Day 15 – Clean Up the Description and Stage Direction

This is the continued saga of my foray into Janice Hardy’s Revise Your Novel in 31 Days at-home workshop (

Today’s lesson is to make sure my descriptions and stage directions are serving the story and not getting in its way. I will check to see if there is too much description or too little, whether it is clear, if my words are weak or vague, and if my stage directions (getting the characters from one place to another) contain awkward prose (such as too many steps describing everyday actions, such as logging onto the computer).

An interesting suggestion was to search for the word “try.” Our characters often ‘try’ to get up, ‘try’ to follow the path, etc., when in actuality they don’t “try,” they “do”. She gets up, he follows the path.

In Chapter 3, I added the descriptive phrase, “Though not used to the confinement of walls,” to show there were no man-made barriers in my protagonist’s world.

In Chapter 39, when an antagonist is confronted in front of a crowd, I showed the crowd restless beforehand to reflect the charged atmosphere.

In Chapter 42, I changed a sentence that said “she shook her head to try to dislodge the fog from her mind” to “she shook her head to dislodge the fog from her mind.”

Results: My enthusiasm continues to grow as my story takes shape. Taking these steps one at a time has tamped down my nervousness about revision and allowed me to enjoy the process.

Take-Away Value:

Continue to describe your scenes through your POV’s senses. Unlike a woman strolling with her lover in a beautiful park with colorful flowers during a stunning sunset, a woman escaping a rapist in the same location will only see potential weapons, scary shadows, and possible escape routes.

Don’t have your characters doing four things at once which require at least three hands. Don’t describe three steps to achieve something that could be described as well in one.

What about you? Do you tend to over-explain and over-describe, or do you struggle to get the picture in your mind on paper (or screen)? What has helped you overcome this problem?

See you on the next page.



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