In the wake of the start of NaNoWriMo and the beginning of jamming as many words as I possibly can out onto the paper to make my daily word count, I’ve been thinking a little bit about scene. More specifically, I’ve been thinking about how to describe scenes, and, really, it’s been playing on my brain since I started the horror story and pondered if my descriptions of the houses were not only boring, but also unnecessary and confusing. I’ve been going back in padding a few chapters with some scenery descriptions, though I do feel I probably should have included some of that in the first place. So the real question that pops up in my head is wondering how much scene description is needed? How much is wanted? Is it vital to fully transporting your reader? Or should they be reserved only for when a description of the surroundings is beneficial to plot or character development?
I know scenery description tends to be a big part of the genre I typically write, which is fantasy, a carry-over from Grandfather Tolkein and part of the drive to have the reader fully immersed in a world entirely different from our own. I know I usually fail at properly describing these worlds, and, when I do, I somehow feel that it’s insufficient, hokey, or just irritating. I know my eyes can sometimes glaze over when I’m met with a huge block of text describing a place; I try not to skip around, but if I’m likely to skip something, it’s a description of a place. But sometimes they can be well-written, they can take you directly in the middle of a place you’ve never been, and that is always a special experience. So the key, I feel, is that if you’re infusing a lot of scenery into your work, it better be done well, it better be interesting, and it better serve a purpose.
Right now, it just sort of serves for word count. And maybe in editing I’ll get a chance to whittle it down to something effective. I’m all about getting everything out now and then deciding what works and what doesn’t later.
What are you thoughts on scenery? Do you tend to write a lot of scenic views and vistas, or do you tend to gloss over physical descriptions of places? Do you enjoy reading them? Do you have a favorite passage of a great scene description that people should use as inspiration on how it’s done? As always, I’m interested to hear what anyone else has to add!