In the previous sections, we have scene that a novel is split into two key elements:

  1. Narrative summary.
  2. Dialogue.
We have seen that dialogue is split into speech and beats. However, we have not fully examined narrative summary.

What we do know is that narrative summary contains the narrative voice and internal dialogue but there’s one final element to consider.

The narrative summary is split into:

  1. The narrator’s commentary (if relevant).
  2. Internal dialogue (if relevant)
  3. Description of characters, locations, events, actions, and emotions.

If writing in any viewpoint, other than third person objective, the narrator may well be adding their own commentary to the events that are being described. They may also be expressing the internal dialogue of the character or characters. However, in ALL viewpoints the narrator will also be describing the characters, locations, events, actions and emotions that are occurring. The role of the writer (via the narrator) is to present this description in such a way that the reader is able to paint a clear picture in their mind’s eye.

In this section, we will look at the role of description as an element of your novel. We well learn the four types of description and see how these can be used to paint a picture for your reader.

Once you have completed this section you’ll have a deeper understanding of description, you’ll discover the four types of description and you’ll learn how much description should be used in any given situation.

Types of Description

Not all description is created equal.

There are four types of description:

  1. Location description.
  2. Character description.
  3. Action description.
  4. Emotion description.

Location description is the description of places. Remember, you are trying to paint a picture in the mind of the reader. This means that all locations require some level of description. This can vary from the interior of a car, to a simple room, to a vast alien landscape.

Character description is simply what characters look like. Not all characters will need detailed descriptions, but you will need to give every character enough description for your reader to form a mental image.

Action description is the words you use to describe what your characters are doing. This might be dialing a number on a phone or flying a plane. The context of the action will dictate the level of description required.

Emotion description is probably the only one of the four that raises an eyebrow. We must avoid telling readers the way a character is feeling. This means we can’t say, “John was sad.” Instead, we must describe John being sad, hence emotion description. This is the big one.

Location Description

It is essential, as your reader progresses through the world you create, that the reader is able to consistently create a mental image of the scenes you are describing. The reader will be constantly painting a mental picture of the locales you describe; it is, therefore, essential you provide enough detail for the reader to paint a clear picture.

At all times your reader will be creating an image in his or her mind. The reader will create this image independent of your input. They will be desperately scrambling for clues about the world your characters occupy and putting them together to create an image. It is up to you to control this image. In fact, one of the key roles when self-editing is to ensure that the writer is providing a consistent picture.

You will need to constantly address the descriptions of your locations and characters, so the reader is able to create an accurate picture. This concept produces a simple rule:

If the location changes, you need new description.

The problem that often arises has nothing to do with the timing of the description but the amount of description that is needed, which will vary from a simple the bare room to paragraphs of detailed prose.

This is not as complex as it sounds. To help you understand, here are the two situations in which you will need to add location description:

  • If a character enters a new location.
  • If a current location physically changes (it may start raining or a train may pull up to a station platform).
In short, change needs description.As an editor, you should be aware of when a location change occurs. This should be accompanied by appropriate description. If the description is lacking, you need to be flagging it up for the writer to expand.

Let’s look at some common examples:

If a character is in a new location, then you need to add a description of that new location. If a character moves from Location A to Location B, you must describe B. If you fail to describe a new location, the reader loses the mental picture and quickly becomes confused. For example, if your main character was sitting in a dining room, but then gets up and moves to the kitchen, you would need to add description of the kitchen.

The question is: how much description? The answer depends on the importance of the location.

This is the key concept to location description.

The importance of the location dictates the amount of description. If the location is important, then you need to include a significant amount of description. If the location is trivial, then the description will be minimal.

This means that you will be creating, as needed, paragraphs of description as well as simple phrases, such as ‘the woods’. It all depends on context. What you choose to classify as important and trivial is up to you.

As an editor, you should be consistently assessing the level of description required at any given moment. There are two ways this can be done. The first is to pay attention to location changes and then just check each time one occurs. The second is more of a gut feel. The moment you are unable to clearly picture a scene in your mind’s eye, you must stop and back track. Look at the previous paragraphs and ask yourself where you lost the thread. Look for location changes. Once you have found the stop the description slipped, flag it up for the reader to expand the description.

