Sascha – 2009-10-09 2:32 AM
rjcload – 2009-10-09 12:25 AM
Stephen King addresses the issue of being over descriptive in his book On Writing. The color of the table cloth may or may not be important. For me, the real issue is does the author have to tell me everything thereby squelching my own imagination? How about just telling me the basics and letting me fill in the minute details. Allowing me to furnish the kitchen with my own imagination would draw me in much further and the same goes for character description.
That’s right, of course. If the furniture is somewhat important to the story, by all means, tell me. But I have read too many novels where the author is giving me a full page of description of the entire place a scene is playing in, obviously serving no other purpose than filling a page. Other than having a weak plot to begin with (I don’t think anything can beat the annoyance of a story that never should have been written), over-description is the single biggest thing that can annoy me as a reader. It keeps the story from moving on and is killing my imagination.
As a youngster, I read virtually the entire Hardy Boys series. The books were aimed at my age at the time and served to fire up my imagination and a lifelong love of reading. I must say, however, that there are elements of the writing that stick out in my mind as being less than stellar. When the young super sleuths sat down to breakfast, I ended up learning EVERYTHING about what they ate. What kind of eggs were they? It was there. Were the yolks hard or runny and did the eggs have the little black specks that deem them inedible, at least by my kids? It was there. Was it wheat toast or white? You get the picture. Nothing was left to the imagination and I’m no longer sure that was a good thing. If I read something like that now I would probably respond with a “Who gives a hoot?” Well, maybe not “hoot” but I have to keep this clean.
I have a question for the more experienced writers here. Is all of that description acceptable for a YA book? Are the rules different from what would be expected for an adult novel?