Thursday, November 13, 2014

Too much description and atmosphere?

I'm reading a book right now that is full of description and atmosphere...and I find myself becoming very impatient with it.  The Lies of Locke Lamora.

I mean, I think I would've had no trouble with it when I was younger, though I may have spent quite a bit of time skipping over the longer passages.  As I pay attention to what's being written, my feeling is that it's really well done, almost poetic. But...boring.

Nothing is really happening.  There isn't a big overall threat to the main character so far.  It's all well-done theater, decent dialogue, interesting background building.  This is a highly regarded book, by the way, so I'm finding it intriguing that I don't like it that much.  Good enough to keep reading, but not much more than that.

Just very interesting to read as a writer as to what I like about it and what I don't like about it.

I tend to believe that I probably don't do enough description and atmosphere -- and that is mostly a good thing.  On the general hunch, though, that I could use some more of that, my rewrites are more or less about trying to find places where atmosphering and descriptioning make sense.

A book like this shows that I probably don't have to be afraid of doing more of that.  Very consciously add those elements where I can.

I think really deft writers can create the same atmosphere and descriptions with a few choice phrases.  But...well, you have to be damn good.

So other authors make up for it by going on and on until they make their point.

I'm trying to find a spot I'm comfortable with, somewhere in-between.

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