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Description (Elements of Fiction Writing) Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0898799088 ISBN-10: 0898799082 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: Elements of Fiction Writing
  • Paperback: 171 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books; 1st edition (July 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898799082
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898799088
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #189,724 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Description is most powerful when it's visible, aural, tactile. Make your descriptions fresh and they'll move your story forward, imbue your work with atmosphere, create that tang of feeling that editors cry for and readers crave. Monica Wood helps you squeeze the greatest flavor from the language. She segments description like an orange, separating its slices to let you sample each one.

You'll learn about:

- Detail, and how you can use description to awaken the reader's senses of touch, taste, hearing, smell and sight

- Advancing story using only relevant description--and how to edit out sluggish, reader-stopping writing

- Style, and the use of description to create a mood that matches your story's content

- Point of view --how selecting omniscient, first person or third person limited narrative influences the descriptive freedom you have

- Creating original word depictions of people, animals, places, weather and movement

Wood teaches by example, developing stories with characters in various situations, to show you how you can apply description techniques.

You'll also see samples of work by such noted writers as Mark Helprin, Anne Tyler and Raymond Carver. And you'll find the dos and don'ts, lists and descriptive alternatives to common verbs and nouns, and tips for editing your work.

About the Author

Monica Wood is the author of the novel Secret Language. Her frequently anthologised short stories have appeared in such publications as Redbook, The North American Review, Yankee, Tampa Review and Manoa. Her stories have been read on public radio, nominated for the National Magazine Award, and given special mention in the Pushcart Prize. A native of western Maine, she now lives in Portland.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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One can always learn more.
Martijn13Maart1970
Wood shows how to use all of the senses in your descriptions to make your reader feel as though he/she were there.
chemikalguy
I found her style to be very readable, sometimes funny, informative, and easy to comprehend.
J. Foster

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 48 people found the following review helpful By chemikalguy on July 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is one of those books that people don't really think they need, until they pick up a copy and start flipping through it. Description is one of the most fundamental things a writer has to do, yet so many people who write do it poorly.
Monica Wood takes the idea of description, and makes it an easy to use 'technique' in your writing. This is a necessary guide for all of us who like to write. The idea of show, don't tell, is pushed here, but not to the point of being obnoxious. Wood shows how to use all of the senses in your descriptions to make your reader feel as though he/she were there. That's key. 'A big, red house..' isn't description. ...a house the color of dried blood, with a roofline so tall that the clouds seemed to have to part to get around the peak..' now that's description!
I have a few reference, or technique books on my shelf, and this one is one that I open most often. I want to make sure my readers understand where they are and what they're seeing, smelling, and feeling in the story. This book teaches the reader how to do just that.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By book lover on June 7, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
**Summary: Description is a great book for the aspiring author who has already studied Stein on Writing or Self-Editing for Fiction Writers

I've read many books on writing novels, books that pound in messages like show-don't-tell and avoid flashbacks like the plague. Stein on Writing and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers were great books for me when I was writing my first manuscript - and I still refer to them regularly - but now I want to advance my writing further.

Description is great for that. Instead of saying "Show-don't-tell," description teaches methods for creating a balance between showing and telling. While Wood doesn't recommend using flashbacks, like most other books, she provides tools to make flashbacks more seamless. I like her balanced approach, and I consider this a great book for the slightly more advanced author.

I only gave this book four stars because I didn't think that the examples she used were the epitome of great writing, but her examples always got her point across.
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50 of 54 people found the following review helpful By J A W on July 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
A man building his own coffin is," this is one of the examples of wisdom in Monica Wood's book. Much of this material is common sense, if you think about it, but Wood puts it into words that help us think through our own thoughts. She asks us to focus our descriptive style through character, and relate how the scenes and settings impact the characters or are how they are interpreted by the characters. Make the metaphors and adjectives character inspired, not author inspired.
She organizes her book around chapters that deal w/ Description in relation to Dialogue, Forward Motion, Point of View, ect, so this would be a handy resource to pull off the shelf if you are stuck in any given scene, and you want advice for better ways to convey the characters and to move the plot. She gives examples of good description and bad description, and if you're like me, you'll cringe reading the bad examples because they look so familair in my own writing. The only reason I don't give it five stars is I would have liked to have seen more descriptive examples from different genres, instead of incessant "modern-era Great American novel" type of prose. Some addenums on science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, historical fiction, would have helped.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By E. Lores on July 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is well organized, easy to read, and gives very good insight and techniques for a better description. But it isn't the best book on this subject because it is too short and ignores or touches lightly some parts of the descriptive projects.
Buy it only if you want a slightly look at description, for a deeper analysis and more serious aproach, try "Word Painting", wich is much better.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
I've read all the books in the Elements of Fiction Writing series and this is how I'd rank them.
"Scene & Structure" "Characters & Viewpoint" "Beginnings, Middles & Ends"
The above three books are invaluable -- must reads. They are the best of the series, in my opinion, and are packed with good information on every page. Well-done.
"Conflict, Action & Suspense" "Description" "Plot" "Manuscript Submission" "Setting"
The above five books are good, solid reads. Again, they contain good information and cover the subject decently.
"Voice & Style" "Dialogue"
To me, the last two books need to be rewritten. They are by far the weakest of the series. Both suffer from an annoying style, particularly Dialogue, and both are very skimpy on real information. Neither one is very helpful.
This is the order in which I'd recommend reading them.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Susan J. Reinhardt on October 27, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As someone who enjoys feeling as if I'm part of the story, I found this book to be a very detailed, very informative how-to. Through extensive examples, Wood leads the writer through the pitfalls and the perks of using description. If you've already read other books on the subject, you will find some things repeated here, but take a look anyway. By choosing passages to make a point or by rewriting a passage several times, Wood's view is inciteful and fresh. As a fiction writer myself I would strongly recommend it to any one who wants to bring their world to life.
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