Okay kids, here’s the thing.

The vast amount of stuff I beta read has the same problem, so I’m going to tell you all what I tell my authors: descriptions, just like dialogue, need to feel organic. So much of what I read just rocket-launches into description for the readers benefit. I’m talking police-sketch levels of description when a new character is introduced, I’m talking extensive paragraphs that are essentially blueprints for a building. I get it, you’re a visual thinker and the medium doesn’t enable you to communicate that effectively. But it’s jarring to read. Please no.

Here’s how to avoid it: Introduce descriptions as your character interacts, or reacts with it/them. 

As a kid, I used to wonder if the world was just formed for me within my eyesight, and would constantly flip my head around really quickly to try and catch ‘the blank’. This is a common thought that reflects the way most people see the world. That is, it only exists when we interact with it. 

What does this mean? Well, if your character already knows someone who is new to your piece, don’t describe them, this isn’t a fresh interaction and as such, your character wouldn’t be studying this person. If they’re entering a building, describe things as your character interacts with them, e.g. ‘the door was imposingly tall, the dark wood and iron lacing sneering down at x, who all of a sudden felt quite small indeed’ rather than an entire description of the floor-plan and materials this building is made from. 

Your readers have imaginations, they will fill in the gaps for themselves. This is why we can have a debate about whether PoC!Hermione is canon, because description isn’t necessary in order to have a fully dimensional character.

Message me for questions and/or disagreements. 

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