Description is like a newborn; you have to nurse it. Find your balance. Shift weight as you navigate through various narrative voices. To intrigue and to inform, but not bore, your readers. It's an art, in and of itself.
"It's all in the details," is a common phrase paired with description. I agree. Additionally, though, it's about the big picture. The balance, as I stated above. And when it comes to balances, to popular sayings, I also think of:
"Show, Don't Tell." For those unfamiliar, it is essentially when a writer tells the readers something rather than showing it to them. To paint the picture: telling is, "The temperature rose throughout the day," where showing is, "Her skin, slick with sweat, shined under the hot sun."
Like Nature VS. Nurture, this concept is a hot debate. Too much telling is boring. Too much showing drags the reader on, which is, again, boring. Of course, both of these have exceptions. Two weeks ago, in my Intermediate Writing: Fiction course, I read a short story from a fellow classmate in which the majority of the narration featured showing. Had the description not been rich (in diction and cultural references), or the protagonist - also the narrator - not been portrayed as a primarily passive character, his writing would have flopped. But it didn't. It worked.
As I said before, you have to shift the weight of your description as you navigate through various narrative voices. Some characters are more analytical, where the telling will be stronger than the showing. Other characters, of varying backgrounds and personalities, will lean more towards showing instead.
The scale will always be tipped, in one direction or the other, but there will always be a combination, a careful balance, between the two. Years ago, I read an article on this debate, and the writer - whose name escapes me - had devised a sort of precise code for herself. A few bits of showing, maybe two or three details, before being broken up by a piece of telling. She argued that this would keep the readers interested, advance the plot, and further create the setting/characters while imparting valuable information.
In my first article, I mentioned that every writer has their own journey. The statement applies here, as well. Certainly, because the World of Writing is so vast, similarities can be found across the board when it comes to writing styles. However, the balance of their description is always different. Unique to them, their story, and their characters.
Please, share your thoughts with us below! What's your take on the "Show, Don't Tell" topic? And if there is any topic or subject you would like to see discussed, please don't be shy!