, I find it incredibly confusing as to how to know when it’s too much, and when it’s too little. I just don’t get confused when I read through my stuff, because I don’t need that sense or orientation of place that other people need. I just don’t.
So, how to deal with it. Well, the first thing I did was find the most descriptive books in my genre I could find, and read them. Multiple times. Then I listened to a bunch of podcast on descriptions. And I have finally come up with something that may help.
- Set the scene
- point your descriptions to what is important.
- Don’t leave out the outside bits (the bits outside the action). Describe them as succinctly as possible. Choose only certain details.
- Imbue your world into those descriptions
Will this work? No idea. But it can only be tried.