This still leaves the issue of the level of description required. Here are a few “rules of thumb”:

  • If more than one scene occurs in a certain location, then that location is important.
  • If only one scene occurs in a location, but that scene is either essential to the plot or the location itself is an important element (e.g., edge of a cliff for a fight scene), then the location is important.
  • If one scene occurs in one location, and the location is not relevant to the scene (it could be any old street), then the location is trivial.
  • If the scene is a traveling scene only, that is, getting a character from one location to another (think inside of a plane), then the location is trivial.

Let’s first look at the level of description for an important location.

For example, if you are writing a story about a man stuck in a prison cell, then the cell is an important location (there will be more than one scene in this location, plus the cell is an important part of the scene) and will need a chunk of description, probably a couple of paragraphs. There will necessarily be a number of scenes set in this location, and it is, therefore, an important backdrop for your story.

How you present this description will also depend on the context of the location. If the location is important but will only contain one scene or two, then you will get away with dumping the description into one or two paragraphs. However, if the location is important AND will be the location for multiple scenes, then you need a far more detailed description. However, you will not want to dump a massive section of description, and, therefore, you’ll be spreading it out over a number of pages.

This leaves you with two choices:

  1. Add all the description in one go.
  2. Spread it out.

This isn’t really a one-time decision, each scene within each story will help you decide. Let’s look in a little more detail.

  • If the location will be used in just one scene, then add the description at the start of the scene in one chunk.
  • If the location will be used in more than one scene, then you need to take a different approach. In this situation, you start with a significant description, probably a single paragraph. Then, as the scenes progress, you layer in more description, one line at a time.

Let’s look at an example …

Our main character has been captured and placed in a cell. He will escape at the end of the scene, and that’s the last the reader will see of the cell. However, even though the prison cell is only used in this one scene, it is still an important location and a significant plot point and is worthy of significant description.

In this situation, you present the description in a couple of paragraphs:

The cell was a small, perfectly square room, about six foot in height with each wall no more than four feet in length. A single window, also perfectly square, was halfway up one wall and let in a small amount of light, though blocked by a grill. The only other source of light was a single bulb that hung from the center of the ceiling.

Along the opposite wall was a squat bed. Its frame was steel, but years of use had left numerous scratches and knicks. On the bed was a yellow mattress mottled with stains. The only way in or out of the cell was a single heavy gray door.

Now let’s look at the same description but this time in a different context.

This time our main character has been locked up in the cell and will not escape until near the end of the book. The cell will be the location for a number of scenes and is, therefore, a vital location for the story. In this case, the location will appear in a number of scenes. This requires a different approach. When the location is first introduced, we provide the reader with a significant, but not extended, description. Then, as the scenes progress, the author will layer in a number of short descriptions to add texture to the location.

Here’s the initial location description:

The cell was a perfectly square room, about six foot in height with each wall no more than four feet in length. A single window was halfway up one wall, and a single bulb hung from the center of the ceiling. A bed consisting of a yellowed mattress rested on a steel frame. The only way in or out of the cell was a heavy gray door.

Here you can see we have cut the initial description to a single paragraph. It is enough for the reader to form a picture in his or her mind’s eye.

In this situation, where a location will be used for a number of scenes, you have a little more freedom. What you are able to do is layer in more detailed descriptions. You could write in a couple sections where the main character examines the room. Perhaps he tests out the bed and then looks at the window; perhaps he bangs on the door or spots some writing on the wall. In each case you would layer in more description.

For example:

John looked closely at the bed. The mattress was yellowed and mottled with stains ranging in color from blood red to deep, dark brown. He lifted the mattress. The frame was gunmetal gray, though it was scratched and dented. On the left-hand leg, someone had scratched out a series of tally marks, the lines of white paint underneath clearly visible. Paul counted to thirty before giving up.

This process produces a layering effect. Each time it is repeated, the location is further ingrained in the reader’s mind.

Remember the key rules of thumb, when writing description:

  • If it changes, describe it.
  • If it is trivial, then a line of description will do.
  • If it is important, then go to town with your description.

When editing, this does present a potential problem. How do you know if a location is important? If self-editing, then this will not be an issue since it is your book. However, when editing the work of other writers, this can be tricky. The key is to get into the habit of flagging ANY section you feel is lacking description. If you do this via comments then you will have a record of the places that you feel need work. What I tend to then do is once a chapter is complete, go back and look at the comments. If I’ve added a comment for a section that turned out to be trivial, I’ll remove the comment. I’ll also do the same thing one the edit is complete. I’ll look at all the comments asking for description expansion and then remove any that, now knowing the full plot, I fell are not needed.

