How much detail to include in descriptions is always an issue but when you’re writing a weekly serial there’s the idea that some people will read from the beginning but others might pick it up a few episodes in. How much description of setting and characters do you include then? Do you have to include some in every episode? If you keep describing the same setting over and over will the reader get bored?

In the end I had to settle for repeatedly describing places only when needed and not in huge detail. There are descriptions of Bran’s house and how it is jam packed with books but I try to keep them to a necessary minimum. Why? Firstly, I ask myself if the reader needs to know about all those books in that episode or if something else is more important, for instance his favourite chair by the library fire or all the windows that look out on the garden. Not only do I consider this because I don’t want to bore the reader by repeatedly telling them things they may already know but also because I have a word limit of between 1,000 and 1,500 words, most coming it at 1,000 or less. The more time I spend describing all those books and bookcases the less time I have for the story. Perhaps I could extend it to 2,000 words but at that point my inner editor is telling me that if I can tell the story in 1,000 words than that is all I need.

The second thing I consider is how many different ways can you describe a bookcase? It might seem a silly thing to suggest but a bookcase is a bookcase, it might have a special shape to it or an unusual colour, but that itself makes it memorable to a repeat reader and they’re going to notice if you keep point it out. And if you keep pointing it out there’s the potential to describe it either in the say way or in an increasingly florid way which might also annoy the reader. This might be fine if you have a character taken to poeticism but Charlotte’s more of a ‘a duck’s a duck’ kind of person so poetics would look out of place.

In the end I settled on treating the story as one extended piece, which it is although it’s broken into pieces, so it has to work in unison. While an extended pieces tends to mention important details more than once extended descriptions of the same thing tend to become glaring and jarring. The balance can be difficult, I sometimes worry that I don’t have enough description, but if I keep at it then I should learn to attune myself more effectively.


For more writing advice see my Advice Page. To read the serial see the Weekly Serial page.

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