During the second leg of my writing journey, I used to get slammed a lot for not including enough description in my stories. Back then I was skimpy on the description. White walls, bare floor, and maybe a piece of furniture skimpy. I write more description into my stories now, but still not a whole lot.
One reason is because I don’t like to read a lot of description. I have a decent imagination so don’t need a lot to ‘see’ what’s going on. Give me the basics and I’m good. Also, too much detail slows the flow of the story for me. Pulls me right out of the story.
Another reason is Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. The book was required reading in my high school English Lit class. Now, I liked the plot (I wanted Jane and Edward to get their freak on), but not all the description. My strongest memory of the book is a paragraph, a half page paragraph dedicated to describing a chair.
The other reason the description in my stories is not full bodied is because it’s a goal of mine to have a reader do more than just read my story. I want the reader to play a more active role in my story. To have some ownership of the story. I want my readers to not just be effected by my story, but to affect it.
To make this happen, I use what I call buffet style description. I provide a general (not generic) set up, basic description (the plate) to the reader, who will fill her plate with the various foods on the buffet according to her experiences, memories and preferences.
So how do you serve your description? How do you like your description served?