Sunday, July 31, 2011
Tell Me About It
When I first started writing fanfic I totally neglected my surroundings. I didn't describe in intimate detail what color the walls were painted or what the room smelled like. I didn't even let my readers know whether or not my characters were wearing anything at all. Then I started to see that maybe I needed to pay attention to these things and I started working on my descriptions. It's actually a fun yet frustrating exercise in my opinion. I do think, when done right, it can add to a story - sometimes even add volumes to a story. But after one particular chapter of one of my fics, I told Zyra that I thought that I was describing too much now. And that I thought I had gone overboard trying to compensate in an area that I thought I had been lacking in.
So. How much is too much? How little is not enough?
I don't have the answers here, so I hope you aren't eagerly waiting for them. I have thought about it though and I think I've gotten to a comfortable place for me, anyway. If we are strictly talking about SW fanfic (which I think we are), I think if you have your characters in a new situation/time period then maybe you need to give a little description of the surroundings and what they are wearing.
For instance, if you are writing Han and Leia and it is set in the time frame of the movies and they are on the Millennium Falcon, do we really need a description of what the inside of the Falcon looks like? Definitely not. Unless, it is through one of the characters eyes and it gives a glimpse of their state of mind or triggers a memory or something like that. But we don't need a Martha Stewart description of the wall color and flooring. Am I right? But if you are in a different time or place, say Han and Leia are married and living in an apartment/house (see above pic). Well, then you might want to clue your readers in to what things look like and if maybe Han is still wearing the same pants.
I definitely think descriptions, when you are using them, should add to the characters. We shouldn't be more worried about what Leia's dress is made out of but how does she feel in it? Or how does the silkiness of the fabric make Han feel about the woman that is wearing it? Same with the surroundings. Not so much what they look like, but what do they look like to the characters or what do they make the characters think of? Does the white couch in their new apartment remind Han of the fight they had about him keeping his shoes off of it? Does it remind Leia of when they made up from that fight?
I still think I have a lot of room for improvement in my descriptive areas, I guess that's why I thought this was a good topic to discuss. I do feel like I am still trying to find the right balance of setting the stage for my reader but not sounding like a set/costume designer. And I didn't even really delve into sounds and smells, but I think they should follow the same logic.
What do y'all think?