To immerse readers into your book’s world, you have to describe it. And to do that you need adjectives — lots of them!
How else will those readers to see the fluffiness of those white clouds against the pink sky? How will they feel the velvety soft smoothness of your heroine’s soft, velvety, smooth cheek beneath your hero’s fingers? How will they hear the deep timbre of the hero’s voice, rough, and well, deep with desire?
It’s up to you, dear writers, to provide that magical experience by weaving plenty of description into your story.
Don’t say the sky is blue when you can call it “deep, azure.” And the clothing your heroine “accidentally” kept after the hero left it at her house? That’s not merely a shirt. It’s an “ancient, well-worn, plaid flannel.” The cookies she made him? They were “soft and chewy, filled with delectable, melted chocolate” or perhaps “salty, burnt, and astonishingly horrible.” (Either way, you know he ate them.)
Remember, if a few adjectives can make a story good, then lots of them will certainly make it great!
Seriously? There’s such a thing as too many adjectives (even if they’re wonderful, fabulous, and beautiful).
The trick to description is to use just enough words without using too many. Exactly the right word is always better than ten words that are almost right. As Mark Twain once said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” So find the right word.
Specificity matters. Gene C. Strathy explains why.
How do you know what to describe and what to leave to the imagination? Here’s some help from Denise Robbins.
And DigiDave paid $40,000 in tuition to get these tips from Bruce Porter. Lucky for us, he’s sharing them for free.
Want some practice? Leave a comment describing my shawl (featured in the picture above).