I know, I know – readers don’t like description. Keep world-building to a minimum. Show don’t tell. Don’t write a page and a half describing the city. Readers don’t like it.
Yet – I do. You know Dicken’s description of a foggy London at the start of Bleak House? It’s intoxicating to me. Left Hand of Darkness spends two thirds of the book world-building and I’m enchanted. Victor Hugo takes a break at the most exciting part of the story to describe the Paris sewers and I am reluctantly fascinated. I often feel I am a bad reader, because I adore long descriptions.
The description must fulfil a service though. Dickens description sets the tone for the whole book. The world-building lays a very complex stage for a wonderful story. The Paris sewers description both gives a break from the tension of the previous scenes and lays the groundwork for the scenes that happen down there.
I know if you write a long description, your editor will tell you to cut it, and heavy-hearted, you will. And yet – if you choose to leave it in, this is one reader who will be happy.
Sent from my iPad