Say it’s hot out one more time…

When we write our first draft, we tend to describe things by instinct. We say whatever seems obvious as we imagine the scene, but this can create repetitive writing. If our story takes place in a heat wave, we want to remind the reader of the heat, but don’t let it dominate. This is a good thing to look out for when you’re editing. Read through your draft and note what you describe. Do you keep mentioning how dusty the environment is? Is the sunlight filtering through the windows at a regular interval? Pick the top three things you describe, and highlight them.

Here’s an example from one of my drafts. I created a ‘key’ and color-coded them.

This is when the character first arrives at the location, so obviously I will want to hit these important descriptors.

But I need to watch how often I return to it, particularly as the story goes on. Try mixing up how you remind the reader. If it’s cold, have a character shiver and put on a sweater indoors, have them wince about putting their bare feet on the floor, have them hurry to the bathroom and let the shower run for a few minutes before they can stand getting undressed. The grass can sparkle with frost, icicles can drip down from the roof, trees can crackle as they move in the wind. This is more interesting and evocative than just saying ‘it’s cold’ for the 100000th time.

A companion piece about description will come shortly! Also, I’ve been fixing up my Tumblr and recreating my previous posts. You can follow me there for updates, though I still find WordPress to be the best reading experience.

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