Descriptions & Wordiness

Venomous eyes struck the doctor. (–Edited from original)

Wow. I see something like scorpion tails coming out of a character’s eyes and striking the people they’re talking to. Interesting.

Yes, this post is another series of notes I’ve had to jot down and comment on because I see this issue in a lot of work. I think these sorts of thing occur because writers love words. And that’s a good thing. But too much of a good thing begins to transform into a bad thing. Let me continue.animal-dog-pet

When’s the last time your ears…pricked? When someone’s ears prick, I see them point straight up like a dog’s. Unfortunately, human ears don’t move like an animal’s. So I don’t see how human ears prick to wailing creaks from a nearby floorboard from the chorus of a character’s footfalls (maybe they’re tapdancing?) as a swollen tear slips down their sun-kissed tan…? Wow. Okay, so I condensed a paragraph of description into one long run-on sentence.

Like I said: there’s artistic usage of verbiage, and then there’s an artistic display gone horribly wrong. If you’re trying to get a Dali effect, then by all means go all out on the metaphors and analogies. But for seriousness’ sake, think about what you’re saying!

Here’s another one: Velvet shadows? Is the entire room made of velvet? Or does everything the shadow touch turn into velvet? Seriously, consider and consider again if the adjectives make sense, or if you’re just sticking pretty-sounding descriptions in there just to make the text sounds pretty. Meanwhile, your prose is slowly but surely turning into poetic nonsense.

Lesson Learned

Minimal is so much better than nonsense.

For example: “The cold shadows obfuscated the crystalline effects of his mental prowess and he espied vagaries and unseen ghosts through his dimming eyesight.”

That was hard to come up with. I appreciate the thought and effort put into the words.

But ideally? “The shadows played tricks on his eyes.”

Because the latter sentence just gets right to the point. The former sentence obfuscates and is genuinely confusing.

And please, don’t stick flowery prose into a high-tension scene. There are other ways to build suspense, and they are definitely not with wordiness and ridiculous usage of adjectives. Forcing the reader to read a long sentence is not going to build or prolong tension, it’s going to annoy the reader. Let the story carry the suspense. Not the thesaurus.

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