I consider descriptions to be one of my biggest writing weaknesses. It’s not that I don’t like writing descriptions or that I struggle with it. It’s just that I don’t do it.
First drafts are all about getting the story down for me. The main focus is character, action, and dialogue. Sometimes I’ll throw in a detail or two in there if it comes to me or if I think it’s important, but for the most part, aside from setting and seeing, not much gets put in. Which is fine. It’s a first draft. It’s not supposed to be perfect.
The problem is that when I do revise the story, the details don’t always get added in.
That’s the part I struggle with.
Soemties I forget to add in the details because I know what it looks like, I know what’s going on, I know the scene, but I forget that people can’t see my mind. I have to translate it to the page. It’s pretty basic, but I still miss it every once in awhile. It takes someone else pointing out the vague description that makes me realize that my brain has been filling in the details for me, but I haven’t been putting them on the paper.
There is also, of course, my tunnel vision problem. I sometimes forget that I have other senses that can be used. Sight and sound are usually givens. Touch gets used some, too. Smell and taste are often forgotten. Sure, they’re not always appropriate to include in every story, but sometimes they mention of a smell or a taste can really enhance the setting or the scene.
The stories I’m most pleased with are the ones that I’ve used sensory detail well in. To date my favorite line comes from “Such a Pretty Face” about the “scent of stale onions hanging in the wet air”. It’s subtle, a throw away really, but it adds so much to the story and the scene. It’s my go-to line when I need to remind myself of the need to pay attention to detail.
The details make all the difference.
Stories By The Numbers