Description isn’t very fashionable at the moment. People make little gifs of animals falling asleep and say this what readers do when they read description. Nothing and no one is described.

On the other hand, I do write descriptions. I have to. I need people to know what Whitechapel is like. Someone said I’d written the most vivid description of a kitchen they’d ever read. I didn’t feel like I could do without it – and I didn’t want to. I like description. I like reading something lyrical and evocative and seeing a place in my mind. I like the tiny unique details.

I’m told a long description can be a break in the plot. But sometimes that’s a good thing. Victor Hugo writes about five pages describing the Paris sewers in Les Miserables. But the description takes place after the trauma of the battle on the barricades and the tension of Javert’s hunt of Valjean and Marius. If the two events had been together there would have been too much happening at once. But that long description gives the reader time to catch their breath and calm down. It is also incredibly atmospheric.

So I say bring the descriptions back. They’re only temporarily unfashionable. People will want them back again. If you want to, write them.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street


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