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How much description is too much description in YA?
Lucy Basey
Posted: Friday, May 8, 2015 7:47 AM
Joined: 4/23/2015
Posts: 38

Hi all,

I write a lot of YA, therefore I read a lot of YA. What I find is that in some YA books there is masses of description, from the scene to characters, to their clothes, to their music tastes while in others, I find virtually no description at all.


I've often heard that in YA, less can sometimes be more, that some teen readers will gloss over the description. Now, I know that I definitely need more description in my opening chapters, as there is hardly any at all, and that can't be good for painting a picture of, well, anything. But I've just sat down to start getting the scene in my head down on paper and I've found myself staring down at a page full of scribbles, because I want to prioritise the descriptions a teen reader would want to know.


I normally choose not to describe my main character, I like the idea of my reader imagining himself or herself in the same position as my MC and I sometimes feel that if I were to describe my main character as being a slim, hourglass shaped, ivory skinned flawless beauty, with luscious long auburn locks that my reader could feel alienated quickly, because who looks in the mirror and thinks that sort of thing about themselves? Also, on the other hand, if I were to point out each and every one of my MC's least favourite parts of their body and face, the MC might be pictured as a complete hideous beast, and the very idea of someone of the opposite sex being attracted to them (my novels normally have an element of romance) would be hard to comprehend. So I leave the description of my MC (almost) completely up to my reader.


So, aside from main character descriptions, what do you all choose to include, and just how much is too much in terms of description?

Amber Wolfe
Posted: Friday, May 8, 2015 8:40 AM

Hmm, that's a tough question you ask, Lucy.


Though I don't read much YA, myself, I'd think that you'd have to go with your heart on this one. Maybe gather a bunch of YA books and go through the specifically seeking their balance of description.


Of course, you could always get a teen to read your descriptions for you, and get their opinions.


Sorry I'm not much help. As a Fantasy writer, description is really important. I have to describe the world, describe my characters, describe the enemies, describe the creatures in my world, describe the situation they're facing, all without going off and writing twelve pages of description in one sitting. Too little confuses the reader. Too much bores them. As for YA reading teenagers? I've no clue how much description would bore them, or what description is right to include.


Sorry again.



Lucy Basey
Posted: Friday, May 8, 2015 9:00 AM
Joined: 4/23/2015
Posts: 38

It must be difficult to get a balance of action and description in fantasy. I'm working on an urban fantasy when time allows. I've dug it out after years of ignoring it, and I'm dreading getting round to those descriptive scenes, because so much needs to change.

Yes, getting a teen to read it is a good idea, but I'm a closet writer, so not many teens to go to. Looks like I may have to reveal my hobby to a couple more people! (I might see if my nephew will take a read, but he's a little younger than my target readership and is the sort that might find the task I set him more like homework than leisure...haha, we'll see)

Thanks, Amber.


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