12 Tips for Improving Your Description

writing description

As part of my query and synopsis critique services, I sometimes look at the first five pages of a writer’s manuscript, looking for red flags and other problems that may result in a quick rejection. Invariably, I find problems with the level of description—the balance is off, and usually there’s too much time spent trying to evoke the setting in flowery terms or describe the protagonist’s physical features.

In the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, novelist Abby Geni offers 12 tips to help achieve the right balance and write good description in your work. She says:

Think in terms of “telling details”: details that let the reader see your characters while also revealing something about their minds. In this way, your descriptions can do double duty: giving the reader a physical picture while also showing an inner, mental trait.

She also recommends that you avoid a description of a character’s hair and eye color, as well as height and weight. Read the full post.

Also in this month’s Glimmer Train:

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Posted in Creativity + Inspiration and tagged , , , .

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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