Timely description

I’m not a person who needs a lot of description, you tell me I’m on an island and I’ll create an island in my mind. If that island needs to be so large you can’t see from one end to the other and it is edged in cliffs, you need to tell me that. I was seeing a small sandy island with a few coconut trees.

The same goes for people. If a character’s vivid green eyes are going to star in chapter three, I need to know about them in chapter one, or else my character is likely to have different coloured eyes. The moment you tell me a character is called Sally, I build a fully formed picture in my mind of what Sally looks like. So if you need something on or about Sally, tell me about it up front.

That is as far as I go when it comes to description requirements. If Sally can look like anything, and you never mention her flowing blonde hair, or penchant for wearing cowboy boots somewhere later in the book, I’ll be happy if you just tell me her name is Sally. I do like to hook an age on her, but if you don’t give me one I’ll just assume she’s my age.

This is also how I write, and it gets me into trouble. I know a lot of readers out there want to know not only what the characters look like, but what they wear and even how they do their hair. You won’t get that from my stories unless it is relevant. Not only is that because I think clothes and hairstyles can date a story, but I think this unique picture is what the reader brings to the story, making them a part of it. It adds to what makes reading the book better than watching the movie.