On Long Winded Descriptions

How do you guys feel about using  intricate descriptions in your writing? I know they’re useful, but there is such a thing as too much detail. I could write in detail about the way the light hits the ocean at sunrise for ages, but no one would want to read it. As a reader I’ve skipped over passages that are nothing more than a long winded discussion on the appearance of a forest because I wanted to get on with the plot.

When I write I always look for key details that the reader needs to know and (as painful as it can be sometimes) cut what’s unnecessary. Then I tweak what I left in so that my descriptions appear intricate, but remain sparse. I do this by swapping out what multiple descriptions for stronger adjectives that pop and take up less space. Now I can describe that ocean without rambling on for a page and a half while my protagonist is on pause.

I try to do the same with filler words or adjectives that aren’t doing much for the narrative. Instead of saying, “she stood before a grand building” why not replace two words with one. I could say, “she stood before a cathedral” or “she stood before a museum”. I think as writers we want to write. We want to create a intricate word garden with detailed settings and filler adjectives to spruce it up. Only we don’t need to go overboard and create a maze from extra words that are diverting readers from the plot. A humble garden is best by taking out the fluff and growing sentences with real roots. Ones that will stand the test of time without distracting viewers from the house (plot) beside it. I’m a wordy writer, but I like the way my work looks once it’s tidied up. As beautiful as long winded descriptions can be, there should always be more focus on character development and arcs.

What are your opinions on description? Is there a time and place for the long winded depiction?


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