Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Self-Editing Checklist: Setting and Description
The challenge is translating what we see in our minds and displaying it for the reader to see as well. When editing my scenes, I ask myself four key questions related to description.
1) Have I grounded the reader in the setting? At the beginning of a scene, do they know where they're at? Do I have my characters interact with the setting, so that the setting is a natural part of the story (versus a paragraph of description separated from the action)?
2) Do I give at least a snapshot description of new characters when they're first introduced in the story? If they're important characters, do I provide more than just a snapshot?
3) Do I filter in character descriptions throughout the manuscript in a way that distinguishes each character and avoids cliches? Jody Hedlund wrote an awesome post on this topic. You can read her article here.
Your homework, should you choose to accept it: Study the introduction of each of your scenes and each character and determine whether you've given them the appropriate level of description. If you have a stagnant descriptive sentence, rewrite it in a way that fuses it with senses, action, or emotion. And be sure to read Jody's post for some super tips.
So let's talk. Do you always have a strong visual of what your setting and your characters look like? Do you tend to write too much description or too little? Any other tips you can add to my list?
This post is part of the Self-Editing Checklist series. For the rest of the series, click here.
*Floor photo by suphakit73 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net