Sunday, May 27, 2012
The spiral staircase
It has been said that description is one of the three pillars of a good story, the other two being exposition and narrative. Good description draws the reader into the story so that they can picture themselves in the setting, experiencing not only the sights, but the smells and sounds of the environment in which the characters exist.
Good description need not be flowery. In fact, language that is too complex may have the undesired effect of interrupting the reader's descent into the world of your story. They should not have to think about the words but just feel their impact.
Good description need not be long. I vaguely recall making several attempts to read "Tom Bronwn's School Days" in my childhood days. It is a classic, if you can get through what feels like a chapter long description of every inch of the flora along the path that Tom took to school.
As I write these notes, I sit with two books in my lap. One is on descriptive writing and one on writing picture books. Contrary to everything that I said above, to do the latter, one must actually refrain from the former and allow the picture to talk while the text provides poetic lyrics that enhance the image. It almost feels like the author is secondary and I question whether a successful picture book can be created without the visual artist being a part of the vision that created the story.
Neither player (author or illustrator) is secondary in the process of creating a picture book, of course, both compelling images and creative words work together to draw a child in and keep them saying "Mommy, read it again!"
See you on the June 12th! (The year is really flying by.)