Welcome to another appointment with The Phrase Doctor. Last week, I talked about description here, but I thought I'd delve a bit more into that sometimes murky topic this week in the hopes of clearing things up a bit. The problem is that there seem to be contradictory ideas concerning description.
For example, you'll hear people who believe they know things say that adverbs are bad. Poor adverbs. They aren't bad. What's bad is the way people sometimes use them. Take this sentence:
Sarah raced hurriedly through the crowd, painfully aware she was running out of time.
While not the worst sentence in the world, the idea would be far better expressed if just one of the adverbs was replaced with some clear description. Try this instead:
Painfully aware she was running out of time, Sarah raced over the wet concrete as she bobbed and weaved through the crowd.
Notice how just a little more description makes the scene come alive. Now look at this:
Painfully aware she was running out of time, Sarah prayed she hadn't waited too long as she raced across the wet concrete of the plaza, bobbing and weaving through the dense crowd.
While the first sentence gave the reader the idea that Sarah's in a hurry and the second sentence made the idea more vivid, the third sentence makes it come alive. It's full of action and emotion, which is just what you want your story to have.
The key to both writing and description is choosing your words carefully. Make each word do its full duty and your scenes will come right off the page every time.
Come back next Tuesday for another session with The Phrase Doctor, and remember that if you have any editing or writing questions, send them along. We love to hear them!
Editor for The Phrase Doctor alongside her partner, Yvonne Glanville, Gabrielle earned a bachelor's degree in English and a master's degree in History, in addition to certification to teach both subjects in high school. After years of teaching college composition courses and history courses, she currently only teaches college students American and European history.
In addition, Gabrielle is an Amazon bestselling author of paranormal and historical erotic romance with her Sons of Navarus series and her Victorian Erotic Romance Trilogy. She's been writing for years, both in fiction and non-fiction, for pleasure and her day job, and began professionally editing over a decade ago.
Find out more about The Phrase Doctor and how to get
your manuscript edited by the Doctor at: