As a reader, I love descriptive narrative. I welcome the chance to create an image in my mind with the author’s words.
Rosamunde Pilcher springs to mind:
‘As usual, Elfrida was the first downstairs. At the turn of the stair she threw back the curtains (a marvellously grand threadbare pair she had bought in the market in Buckly) and gazed out at the day. Actually it was night because it was still dark, but it had stopped snowing and by the light of the street lamp she could see the garden, all shape and form obliterated. Bushes and trees dropped under the weight of the snow and shrubs, pillowed, had lost all identity. It was still and quiet.’ Winter Solstice. The description is so plain, so perfectly understated, so very comforting. It is why Pilcher will always be a number one favourite.
Dorothy Dunnett is another:
‘In the long grass by the water’s edge a man lay half buried, with small life moving past his head and a tarnishing damp spread into his clothing. Behind him, four miles of bog rolled and steamed in the morning sun. Ahead, the turgid waters of the moat sucked and plopped in a leisurely way against the grazing meadows and scrub which lay behind Boghall Castle.’ The Game of Kings. As always with Dunnett, I am speechless with joy and envy!
And Posie Graeme Evans:
Jehanne fumbled in the little drawstring bag that was slung from Alyce’s slender, plaited belt and found a pair of tiny scissors – golden handled with chaste silver blades designed for fine needlework and very rare and valuable. Quickly undoing the belt, Jehanne used it to tie off the baby’s cord, which in this uncertain light seemed to have stopped pulsing, and taking a deep breath, she snipped through it. The Innocent. It’s detailed with finesse, feisty and filled with page-turning potential.
As a writer, I want to paint images so that anyone reading my stories will feel as if they are sitting watching the big screen, or even better, are perhaps a fly on the wall. I once received a review that said I wrote in ‘3-D and surround sound’ and I was truly thrilled with the description because it meant I had achieved my goal.
For me it is necessary that the reader see the trees, hear the leaves shifting against each other in a strange little wind that sets hairs standing on necks, that as they reach a hand to steady themselves against a wall, their fingers touch the cool surface of emerald and lapis coloured tulip tiles. That the fragrance of gardenia and jasmine fill their noses and the smell of bread baking in large ovens further away, sets drop of saliva dancing in their mouths.
If they feel even half that as they read my novels, then I may just be doing it right…