|Sweet Historical Romance|
WISH FOR THE MOON
North Texas 1901
Why am I writing about this boring topic? Lately, more lavish description than is needed or wanted seems to be creeping in some fiction. While our writing instructors tell us “less is more,” and encourage us to omit descriptive phrases, we still feel compelled to endlessly describe.
“Her lovely eyes resembled pieces of emerald, shadowed by long, lush lashes, set in an alabaster face worthy of the most beautiful of angels.” (I made that up.)
First of all, this passage must be from the Hero’s POV. How many men do you know, or have ever existed had thoughts like this? A cowboy might think, “Her eyes sure were pretty, sort of green.” A modern man might say this: “Her eyes were so pretty, I wish I had the words to describe them.”
AVOID detailed descriptions of characters. Elmore Leonard in his Ten Rules of Writing, says, In Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” what do the “American and the girl with him” look like? “She had taken off her hat and put it on the table.” That’s the only reference to a physical description in the story, yet we see the couple and know them by the tones of voice, with not one adverb in sight.
However, I need some description of the characters in some manner, or none at all. Why? Because I visualize the characters, and unless I have a clue early on I’ll paint a picture of them myself. If an author waits until about the fourth or fifth chapter to finally let me know the girl is petite, buxom, with coal-black hair hanging almost to her waist, I might have her pictured her as tall, lithe, and blond. By that time I have so much invested in my version, the author’s description makes me irritable.
AVOID great detailed descriptions of places and things. We don’t need to impress our readers with the beauty of our story setting. If we go on and on about it, heaping up adjectives and adverbs along the way, we run the risk of losing our readers because they have become weary and slammed the book shut.
Again, as a reader I do need to know in some creative way the surroundings or setting of the novel.
Now that I’ve offered this advice, I’m still in the process of “how much description is too much.” Or maybe I should be learning how to include my descriptions without listing everything in one paragraph.
In Wish for the Moon (1901), Max Garrison wanders to the McGinnis farm. There he meets the family, especially young, pretty Annie, complete with a few descriptions.
When alone, Max walked to the spreading shade tree by the house and sat so he could lean back on the trunk. He lifted his hat and repositioned it to cover his eyes. Then he crossed his arms over his full stomach, let out a huge sigh, and fell sound asleep.
After some time, he didn’t know how long, he opened his eyes because he could feel a presence like somebody watched him and maybe waited near him. There sat the little blonde girl, except on close-up inspection, she was just about grown, maybe sixteen, seventeen years old. She sat cross-legged right beside him so he could easily touch her if he reached out. But he didn’t; he just waited, until she did something instead of sitting there, studying him.
“Hi, there,” she said, in a sweet sounding voice, sort of like water gurgling and sliding over smooth rocks—that swooshing, humming sound a person never gets tired of. “What are you doing here? I’ve never seen you around here before. Are you from over to Granbury? Or maybe Mineral Wells or Dublin?”
“Uh-uh. I’m from nowhere,” he said without grinning or anything. “I’m just a wanderer.”
“Why? Because I don’t have a real home, that’s why,” he answered. He never took his eyes off her big, pretty, blue ones, a little turned down at the corners, and framed all around with dark-brown lashes.
“Everybody has a home, don’t you know that? Except maybe those hoboes that stay over yonder under the railroad trestle. Are you from over there?”
“Nope.” He shook his head and chuckled a little at her persistence and curiosity. “Aren’t you afraid of me?”
“Why should I be?” she asked with a mock frown. “Are you a crook who robbed a bank, or a bootlegger who runs whiskey, or maybe you’re just a no-account bum?”
Now her face split into the widest grin that made his cold empty heart jump to life. More than anything right now, he wanted her to keep smiling at him.
“Nah,” she answered her own question, “you’re too nice looking to be a bad person. I bet you’re really a rich man who’s just having a good time wandering about letting somebody else take care of all his money, or maybe a famous doctor who left a good-paying hospital so you could rest from all the pressure of saving people and all that operating and stuff. Or I bet you—”
Max’s laughter cut her off. She sat real still and watched him laugh aloud, studying his one slightly crooked eyetooth on the left side. He said, “Yeah, I just bet you think all that. But you don’t really know, now, do you?” Max’s voice lost all trace of the laughter, and he solemnly gazed at her prettiness.
WISH FOR THE MOON: Coming Soon from Willow Moon Publishing.
Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas