Alex J. Cavanaugh asked about description. Specifically how to add enough description the first time through? There isn't a fix to this Alex. You have to train yourself to do it. Some people have too much description and others have flat and underdeveloped description. I will share my method and hopefully you all will be inspired.
I am a trained artist. Color is important to me. As a child I viewed the world differently than my family members. I saw beyond the tall grass and weeds to a world that hummed with life. I have lived in Nebraska, Colorado and Minnesota and when I was a child our family took month long road trips. I can tell you that each place has its own feel, its own hum, its own life oozing out of the corners to envelope those it touches.
As a child in Nebraska, my brother and sister and I ran wild at night with our friends catching fireflies. I saw magic in their glow. Later we moved to Colorado where the grass was spiky from lack of humidity and hurt my bare feet. The mountains spoke to my insignificance and I began to search for God. Found Him. In college I lived in several locals in Minnesota, land of ten thousand lakes. Autumns in Minnesota are vibrant and beautiful and the first frost left ice crystals like fairy dust all over the trees, houses and windows. I loved Minnesota.
With this background I can shut my eyes and imagine a world rich with color and life, with sweltering heat and freezing cold, with damp rain or wind that rattles the shades. I can smell the world around me. I can twirl in my imagination and see the buildings and people, smell the pigs or horses, flick away a fly. Perhaps I have an unfair advantage. But I am not a science fiction writer, as is Alex, and there is no way I could describe the intricate details of a machine that is critical to the plot.
What do I recommend for those of you who don't get all the description you need the first time though?
Slow down. When you do your research or you're out and about take notes, take pictures, write down or record in some fashion what you see, smell, and taste. What do you hear? What sensations are available to the touch? Then imagine one of your characters in that same place, what is different about it to them? What do they experience? With this type of discipline, you will develop the skills necessary to give your novels a rich backdrop that will cause the readers to get lost in your world and make it their own.
I hope that is a help to all of you. Let me know if there are any burning questions you would like answered.
To read previous Writing Craft post go here.
Alex J. Cavanaugh wants to know how he can add enough description the first time through.
Golden Eagle and Michael Di Gesu wanted to know about back story and information dump. I broke this up into several post.
Still to come:
Riya wants to know how a writer decides on a genre since she reads in many different genres.
Nas Dean wants to know about show don't tell.
Mike Rushhoeft suggested a list of words to avoid. Good idea Mike.
Need additional help? Email me for class information. firstname.lastname@example.org