Character Description

Having looked at location description, we now turn our attention to character description. Many of the rules of thumb that applied to location description will also apply to character description.

As the reader progresses through your book, they will be constantly creating and recreating a picture of the current scene in his or her mind’s eye. Each scene will usually consist of both the location and the characters. It is your job, as the author, to provide adequate character description.

So what is adequate?

In short, you need to provide enough description that the reader is able to paint a picture of the character in his or her mind. The same rule applies here as for the location description: the more important the character, the more description that is required.

So, for example, your main character should have a detailed, multilayered description. This should consist of not only a basic physical description but also the character’s physical tics and traits. On the flip side, minor characters should have description levels that match their importance (or lack of it). If the character is a fleeting component of a minor scene, then a simple ‘the postman’ description may well be enough.

One rule of thumb to use when writing character description is that, if a character appears in just one scene, then include just a simple one-line description. However, the more scenes in which the character appears, the more description is required.

As an example, here’s the opening description for the old man, who is one of the only two main characters in Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. This description is in the second paragraph of the story:

The old man was thin and gaunt with deep wrinkles in the back of his neck. The brown blotches of the benevolent skin cancer the sun brings from its reflection on the tropic sea were on his cheeks. The blotches ran well down the sides of his face and his hands had the deep-creased scars from handling heavy fish on the cords. But none of these scars were fresh. They were as old as erosions in a fishless desert.

Let’s look at another example. Imagine that you are writing a book in which a package has been sent to a character called John. It is important that the reader knows John received the package; therefore, you write this short scene:

The ring of the doorbell echoed down the hallway. John stepped into the hall and walked to the closed door. Turning the brass handle, he swung open the door. On the doorstep stood the uniformed postman, a brown crumpled package in his hands.

“John Smith?” the postman said, looking at the address label.

“Yep,” John said.

“Here you go,” the postman said, handing over the parcel and turning to leave.

“Thanks,” John said. He closed the door.

In this section, the postman is simply ‘uniformed’. This is the postman’s one and only appearance in the book. He was nothing more than a tool to get the parcel into John’s hands. Therefore, there is no need to layer in a detailed description.

Now … let’s look at another example.

Let’s take the same scene, but, this time, the postman is of more importance. It turns out the postman is actually a hit man, who is following John. A few scenes later we will see John going to the pub for a drink with this friends, and he’s going to bump into the postman (who is following him) but is not going to recognize him. However, we want the keen-eyed reader to make the link. Suddenly, the importance of the postman has increased. Yet we face one small problem. If we were to layer in a very detailed description, the reader would instantly perk up, sensing something else is going on here. We’ve been trained to match the description level with importance. More on that later.

So, in this example, we are looking to balance the description with enough details to make an impression but not so much that the reader is instantly suspicious.

The ring of the doorbell echoed down the hallway. John stepped into the hall and walked to the closed door. Turning the brass handle, he swung open the door. On the doorstep stood the uniformed postman, a brown crumpled package in his hands. The postman was taller than John, so his smiling face beamed downward, adorned with a long handlebar mustache.

“John Smith?” the postman said, looking at the address label.

“Yep,” John said.

“Here you go,” the postman said, handing over the parcel and turning to leave.

“Thanks,” John said, as he closed the door.

This time we’ve added in a new line of description. Though not subtle, it is enough for the reader to paint a new picture of the postman. It is also enough that, when we mention later (after a couple more scenes), the reader may make the connection.

The final type of character description is for your main characters. If you look back at the location description section, you will see the concept of layering description. The same layering concept applies for your main characters. Though we want you to build detailed descriptions of your characters’ features and actions, we don’t want to do it all at once. In fact, we want to do the opposite.

When a major character is first introduced to the reader, you should include a couple lines of description. At this point you are focusing on the major features. You are trying to paint a very rough outline of the character, just enough for the reader to conjure an image in his or her mind. For example, six foot tall, blond hair and blue eyes will be enough in the first instance.

Then, over the following scenes, you need to start layering in more detailed descriptions. These will not only be physical descriptions but also habits and tics that will bring your character to life. If your character strokes his beard while thinking, then you need to add this in early on. A good place to do this is via beats.

