Leonard a. Wronke Leonard a. Wronke
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should the word median be medium, instead. I know the both connotate a measure ... but I think medium is better. Only my opinion.

Don Yarber Don Yarber
Recommendations: 42

I chose Median because it is like a line drawn in the dirt when you tell a childhood friend, "Step over that line!" then when he steps over, you draw another line. Ha ha. In this case it represents a fine line between the two opposites.

Leonard a. Wronke Leonard a. Wronke
Recommendations: 23

your finger must have slipped here ...it is , of course, simile not semile.

Don Yarber Don Yarber
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You are absolutely spot on right. I changed it.

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Don Yarber Don Yarber
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The other side of being “Too Descriptive”

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If you like this, tell others, if you do not, tell me.

In a previous essay, I pointed out the faults of being “overscriptive” and making your readers lose track of where you want the story to go.

There is another side to that.   I call it “Underscriptive”.  (Another of my made up words.)

Sometimes it is necessary to describe something, it adds a little feeling to the action, instead of just action.  It creates a definite sense in the readers mind.  Such an example is found in one of my PI novels.  

“I knew as soon as I opened my door that something was wrong, but before I could think about it something hit the back of my head with the combined energy of a Hank Aaron homer and a double vodka martini on an empty stomach.”

In this paragraph, I have told the reader that I got banged on the noggin.  Is that enough?  Well, I decided to tell the reader what it felt like.  Like getting hit with a baseball bat (reference to Hank Aaron hitting a homerun)
And the immediate sick feeling in my stomach (reference to a double vodka martini on an empty stomach).

This descriptive passage is on the verge of being “overscriptive” but it serves a definite purpose.  It makes the reader realize how utterly helpless I was (I, being my protaganist) after being caught by surprise and getting bonked.

Although there are a lot of places where similes are absolutely necessary to make the story something other than a burned piece of toast, caution is still advised about “overscriptive” writing.

Similes are a writers friends.  Without them we would be helpless.  Our writing would not have any emotion, depth or feeling.  So the opposite of “overscriptive” is to be “underscriptive” and not have enough similes or descriptions in our writing.  The writer is not the best judge of finding a middle ground, of course.  That duty falls on the reader, and every reader is different.  That’s why every writer needs to use his own judgement as to exactly where the middle line should be drawn between “overscriptive” and “underscriptive”.

The key is to not let your similes grow into simile trees.

“The beautiful red rose was like a setting sun who’s spreading red rays were as bright as the sunfish swimming in a pool of water as deep as a hidden spring.”

That is overscriptive.

“The rose grew”.

That is underscriptive.

In the example above of “overscriptive” the simile grew into a tree, branching off into a new thought, a new stem, a new leaf, while the example of “underscriptive” is too blunt, too concise.  Too bland.

Find a happy median.  
“The house itself was built like a Mediterranean castle, not unlike the castle W. R. Hearst had built at San Simeon, but not as big.” (from the same PI novel)
That, in my humble opinion, is as good as it gets.  It describes the house without a lot of hoopla.  It is the median between being “overscriptive” and “underscriptive”. 3 comments

This article was written in an attempt to help writers who have a hard time with similes and descriptions.  If it helped you, that was my goal.  If it didn’t, hey, you’re probably way ahead of me. 2 comments

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