Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Author Spotlight - Barri Bryan talks about writing Description

Description has been called the essence of fiction. When properly related, descriptions can provide concrete illustrations of general principals. To my despair, I often find there was nothing in my vocabulary that will adequately portray the sights I see in my imagination or express the emotions I feel in my heart. I have all these wonderful thoughts in my mind and images in my head, but I lack the ability to give them vision or volume.

I think of a description as a re-creation in words. My task is to create the verbal representation. To do this, I must choose the right words, and choose which words to exclude. Good description is never overstated. It reveals as it recalls and persuades as it presents.

To write a good description I must not only see clearly, I must perceive clearly. Seeing refers to outward vision. It involves describing the concrete through sensory details. Perceiving refers to inward vision and involves describing the abstract thought figures of speech. A good description uses both sensory details and figures of speech. A great description maintains a delicate balance between seeing and perceiving, to produce a symmetrical and harmonious re-creation.

Descriptive writing requires powers of observation. What we see is based to a great extent on what we know. What we see is also based on past experiences. The eye and the mind collect, sort out, and impose patterns on visual, verbal, and auditory stimuli. The mind relates those patterns to other patterns, enlarging, reinterpreting, and gives meaning to our experiences and observations by engaging our imagination.

The sunrise was beautiful does little to stir the imagination. The rim of a yellow sun climbed over the eastern horizon causing the misty veil of morning to lift and float away, gives the description of sunrise depth and clarity. The rainstorm was frightening pales in comparison to: A driving rain struck with sudden force unleashing a howling wind that rattled windows and shook through the branches of trees.

Is it any wonder that description has been called the essence of fiction?

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1 comment:

  1. Description has a lot to do with how we perceive the characters as well as the things around us. "His forehead wrinkled and his eyes glittered..."
    I like your sunrise and rainstorm.
    I agree it is hard to find the right words to describe things and people.