You must resist the temptation to go overboard. A line or two of description every couple of scenes will be enough. You must not overload the reader.

The problem is that each time you add a layer of description, you are triggering the reader to redraw the image in his or her mind’s eye. If you change too quickly, or too often, you will just confuse the reader.

If done slowly and methodically, this system will allow you to build a complex series of physical attributes for your characters. Over time the reader will pick up on the traits and allow you to add another level to your storytelling.

“Remember that guy in the pub with the mustache?” said John, stroking his beard. “I am sure I’ve seen him before.”

When editing a novel written by another writer, judging the level of description required can be a little hit and miss. It may be that a character is an essential part of the plot but, as an editor, you don’t realize until later in the edit. This leaves you with no option but to go back and assess the progression of description for the character. However, there is one rule of thumb that will work for editors and that is that each time a new character appears, it need some level of description. When self-editing, get into the habit of looking for description when a new character pops up.It has already been said that the level of description must match the importance of the character, but this is worthy of a little further examination. Over the year’s readers have been trained to see low levels of description indicate that the character in question is unimportant.

This is the Red Shirt Principle.

In the ’60s sci-fi series Star Trek, it became an in-joke that any red-shirted crew member, joining Kirk and his team for an off-ship planet visit, was doomed to a grisly death. A fan, with too much time on his hands, worked out that, of the fifty-nine crew members killed in the original series, forty-three (73%) were wearing red shirts.

Of course, Red Shirts were just that, characters wearing red shirts. They had no backstory, no development and often no name.

Your novel will be packed with Red Shirts, characters with so little description that the reader will see them but ignore them. The postman with the mustache was a Red Shirt. These are the glue that hold your plot together.

Now … a word of warning.

In some stories, you will want to trick the reader; you will want to sneak an important character into a scene but disguise them as a Red Shirt. As a rule, this should be avoided. There is no more guaranteed way to upset a reader than to have a Red Shirt turn out to be a major part of a plot.

Remember the unwritten rule: the more description, the more important the character. The reader knows this rule; the reader has been trained over the years of consuming books and movies to understand that characters with no backstory can be ignored. It is an unwritten convention. If you simply break this convention to trick the reader, the reader will be annoyed.

But what happens if you want to hide a character in plain sight?

Perhaps you are writing a crime genre, and you want the killer in the plot without the reader knowing it yet. What you mustn’t do in this situation is make the character a Red Shirt. Instead, you can use stereotyping.

Stereotyping is when you call upon a well-understood character type to shortcut the description process. If I say frail old man or huge bodybuilder or grumpy teenager, they all conjure up a distinctive image; a stereotype.

So you should routinely use stereotypes to shortcut your description process. In fact, the best way to wield a Red Shirt is via a stereotype. Look at our postman (without the mustache). When I said postman, you conjured up a ready-made image. I didn’t need to say anything else; you had already done all the work.

However, you can also use this stereotype to distract the reader.

This is not the same as tricking the reader by making a Red Shirt a major character; this is using the reader’s own stereotype to hide a character in plain sight.

In Roald Dahl’s short story The Landlady, Dahl gives us a master class in stereotyping. The story goes like this …

The main character, Billy Weaver, stays at a bed-and-breakfast ran by a charming old lady. The twist to the story is that … (look away now if you’ve not read the story) the old lady is a serial killer, who plans to poison and stuff Billy.

The problem Dahl faces is how can he trick the reader into thinking the landlady is harmless until the last possible moment? The sleight of hand comes in the unexpected behavior of the landlady. Dahl intentionally has his killer in plain sight.

The first we see of the landlady is this description:

She was about forty-five or fifty years old, and, the moment she saw him, she gave him a warm, welcoming smile.

Then on the next page:

She was halfway up the stairs, and she paused with one hand on the stair-rail, turning her head and smiling down at him with pale lips.

Add to this the narrator’s insistence that she is a ‘dotty lady’, and who would expect her of anything harmful?

The power of Dahl’s writing is that he gives us what we expect. The narrator TELLS us that she is a dotty old woman, and we believe him. Why wouldn’t we? Dahl wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (though The Twits is my all-time favorite book). He wouldn’t lie to us, would he? Dahl plays on our stereotypes. We are told she harmless woman, so we see a harmless woman.

The result is a memorable twist. This all said the foundational principles for character description are not complicated. Here are the rules:

If you are describing your main character, layer in description over a number of scenes.

