Goldilocks takes so much crap for wanting to be “just right.” The perfectly warm oatmeal. The wonderfully spacious bed. Sure she’s breaking and entering into the Bear’s home, but she’s looking for perfection. And isn’t that what every writer is aiming for?
We want enough detail to immerse the reader but not too much we squash individual imagination. Then we storm into peoples homes through the pages of a book and find the spot that is “just write.”
But how? Overwriting and underwriting are equally incriminating. Here are some examples.
The hot oats oozed over her spoon as the excess splattered back into the bowl. Too much? Yeah, she hasn’t even tasted it yet! This is going to take forever to get through three bowls of oatmeal let alone three beds.
Here’s too little: Goldilocks ate all the oatmeal. Wait. All the oatmeal? Every bowl was different, but how was it different? We don’t want to know everything but we do want to know why she’s so stinking picky.
Goldilocks hovered the spoon under her nose, smelling the cinnamon deeply before letting the gooey mix touch her tongue, too sweet. Oh! Now we are onto something. She’s completed the action, the imagination is stimulated, and we are moving on. This is a story I can sink my teeth into.
Let me say, we all have our own preferences. For me to read a page that is over flowered with adjectives and descriptors makes for a painful read. Equally horrendous, is the story that gives me nothing to work with.
Overall, description is one of the few places where being in the middle is relished by readers!
So weigh each word to bring the right amount of description. The carefully selected single word will beat out
a plethora of excess and steal your readers hearts. I’m not saying to be lazy about your descriptions. The opposite is true. There are so many options for words and to find the perfect one is like hunting for perfect oatmeal. It’s hard work! You have to break into the thesaurus and by the end you are extra sleepy. Oh, but that perfect bowl of words is so worth it!
Be like Goldilocks and don’t stop till you have the words that are ‘just write.’
If you want more examples of description see, ‘Showing’ Character Description, Here.