Cómo escribir ficción

How to write fiction deciding how much to describe

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There are descriptions more detailed than others. An editor I’ve read in LinkedIn is of the opinion that some are quite boring since they’re too long. But there are… those too short as well to stablish a mood or a character.

I know this petty problem won’t scare the comic drawer; they laugh it since they only draw the character. Script writers might despair torn between the wish to detail and the imperious need to give room to reality to settle among fiction. After all, they can’t choose the casting and describing too much backfires for reality has much more options where to choise from.

So, to business Chencha.

A weak stroke in a book, a faint one in a new book and Montalbano still keeps his hair, is slim and sports a mustache. What colour are his eyes? Is he tall? All that, was left to reader’s imagination by Camilleri. Given chances, the reader resisted the urge to watch the TV series. Otherwise, their imagination has been destroyed and given way to what the screen has shown to us. My Catarella was anything but fat.

A few brush strokes are enough to paint a “happy accident” over the white canvas of our minds.

Contrarily, J. Ward’s vampires are super tall, muscle fib as wrestlers whose dumb bells fell into their T’s 0 (for disambiguation, you can take a look at many ML of romantic webtoons or BL such as My omega leader nim or Marry my husband), they possess a savage rage against thir enemies but are such cotton dabs to their “females” or “males[1]”  — J. Ward is an inclusive writer thus she has created hetero and gay vampires. They sport long har, favolous golden locks, multicoloured ones, buzz cuts. Amen of being blessed with fantastically hued eyes from white to Bahamas blue or two shades at the same time. All these details and we may get a robot portray in a local police station…. Any other country, but mine.


Overviewed and at first sight. It might seem the descriptive overflow is related to author’s gender. Until we meet Anette Levy-Willard. Or John Updike. Updike is capable of describing autumm’s colours in chemical terms and creates characters of weight, manias, hands and feet so artfully detailed, we almost touch them. And he ain’t as graphic as Ward.

Whilst Levy-Willard in Me Jane, looks Tarzan drives us as gracefully but without as many visual details. Light strokes here and there such as; the petite French one of beautiful breasts. Anything else? No more than the same French one being short sighted and that only tells me she must have slightly puffed eyes[2].


No… Maybe. Hemingway didn’t describe with the lush of anatomical details in his stories. However, forcing my memory to remind The old and the sea, I believe that of the old man he truly does a more accurate graphic description and over all, an emotional state portray. Maria Louise Ascott, Jean Webster… Though the details, their descriptions are not good enough for the robot portrait. They are, Bob Roses of imagination, too.

Overflowing of description might be taken as a byproduct of young adult’s literature as Vampire diaries[3]. Mario Puzo describes more than a secondary character as if they were main ones in an environmental display which takes you to criminal world as per exterior features. All of these authors are American.

Judith Kerr, Christine Nöstlinger are more economical towards character description. Humberto Eco describes deeply and profusely the surroundings but stills keeps this elegant minimalism about character’s details. But them… are European.


I guess this sounds a lot like Hamlet’s dilemma. If we kill the assassin at the prayer, he’ll go to heaven and his crime will remain unpunished. So we need to wait for the proper moment. So long we prevent the revenge business to go wrong.

I mean, don’t describe when the action or the imagination count more than the detail or the party will sink. And this is not a rule, more like a general idea because who knows how to get that balance if not the experienced writer?

Are you stingy with descriptions or are you extra generous?

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[1] Don’t look at me. The writer herself pigeonholes it as a result of the “biology” she invented for these novels. And, given this is erotic feminine lit, we can’ really demand a lot. No one demands too much from “Playboy”, do we?

[2] It seems us very shortsighted can not oly suffer a cornea detachment if we were to practice bungee jumping but as a result of morphologic features we also own protuberant yes. Which doesn’t make us Simpson’s relatives.

[3] This of the Vampire Diaries reminds me of the entry Unbelievable. Because in the fifteen inutes I managed to stand of the TV series —capital sin, I love vampires (I’m a fan of Underworld) — everybody in the main character’s classroom is so good looking — teacher included —, they might had been super selective to collect as many guys who wouldn’t require an extra sized pair of jeans; neither girls pretty enough to be Miss Highschool pageant to say the least. Where is the talent? Ah. Being beautiful is a talent since it takes keeping yout mouth closed in front of chocolate bars and exercise like 10 hours a day. No kidding. I DON’T have such a talent.  I’d chow down the chocolate bar and the most I exercise is ten minutes a day which is better tha none (what I used to before). On the other side, it keeps you from developing DIFFERENT talents.

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