If the character will play a part in more than one scene, add a few lines of description (and perhaps one layer or two).

If the character is a Red Shirt, then less is more.

When self-editing, the key is to ensure that you have sufficient description. The best way to do this is to ensure that each time a new character is introduced to the reader, you are including enough description. As we saw above, the amount of description will be dependent on the importance of the character.

Action Description

We have examined the role of both location and character description, discovering that the amount of description needed depends on the importance of the location or the character. We now turn our attention to action description. The best place to start, when discussing description of action, is to clarify exactly what is meant by ‘action’.

In the context of novel writing, action is anything that happens.

  • If your main character makes a cup of coffee, this is action and would need a description.
  • If your character is watching someone else making a cup of coffee, then this is action and also needs a description.
  • If your character is fighting off three ninjas, who are riding genetically mutated unicorns, then, yes, this is awesome, but it is also action.

From a technical viewpoint there is no differentiation between the type or intensity of action. If it happens in the scene, then it needs a description.

Let’s start with a little word of warning. It is very easy to slip into tell when action enters your story. Tell must always be avoided.

ALWAYS.

We have a whole unit dedicated to showing, not telling. At this point, I’d ask you to stick with me. All you really need to know is that telling is when you just ‘tell’ the reader something is happening, for example, The man walked down the street. Show is when you describe the action. So, instead of telling the reader the man walked down the street, you describe a walking man.

Here’s an example from our mate John:

John made a cup of coffee and sat down to answer his emails.

This is telling. You are telling the reader what is happening. You are not showing via description.

Here’s the same section but as showing:

John picked up the kettle and walked to the sink. He turned on the tap and allowed the water to fill the kettle. He returned to the work surface, plugged in the kettle and turned it on.

This is showing. In this example of action, you are showing the reader what is happening. The reader is part of the story, can see it unfold before his or her eyes, and, therefore, the reader remains an active part of the process. You must constantly be on the lookout for telling. If the narrator is telling, then stop and use showing.When editing, learning to spot tell is the the nitty gritty of the job. An editor must be able to spot tell at ten paces.

Now … it pains me to say this, but there’s an exception to the rule. It is just that, an exception; it is not an excuse for you to consistently tell.

It is OK (sometimes, occasionally) to use tell. However, it must be done consciously and with forethought.

Here’s the problem. If you are showing everything, each little action, then your book can rapidly become very boring. If taken to the extreme, the concept of show says that you should describe every step, every breath, even every blink of an eye.

Of course, this is stupid.

Blink. Blink. Blink.

But it does present a problem.

How do you deal with the boring and mundane stuff?

Do you really want to describe your character making a cup of coffee? Probably not, but go back and look at those two passages, the second (with showing) is more enjoyable to read. You feel part of the process. Therefore, it becomes a balance. You want to show as much as possible, but sometimes a simple ‘John made a cup of coffee’ is the best option.

The key is that, when you do tell, you should know you are doing it and, most important, WHY you are doing it.

You can get away with a bit of tell if something happens in a scene that is:

  • So mundane it verges on boring if described.
  • So commonly understood that there is a shared understanding of the action.
If we go back to John and his caffeine habit:

John made a cup of coffee.

This statement fulfills the two above-noted criteria. It is both mundane and commonly understood. We all know what it means to make coffee, plus no one wants to read a description of someone making coffee.When self-editing, getting this balance between show and tell is an important skill. You must be able to look at a passage of prose from a disassociated viewpoint. You must see it as a collection of narrative summary, description, and dialogue. You must then be able to balance when a section of tell needs to be rewritten and when it is ok to be left. This is always a tough call and something that you will get better at over time.

Let’s look at this principle in action…

Say your story calls for two scenes. The first scene is in Location A and the second in Location B. Your main character will be getting in his car at Location A and traveling to Location B.

This means you will need to write the first scene in Location A and the second in Location B. If you are strictly applying the show principle, then you are going to have to write a third scene. This is the ‘traveling scene’ in which the character moves between locations. The problem is that this particular traveling scene is pointless, as it fails to move the plot forward or develop the characters and is, therefore, just a waste of the reader’s attention (and there’s NOTHING more valuable than the reader’s attention).

The answer to this problem is simpler than it may first seem. Your reader is not stupid. The reader will understand that the character will travel from Location A to Location B. Therefore, you don’t need to show this, and you can just let it happen off the page.

