Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Two Line Tuesday: Writing Description

I discovered a book called The Physician's Tale last week, downloaded a sample for my Kindle and liked it so I bought a copy and I've been reading it at every opportunity. (I don't have as much reading time as I used to.)

The Physician's Tale defies easy categorization. It's part medical thriller, part historical novel and part science fiction dystopia. There are two physicians, both fighting separate plagues: one in the 14th century and the other in an unspecified time in the 21st c. Janie, the modern doctor, is aware of Alejandro, the 14th c. man, because of finding his diary.

Benson immediately hooked me with her first two sentences:

"It was the first spring after the long, hard winter that marked the second coming of the called DR SAM. The sun was April bright, but the wind seemed stuck in March; it roared down the mountainside with the ferocity of a lion, blowing ripples on the surface of the river's fast-moving waters."

My first thought was, "my, this woman can write"!

It turns out this is the last book of a series, but it stands well alone. The plot is too complicated to explain here, but I'm finding it all quite engrossing. The first book in the serious is, apparently, The Plague Tales: A Novel. I've reserved a copy from the public library since it's not available electronically.

Now for two lines I've written, this time from my Regency romance, Lady Elinor's Escape.

"Lady Elinor Ashworth stared out the window of her bedchamber at acres of farmland sprouting new growth. Spring green brightened the vista, taunting her with the promise of freedom."

Writing good description is tough and something I continually work on. Does good description come easily to you or is it something you struggle with, too?

Linda / Lyndi


Clare2e said...

Pre-modern to post modern plagues sandwiching a Regency! Such diverse 2 X 2's, Linda! Thanks for sharing!

Linda McLaughlin said...

Thanks, Clare. Glad you enjoyed the post!


Travis Erwin said...

Good lines. Sometimes description comes easier for me and other times I notice that I've drifted away from it so it is something I have to constantly watch for in my writing.

Linda McLaughlin said...

I know what you mean, Travis. I think description is one of the easiest things to forget about. I have to pay attention to it, too.


pattinase (abbott) said...

The problem for me with description is not going overboard with it. I grew up in an era with lots of it in novels and cannot always see that it's dating my writing.

Anonymous said...

I love your first lines, Linda. I want to know why freedom taunts your heroine.

With description, I find there's a fine line between stirring the senses and sensory overload. I do love writing it, though. If I feel anchored in the story, I think my readers will, too. However, I want them anchored, not drowned. lol. I find a break from the work then a re-read quickly distinguishes the "done" from the "over-done".


Rhonda said...

I have trouble with good description, too. Finding the balance between "enough" and "too much" can be tough, especially when you're introducing a reader to an unfamiliar world.

Linda McLaughlin said...

Patti, I agree books now have a lot less description than they did, say, 20 years ago. A function of our shorter attention span perhaps?

Debbie and Rhonda, good points about the fine line between enough and too much description.


Moyna said...

Good post.