Writing Wednesday: In which I’m blind, stubborn or stupid!

Okay, so the revelation that I’m likely the World’s Least Observant Human Being isn’t new. If I don’t wave to you when our cars meet on the road it isn’t because I’m a snob. It’s because I don’t see you. I won’t notice your new haircut–sometimes even if you chopped off twenty-seven inches and dyed it bright pink–and don’t ask me what my kids are wearing. Heck, I don’t know what I’m wearing unless I look down to check. (Striped jammies and a fleece, for the record.)

I’m not being rude.

Sadly, however, this trait plagues me in my writing. Two separate editors in the past two weeks have begged for more description in my manuscripts. And they’re not the first ones.

  • “Give me more detail.”
  • “What does the room look like?”
  • “I don’t quite see the garden.”

I suppose this recurring mantra means I’m simply stubborn in that I refuse to accommodate the continued request for more. Except that I do try. I actually do. And when I complete a  new manuscript, I’m like, “Hey, compared to what I usually write, this stuff is drowning in visual detail.”

Inevitably, however, I hear the same-old, same-old. “What does this look like?”

To which my soul screams, “I don’t know what your imagination is showing you, but my imaginary garden is filled with bright bursts of orange, yellow and red. I mean, I said ‘the garden was abloom’, isn’t that good enough?”

As a writer, I don’t care if your garden matches mine. Feel free to plant as much pink as you want. Add a tree or two if necessary and a statue of a frog in a hammock or those crazy little fisher people with no pond under their rods. I honestly don’t care how my readers fill in the blanks, because if a detail is important, I’ll add it. If I need you to know that there’s a tree in the garden, I’ll tell you. And then you can color the leaves in to be a maple, a linden, an elm, oak, cottonwood, pine–whatever your imagination desires.

“Uhm, yeah, not good enough.” Or so I’ve heard.

Which means, maybe I am stupid. Maybe I’m incapable of understanding that everyone else doesn’t fill in the blanks as readily as I do. Or that readers like to be led to an amazing discovery step by step, flower by flower and tree by tree.

Blind, stubborn or stupid? Or maybe a bit of all three!

What writing issues plague you? What do your betas typically comment on when reading your manuscripts? And how do you fix these issues the first time around?

Curious minds want to know.

P.S. I do go back in and add detail. Just not too much. After all, I wouldn’t want anyone to start skipping passages!




6 responses to “Writing Wednesday: In which I’m blind, stubborn or stupid!

  1. Joeleen Ann Osborn Krier

    I find it hard to believe you have a lack of detail tendency based on the content of this blog… hmmm… perhaps we can trade maladies as I tend to over – detail…

    • I would give anything to read your over-detailed writing, my dear. I miss you so much! Hope everything is going well for you in your new community, marriage and life adventures.


  2. Sorry, you are not the least observant person around. That’s my privilege. My first (unasked for, volunteer, and awesome) beta reader clued me in in no uncertain terms. That was four novels ago, and I’m still trying to remember that my characters don’t live in a vacuum. I’m getting better at it in my writing, but not in real life.

  3. we’re very much alike, in person and in writing! 😉
    I also found lots of writers and writer/editor (the worst… IMHO!) who keep asking “describe!” even for the stupidest thing. It’s a room. A bedroom. Just imagine your own. If there’s some special feature, I’ll let you know. If not, I won’t waste words to describe.
    As a reader I hate writers who over describe everything. I can’t “see” anything and skip passages of description – I have my own idea anyway. Who cares if the character has blue or green eyes, unless it’s a very specific color for a very specific reason (like the Genn-green eyes, which mean they’re really emerald-green, inhuman eyes, LOL).
    I also do go back and add details – if I really totally forgot the setting (sometimes I’m so engrossed in my characters conversations I forget to mention where they are and what they’re doing, LOL!). Otherwise take it or leave it, babe! 🙂

    • Glad I’m not the only one who has these writing problems. I’m working really hard to find that balance!

      Let me know when you figure it out and we can do it together.

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