December 18, 2008

Writing Tip 4, Description, Author Norm Cowie

We think in pictures. A book with just the right words can conjure up the perfect image in our minds. But too much "color" and too much setting can leave the reader...

Well, let Norm Cowie, author of THE NEXT ADVENTURES OF GUY (Draumr Publishing 2007) and the upcoming funny (yes, funny) Young Adult vampire book, FANG FACE (Echelon Press, Aug.'09) tell it his way:

Tip 4: Cut the Description

"Too many people put way too much description in their stories, and run the risk of boring their reader," says Cowie.

Cowie points to author Elmore Leonard who once said the following about writing: "I try to leave out the parts that people skip."

"So, don't describe it unless it needs to be described! It sounds easy, but..."

We know, try it, right?

** What's your take on it?

-- Norm Cowie, THE NEXT ADVENTURES OF GUY, a zany adventure/fantasy continuing the quest of Guy and his college buddies taking on sinister forces and working to save Earth from aliens.


  1. For every Elmore Leonard fan, there's an Elizabeth George fan who loves to read three pages on the food at a buffet. [No, I can't back up those stats, but it seems reasonable.] So, find your "description voice" and don't try to copy anyone else's. If it's good description it will work no matter how long or short.

  2. I think, that to a certain extent, description is one of those things publishers vary on.

    For example, my publisher wanted me to take out the word "cornflower" in the description of my character in that she had "cornflower blue eyes." Later, she didn't want "leather recliner," simply recliner.

    Those are small examples, and of course I made the changes.

    I try to be very careful of descriptions, because, like most of us, I've skipped them in books, too!

  3. I guess I like descriptions providing they get my attention and hold it. I can read pages of dollhouse descriptions but the food might bore me.ha!

  4. I'm with you, Norm. I try not to describe something unless it really needs it, and then I try to fit it in with some action that's taking place.


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