Quick Links: 5 Tips for Empowering Description with Contrast

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They say that descriptions are boring, and I will admit there have been times I have skimmed over a few paragraphs by some very good writers, just to get to the good bits.  But only if I feel that the extra text really isn’t necessary for the story. Marcy Kennedy gets it. In her post on Jami Gold‘s site, Mary gives some really great tips on how to make descriptions more entertaining and part of the story.

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5 Tips for Empowering Description with Contrast — Guest: Marcy Kennedy

by Jami Gold

When contrast is done well, it can be very interstesting
When contrast is done well, it can be very interesting.

June 16, 2016

We’ve probably all heard (or thought!) that description is boring. The part readers skip.

There’s no question that description has a bad reputation. Yet if we’ve ever read a story without enough description and been lost at what was happening or who was doing what, we know that description is essential to clearly showing events in our story to readers.

When I first started writing, I struggled with description, mostly by including way too much of it. Pages and pages. *smile*

I eventually learned how to balance description and use it to anchor readers in a character’s point of view. However, there’s another way to make description work harder for our story, and that’s by using contrast to create more powerful and interesting descriptions.

Luckily for us, editor-author Marcy Kennedy is here with us today to give us the scoop and share five methods to empower our description with contrast. Please welcome Marcy Kennedy! *smile*


The Power of Contrast in Description

Readers need description to help them imagine the story world and to keep them grounded in the story, but often it’s considered the slow, boring part.

It doesn’t have to be.

Done right, description keeps the pace moving and brings out our point-of-view character’s emotions, backstory, and conflicts. It can also add subtext, foreshadow, and build on the theme.

One of my favorite ways to bring description to life and make sure it serves a bigger purpose in the story is to use contrast. I’m excited Jami welcomed me back to share with all of you how to make this work.

All of these tips work best—in my opinion—when we write in a limited point of view because it’s our point-of-view character who’s making the comparison. The description filters through them and is colored by who they are. (Though I’m sure you omniscient writers could adapt many of these techniques as well.)

Tip #1: Contrast What the POV Character Expected with What They Experience

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