Remember that novel you read awhile back — the one with three, four, five (seemingly endless) pages describing a room/field/plaza/whatever? Guh. Yeah, you remember. That may have been the point where you put the thing down. Maybe you never picked it back up.
That is exactly what can’t happen for the writer, and it was a danger mentioned several times at the retreat I spoke of in my last post. We’re talking about children’s books here. You know, shorter attention spans. Yes, adults too.
So the warning was put out by people in the know; people like Newbery Award winner Linda Sue Park, who spoke so well about story structure and style that she will merit her own post. That’s coming, but for descriptions and internal monologues, she says she tends to limit herself to a few paragraphs because any more kills the action (progress) in the scene.
Author and editor Ann Angel compared description to an actor on stage suspending the scene to address the audience directly, pulling their attention right out of the story.
No doubt description has its place. How else would a reader understand the author’s world? The description’s got to have relevance, though, and can’t drag on forever. As I don’t wish this post to drag forever, I’ll end here. More on the retreat soon.