Description

Diana GabaldonDiana Gabaldon is a famous writer in the United States. She’s always on the bestseller list. Every year, when she comes to the Surrey International Writers’ Conference http://www.siwc.ca/ she dedicates one morning to talk to the guys in prison. After her talk this year, one of the men asked her about dialogue. She told the young man she would send him something she had at home that might help him. And she would also send him the talk she gave at the conference.

She promised to send it to me and I would give it to the man.

I sneaked a look at it before I turned it over. One section about description was very helpful to me. Here it is:

Don’t write paragraphs that contain nothing but description.

actionYou can redeem a whole paragraph of description dialoguewith ONE sentence of ACTION or DIALOGUE.

Example:

The house felt strangely empty round him, as he paused just inside the kitchen door.  He was standing in the back hall, the pantry to one side, the scullery to the other, and the main kitchen just beyond.  He stood stock-still, reaching out with all his senses, listening as he inhaled the overpowering smells of the house.  No, there was someone here; the faint sound of a scrape, followed by a soft, regular clinking came from behind the cloth-padded door that kept the heat of the kitchen from seeping out into the chilly back pantry.

Thanks, Diana. Learning to write goes on forever – I’d never heard this idea before and I find it very helpful. This is just one sample of the great material she sent the young man. She cares about writers. She’s giving back to the community or paying it forward as some would say.

Images courtesy of:

  • doney.net
  • boomerwarrior.blogspot.com
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