I have description envy. Basically, I envy writers who have no problems writing out description of their character’s surroundings. It is the hardest part of novel writing for me. I work extremely hard at the process. I read novels with wonderful sentences that light up my world with vision, and colour. I flick back to my work and see an outline in grey. Dialogue is not a problem, I can get my characters to chat along quite happily, but when it comes to their surroundings, I lack the words. I can see the rooms, fields and clothing, but when it is time to describe them, I often draw a blank. I have been told by readers they enjoy my descriptive passages, and their kind words make me smile. The hard work is worth the hours I spend editing and finding inspiration.
So how have I overcome my weakness – my fear?
I tend to scour books or the Internet for the correct image, and semi-meditate after staring at them for a few minutes. After the moments of quiet concentration, I jot down words as they come to mind, anything at all. I then make myself write a few paragraphs using all those words, but they must be dialogue free, and descriptive. It does not need to relate to the wip I am working on at the time. It is surprising how it releases the mind and whether it is a subconscious thing or not, but often I find the perfect description among the paragraphs I have scribble down. So do not consider my time wasted.
|The Haywain by John Constable|
Elle Buchanan, my latest character from, The Man in Room Eighteen, is visiting the site of the Haywain by John Constable, and I have table-mats with the picture imprinted. This was the area I used to live in, and have walked to many times. I took the children picnicking, we walked the dogs through field upon field, and mile upon mile. We rowed up the river and back again. We fished near the mill. All of this was carried out every year, several times a year, but do you think I can describe the old scene in the picture, or draw from my memories?
I kept wondering why, when all those memories were still fresh in my mind, could I not put pen to paper and write about the scenes Elle could see before her. Then it dawned on me. I simply cannot do it justice. Such an widely known place did not deserve to be let down by my scribblings. How was I going to overcome the problem?