The Art Of Description: How Much Do You Need?

From the archives: How much description do we really need?

Allison Maruska

One of my favorite books is Stephen King’s On Writing, and one of my favorite parts of that book is when he describes the rabbit. Remember that part? After a few sentences, readers pictured a white rabbit with a blue number eight on it. King used the illustration to describe the telepathic nature of reading and writing.

King quoteIt’s a pretty cool concept. With just a few words, I can make you think/see/smell/touch certain things.

Smell a box of crayons.

Run your fingers over that sandpaper.

Pick up that bowling ball. Careful, it’s a sixteen pounder.

Admire the glowing sunrise.

Someone’s cooking bacon. The smell is wafting through the house.

If I’m good, I can make you feel things, too. Not with your fingers, but with your emotions.

This is where I think the art of description comes into play. If I over-describe something, it will require you the reader to…

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