It’s one of my banes. Description of places, people, things in a story that need to be there. I’ve devoured how other people do it, read up on the best/worst for each style of storytelling.
Does it help?
Sometimes. One book I had to read about three times before I realised what he meant. That’s too hard. It should be easy.
Because for each type of narrator, Point of View (POV), genre, style, language, etc. the description elements may be an expectation from the reader, or the publisher, and completely different from the writer’s expectation — both of what’s required and how to do it.
I don’t like reading stories with so much description that the story effectively stops. Those are the bits I skim. In my view, as a reader, if I can’t picture these things through the POV character, they have no relevance. If they have relevance to the POV character, they should be voicing that effect.
——————– So, let’s try it. Third person, close POV, scary/tense. And I’ll try to use FOWC — Treacherous (as subtext).
Sharp-bladed grass cut Bendit’s feet as he ran toward the rise near the flat horizon. Haze rose and fell in time to his pounding steps, breaths rasped and burned his throat and lungs. If he didn’t make it out this time, if he was too slow from the fattening process, he’d be their next meal.
The shudder in his body slowed him down. Don’t think of them, don’t see their sucking, oozing mouthpieces, don’t relive the screams of friends and enemies alike. No one deserved to die like that.
He had to warn the world what was here, what was coming for them.
Desert light spun bright colours off the electric fence at the border. On the far side …
No. Just run. That hill, that rise. Run fast enough, get enough impulsion to throw himself over the fence. It wasn’t high, it wasn’t sparking. They didn’t want to kill their food when it ran — although some said fear improved the flavour — but they wouldn’t let any escape.
The front the visitors offered the world leaders was a mask. Everything they did was a mask.
Bendit ran for his life, for the lives of everyone trapped in the underground station, for the lives of the whole world.
It’s only a short piece, but …
What is the picture in your mind of what Bendit looks like? Can you visualise him with only this level of description?
Or do you feel for him, or within him? Do you feel his fear, his desperation?
Which is more important — knowing what he looks like, or feeling what he’s suffering?