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I’ve never been good at description. At least I’ve never considered myself good at it. In fact, I wasted several years thinking I was a playwright or a screenwriter because I didn’t think I could ever paint worth a damn a vivid world and vibrant characters using nothing more then the twenty-six letters of the alphabet as my palette. My dialogue was fine. Plotting, no problem. Ask me to describe a scene, or a character’s face, or the contents of a living room, and I’d be stumped.
I got over it, of course. Writing was inside inside me, something I had to do. Therefore I had to learn. I never took writing classes in college, but I consumed writing books, and I read, and I wrote. I could breeze through a page of dialogue or a chunk of exposition, but when the time came to paint the scene, nothing would come. I could see it in my head, but to translate it to words took effort, and many stories died on the unforgiving alter of description.
I’ve overcome that now. In fact – and to my shock – most people who read my work comment on the description above all else, how they’re able to clearly see the world I’ve painted. I’m by no means an expert, and I doubt I’ll ever be able to paint like the literary masters. It takes a long time, too. For me, a lot of my so-called writer’s block, isn’t really a block at all. It’s just an inability to get past what for me is the really hard part of writing.
On the other hand, despite the effort it takes – or because of it – nothing in my writing gives me more personal satisfaction than a well-written descriptive passage.
What about you? What’s your Achilles’ heel, and how do you overcome it?