Descriptions in fiction writing

Many writers struggle with descriptions.  How much detail do you give?  How important is it that I describe this object/place?  How do you go about describing an everyday object so you don’t bore your reader?  I’m not talking about people today just objects.  Although with people you certainly don’t want to use a laundry list such as:  He was six feet tall with brown hair and brown eyes.  No one will remember that.  But that’s a post for a different day.

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In every story, regardless of genre, setting the scene is important so your reader knows where the story is taking place.  It’s also a great way to show a passage of time.  For instance, the sun drained from the sky.  By that sentence we know that it is past twilight.  You can go further to show that it is deeper in the night by describing a velvety black sky pierced with tiny pinpricks of light, etc…

But how do you go about describing mundane objects so we don’t bore the reader?  I read recently that some readers skip over the parts in books where the author sets the scene or describes an object or room.  Though I understand it in some cases, I believe the reader is missing out on valuable information.

One way to capture your reader’s attention and not allow them to skip these important parts is by making it interesting, setting an image in their mind.  In my opinion, the best way to accomplish this is to look at objects as if peering through a child’s eyes.  Seeing objects with not only your sight but with your soul.  Make the object come alive in your writing and you’ll surely hold your reader’s interest.

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These examples are from my latest novel, Silent Betrayal.

1.  Beyond the chair a floor-to-ceiling bookcase stood tall and proud like an English queen’s guard.

2.  Lead crystal figurines gleamed in the moonlight, splashed kaleidoscope colors on white walls, high-vaulted wooden ceilings and sandy Berber carpeting.  The figurinesreflection thrown back again and again like an echo that vanishes far off in a distant land.

3.  Off to the side, an old steamer trunk– deep blue with brass buckles– crouched beneath a window like a child playing hide-and-seek. 

By adding analogies to objects your reader won’t soon forget them or that room.  The next time the protagonist enters the room the reader will have a perfect picture in their mind.  But– be careful not to overdo it.  Too much description and you’ve ruined it.  Only describe places or objects that are crucial to your story.  Places and objects that are important because the plot/scene requires it.

For some writing fun, look around your house and/or your yard and pick an object, a really boring object preferably, and leave me a comment with your description.  Get those literary juices flowing and wow us with your unique view.

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