One of the great advantages of the Show, Don’t Tell Methodology is that the reader is firmly engaged in the world of the narrator. Since you have actively tied the reader to this world, the reader is able to accept that events occur away from the narrator.

This can be used to a greater or lesser extent.

At one extreme the reader will accept that, if a character leaves Location A and gets in their car, then the character will drive in that car to Location B. This is a mundane and commonly understood event, and, therefore, there’s no need to describe it to the reader. To a greater extent, the reader is also able to understand that characters do things off the page. So if a character leaves one scene and then turns up a couple scenes later with a broken arm, this is acceptable. You will probably need to explain the broken arm in dialogue, but you don’t need to describe it in the action.

The result is, to avoid writing a complex and pointless traveling scene, do the following:

“OK, I’m off,” John said, as he picked up his car keys.

“Where are you going?” Sally said, her voice drifting from the next room.

“To see Paul.”

“Right. See you later.”

***

John slowed the car as he pulled into Paul’s drive, the house ahead of him looming tall in the morning light.

The three-asterisk spacer indicates to the reader that time has passed and/or a change of location has occurred, and something has happened while not on the page (in this case John has driven his car). It also indicates that whatever happened was not important enough to be in the story.

To summarize, the rules for writing description are pretty commonsense principles:

  • Ensure that you SHOW description not TELL.
  • Unless SHOWING is mundane and boring, then TELL. Remember, a little TELL goes a long way.

From a self-editing standpoint showing, not telling is huge. I’ve been a little naughty to sneak in such a significant principle, but I felt it was important in relation to action description. You will discover much more about self-editing tell in the next unit.

Emotion Description

Descriptions of characters, actions and events are normally something authors find easy to understand, once the basic elements have been explained. However, weaving emotion into your novel, without being able to fall back on tell (he was sad), is no easy task.

The key to understanding the best way to deal with emotion description is to revert back to the principles of Show, Don’t Tell. The fundamental concept of the system is that, if you are able to provide a truthful description of a character’s words and actions, this will stimulate an emotion in the reader.

At the most basic level, telling the reader someone is sad will do nothing, but showing the reader someone is sad, by describing the actions of a sad person, will stimulate a level of sadness in the reader.

If we are able to show the reader an emotion, describing the emotion in a way that triggers the reader’s own internal emotions, we are going to produce a far more powerful reading experience than one in which we tell the reader how to feel.

Deep stuff.

Here’s an example:

John cried with sadness.

This is pure tell. We are telling the reader that John is sad. This is emotionally sterile. We don’t want the reader to know John is sad; we want the reader to feel John’s sadness.

Try this example:

John slumped into the chair. He leaned forward, placed his head in his hands and cried. Huge body-shaking sobs racked John’s body, each coming in a wave, and, with every sob, he let out a low whimper.

In this example, we show the reader that John is sad. We are not telling the reader what John is feeling; we describe John’s actions while experiencing sadness. In the process, we create a narrative space. Since we don’t tell the reader what John is feeling, the reader is forced to work it out alone. It is this narrative space that the reader will fill. The reader tries to match John’s actions with those actions that the reader has experienced. The reader’s brain will match the actions to an emotion. In the process, the reader triggers that same emotion within his or her own mind.

Your job, and perhaps the most difficult part of writing is to write descriptions of an emotion in action that are truthful reflections of the way a character would act when experiencing that certain emotion. The more truthful your description, the deeper your understanding of human nature, the more powerful your writing will become.

Now imagine this same example at the end of a scene where John has just returned from the hospital, after identifying his five-year-old daughter’s body following her death in a car crash.

Hold that image in your mind, and read the example a second time:

John slumped into the chair. He leaned forward, placed his head in his hands and cried. Huge body-shaking sobs racked John’s body, each coming in a wave, and, with every sob, he let out a low whimper.

‘John cried with sadness’, my arse!

Exercise

Take a chapter from your book and do the following:

  1. Start reading from the start and each time you come across one of the following highlight the section:
  • A new character.
  • A new location.
  • A change in a location.
  • A description of action.
2. One you have completed the chapter, go back to each highlighted section and ask the following questions:
  • If a new character – Have you included sufficient description?
  • If a new location – Have you included sufficient description.
  • If a change in a location – Have you described the change.
  • If action – Are you fully describing the action? Are you telling, not showing.