We often think of description in pretty simple terms. How we are going to describe the physical appearance of our ancestor or the setting of the story. Description does cover those physical appearance elements. However, it also includes the other senses of sound, smell, touch, and taste. It can also include action both internal and external. Description is a tool we need to bring our ancestors, the setting and story into view. Description is detail and shows up in many places in our story.
For a great deal of the next 28 days, I will be helping you bring description to your family history writing. Why description? Description is an element many of us struggle with as new writers. It is a key factor that can help us turn our summaries into scenes, it can help us bring life to our stories, and it can transport our readers to another place and time. Description works in many ways, and it’s time to learn them so you can write engaging stories.
Our primary focus will be on how to use description in our family history stories and how we can make our description as interesting as possible.
A good description is lively, stimulating and energetic. A bad description is slow and boring. We tend to use a lot of bad description in our family history stories.
Often in family history writing, we like to pile in all the details, why, because we have them. Damn it! We’ve done the research and were including it. As writers we need to learn when to pull back, when to use particular descriptions and when to leave others out because they have no bearing on the story, they don’t serve a purpose.
A description is more than just describing your ancestor or the scenery. It is about providing a sensory experience for the reader. It’s about bringing the story alive. Here are a few ways we can use description.
Now, I hope description has a new meaning for you. It’s not just the colour of your grandmother’s eyes or the kitchen we find her in, it is a major component of your story and can be used in a variety of ways. It’s time to learn more about description, practice it and improve our family history stories.