Descriptions

I’ve noticed that some readers are more into descriptions than others. And that the same is true for writers. Apparently, I’m one who’s not too into them myself. I know this, because recently I had to fill out a form for my publisher called a Cover Art Request form. It’s simple enough, you fill in some basic info about the book, title, author name, whether or not it’s part of a series. That kind of thing. Then you describe your characters. Of course, you have to be careful that all the descriptions given are consistent with those in the book (duh).

Since the book this is for, Alpha Turned,is actually the first book I wrote, it’s been a while since I read it, let alone wrote it, and I needed help remembering everything. I first went to my OneNote notebook, where I have notes about characters, timelines, etc. I found descriptions of some of the secondary characters, descriptions of the hero and heroine’s wolves. Lots of other things, but no physical description of the two main characters. Oops.

So, I opened up the manuscript and carefully searched. Turns out, I’d never really described them at all. Oops, again. Of course, it’s easy enough to go back and add these things, and it’s actually a good way to get me back into the story in time to do my edits. But it got me thinking.

I’m much more used to being a reader than a writer, and I’ve noticed that I tend to not care much about descriptions when reading books. I’m not one of those people who likes to play the “name the best actor for this role” game with book characters because I never really give their looks too much thought. I don’t visualize them in that way. Turns out I’m pretty much the same with my own characters.

In my more recent manuscripts, I started out by doing some basic character descriptions on my notes page. Not because I wanted to be able to visualize, but so that I could make sure I stayed consistent. See, since I’m not really picturing my characters in my head, when it comes time to describe them for some specific reason, I’ve sort of forgotten what attributes I’ve already given them.

I’m sure that I probably had a point in mind when I started this, but it’s long gone now. I guess it comes down to this. Writers (and this means me, damn it) need to be able to do enough description to keep the readers who do like to visualize happy. But not so much that those who don’t, feel like they’re skimming through whole pages. (As I do when reading Tom Clancy. That’s more about technical stuff than descriptions, but the same theory applies.)

Of course, I’m sure some readers love two page descriptions of regency era drawing rooms, and that’s the other thing I need to remember. There are all types of readers, just as there are all types of writers. There’s no way I’m going to please all the readers, all the time. What one enjoys will irritate another, and so on, and so forth. Somebody please remind me of this when I get a bad review.

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