Thursday, April 30, 2009

Missing, Presumed Not Needed.

Sometimes, what you leave out is as important as what you put in.

When giving descriptions of your world, or of the people in it, overdescription should be avoided. Do you really need to describe the thunderous looks on the face of a demon AND the effects it has on the mortals around it? Or will a reference to the demon's look and its effects suffice?

I'm reading my way through Terry Pratchett's Discworld series at the moment, and what stands out above everything else are the sparse descriptions that he uses. He rarely describes the look of disgust on the face of a witch, but he does describe the effect it has on a wizard.

Iain M Banks is another writer who has a sparse style.

Keeping descriptions to the minimum (take note Miss Rowling) keeps the pace up, the interest high and allows the reader to fill in the gaps.

The hard part is deciding what to leave out.


Anonymous said...

I agree!!! In the immortal vein of Hemingway: adjectives are our enemy — action is our friend.

Anonymous said...

"If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water."
Ernest Hemingway

Litgirl01 said...

Great post! I'm at a crossroads at the moment. Stuck! :-)

Martin Willoughby said...

I've heard Hemingway is a good writer for sparse prose. I may have to check him out.