Insipid Observations

Ramblings of a bored writer

When enough is enough

How much description is enough? Some prefer as many details as possible (even bordering on lavish) while others are minimalist, or at least attempt to be and end up not painting a very good picture. I’m in Limbo.

I’ve read stories with long, paragraph length descriptions and loved it. Then I’ve read others of equal length and thought, “Wow. That was way too much.” Both styles are acceptable, I think subject matter and the flow of the story truly dictate which works best. Different levels of talent also come into play. Some authors can make just about anything work.

Personally, in some places I write too much and in others, too little. I’m still trying to find the happy medium. I keep telling myself, “expand upon important subject matter and be sparse with the extra tidbits.”

In an earlier post, I mentioned having to delete about 60% of my manuscript. This I why. I had entire paragraphs, even chapters dedicated to things that simply weren’t that important. For example, in my novel Panmesia there was a scene in which the MC, Ciarán had a vivid, foreshadowing dream. I got so into it, I wrote about 3,000 words worth of dream. Yeah, it was important. But not that important.

Even now, I still struggle with deciding what stays and what goes. I have pages upon pages of scenes I’m eager to use, but just don’t make the cut. As for the ones that are useable, for the most part they’ve been shortened down to paragraph or two.

What do you all prefer? Lavish? Minimalism? A healthy medium? All of the above? Other? I’d love to know…if you could make sense of my ramblings of course. 🙂

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8 thoughts on “When enough is enough

  1. I dread to think how much of my first draft will get cut. Like you, I get carried away with scenes that just aren’t that important. It’s great that we get the opportunity to edit, and hopefully we all have writing buddies to steer us in the right direction when we lose our way 🙂 Thank goodness for Scribo 🙂

  2. Yes, I agree! Scrib is still whipping me into shape. Hopefully I’ll have some of my newer stuff up soon. I’m almost ready for some feedback. 🙂

  3. I have been told I an overly purple in my prose, but I am still sort of a minimalist when it comes to descriptions outside of scene sets. Least I think so. I get called on overuse of adjectives at times, so that is something I am working on culling — but damn if the english language isnt far too accomodating when it comes to great words to use. 🙂

    • You said it, Rebecca! There are some words I just love. So naturally, I want to use them. I sometimes make a way for them to fit into my work. Not always good. Like you, I’m working on it! 🙂

  4. Like Rebecca, I’ve written things over the top purple prose. It’s hard to find a happy medium IMO. I think the only thing that can help us is to remember one question:

    How does this relate to the story?

    If it doesn’t drive the plot, it need to be culled from the herd. However, like you mentioned on your current WiP, Della, that scene you cut might have shown how Ciarán’s paranormal thang is changing or growing. As a follower of it, I see how the ability he has seems to be morphing. Yeah, 3k sounds like a lot but if it’s important for people to understand what he’s going through, it’s not that bad. I’m sure some it was a little too much info but then again, what part of the story is it? Is he increasingly snapping into a dream-like state that lasts longer and longer?

    Anyway, rambling and such. 🙂

  5. Yeah, I have a hard time differentiating what is essential and what isn’t. To me, all of it is. Every scene I have will come into play later, I spent a little too much time planing it all out. It boils down to me saying to myself, “Okay. Not everything has to be a clue or foreshadow coming events.”

    What can I say, I love putting in subtle hints that may not make sense until ones read the entire novel. I just have to work on cutting it back while not cutting out the vitals of the plot! 😀

  6. I’m quite the opposite. I’m very (at least what I consider) minimalistic. I feel the reader will fill in the blanks and in doing so will paint a much more vivid mental picture than I can ever hope to paint..

    In fact, in my first book I don’t think I ever described my characters and yet those that have read it say they can see each one. Don’t ask me how I did it. If I knew, I’d be published several times over by now 😉

    Go with what works for you. While some may say it’s too much, others will gush about it. You are already able to accept when you need to trim. That, in of itself, is a HUGE hurdle.

    I love the subtle hints too. As a reader AND as a writer.

    • Yup! I like for the reader to fill in the blanks as well, but I second guess myself when I have beta readers that are like wtf!? It makes me wonder if I’ve not given enough info. So far, I’ve stuck with what I’ve originally written unless everyone else is of a different opinion…and even then I sometimes leave it. :p I can be stubborn. 😀

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