It’s Monday again, time for a little bit of writing advice:
This ties back to the first post in this series (here), and it’s about how our minds and our imaginations are really quick about creating our own impressions – even if all we have is incomplete data.
When reading a story, did it ever happen to you that the text described something in a way that didn’t match the image in your head? That’s what this is about.
If I picture something in my mind based on something I’m reading I will fill in any significant blanks in the description myself. It’s difficult for me to imagine a person with long hair without also imagining that the hair has a colour. It’s much easier to just assume the hair is blonde, or black, or red, purple, ginger, whatever. You’ll have no idea what kind of colour I imagined the hair was.
Later on, the text reveals that the long flowing hair is not only brown, but also woven through with a garland of flowers.
That doesn’t match my impression at all. It contradicts my experience of the story, and I will have to either revise my internal image or ignore that part of the description. Both options are bad.
When writing, keep track of what information you have included in your description and what you’ve left out. Do not go back and fill in the missing details later as chances are you’ll contradict what your reader has imagined.
There are ways to get around this and to add more details later, but that’s a topic for another day.