As a reader, I read and let the story take me away - transport me beyond my armchair. I can go to any era, any country, be anything I want to be. I can imagine great fetes of magic, the impossible, and the romantic. I can even get the hero at the end *heavy sigh.* I’m not alone. In the book On Writing Romance, Leigh Michaels says:
“The goal of writing a story is to make the readers feel like they’re right there, sitting quietly in a corner as the action unfolds – watching, listening, smelling, touching and tasting right along with the characters. When the readers feel like they’re part of the story, they become so involved that they can’t put the book down.”
I agree with Ms. Michaels, my goal as an author is to write stories that evoke a reader’s emotions and puts them into the story. I’ve always said I paint stories with my words. Not too long ago I came across a resource book that leaped off the shelf and grabbed me, Word Painting by Rebecca McClanahan.
Below is an excerpt from Ms. McClanahan’s book.
· Descriptive passages create the illusion of reality, inviting the reader to move in, unpack his bags and settle in for a spell. They provide verisimilitude, what John Gardner calls the “proofs” that support and sustain your fictional dream.
· Description composed of sensory detail penetrates layers of consciousness, engaging your reader emotionally as well as intellectually.
· Carefully selected descriptive details can establish your characters and settings quickly and efficiently.
· As a framing device, description establishes the narrator’s, or character’s, point of view. Shifts in the description frame (or eye) can signal shifts in point of view or a significant change in the character.
· Well-placed descriptive passages can move your story along, shape the narrative line and unfold the plot.
· Descriptive passages can act as gear shifts, changing the pace of your story – speeding it up or slowing it down, thus increasing the story’s tension.
· Description can serve as a transitional device, a way of linking scenes or changing time and place.
· Description can orchestrate the dance between scene and summary.
· Description can serve as a unifying thematic device, what Stanley Kunitz calls the “constellation of images” that appears and reappears in a literary work, suggesting the idea of feeling that lives beneath the story line.
· Description can provide the palette for graduations in mood and tone. Dip your brush in one description and the key darkens; in another, and sun breaks through.
What makes you keep reading? What part does description play in your book?