Who Me Am and Where Me Be?

There are times when I think I’ve read too many “How to Write” books. Every book I read says something similar; show don’t tell. That statement should be pretty self-explanatory, but I think I might have missed something.

I would call my writing style a bit minimalist. I tend to write with the idea that the reader will want to use their imagination to ‘see’ the story in their minds. I would much rather give too little detail than too much.

I’ve also read/heard that everyone sees characters differently. Too much description of what a character looks like could pull the reader out of the story. Again, I like to err on the side of too little.

Maybe that’s because I have read some books that are guilty of too much description. Usually, said books are massive volumes that threaten to collapse under their own weight much like a black hole and usually they are dull, dull, dull. No amount of great action and excellent plot can save them.

I want my books to be gripping, interesting and exciting. Hence, I avoid too much detail.

The problem is, one can go overboard on the minimalist approach. I received some much-needed feedback that my Fantasy novel is suffering in places from too little. The dialogue is fine and the action is appropriate to the story. The reader would like to be able to ‘see’ more of where the characters are and know, to some degree, what the characters look like. But how do I do it?

I know of several authors who are excellent at inserting that detail into the story without being obvious about it. Philippa Ballantine (www.pjballantine.com), author of ‘Chasing the Bard’ and ‘Digital Magic’ is one such author. I’ve got to sit down and study how authors like PipĀ  add that detail without stopping the story to insert it. If I can accomplish that, I know I’ll be onto something.

It’s a bit daunting, to be honest. I don’t want to take forever doing this and I want that additional detail to help build up the story. Now I’ve got to figure out how.

Personal Update

Nothing new to report. No book contracts (yet) and the Parsec Awards won’t be announced for another week-and-a-bit. Studying how to add the appropriate detail to my story and finishing a Halloween-themed piece of flash-fiction for a contest.



  1. Wow- thanks for the nice comment Michell. I think a few small details, a colour, a smell, a tiny observation can give a reader enough to paint the scene themselves. Remember all the other senses apart from sight.

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