by Tim Kane
Each time you introduce a new locale, you’re obliged to describe the scene. What things look like, the sounds, the smells, etc. Writers usually dump this information in one gigantic paragraph that reads like an encyclopedia entry. It doesn’t have to be this way. Three simple steps will help break up that iceberg of a descriptive dump.
Write Your Description
Pour all your writerly talent into your description. Hit all the senses: sight, sound, smell, tactile (taste might be a harder one). Be sure to include punchy verbs.
Write Your Scene
Pace your scene the way you usually do. If there’s dialogue, I often just write it out one giant stream. I’ll only pause to write the word BEAT where I want a pause.
Scatter Your Description
Now, break your paragraph into chunks. Leave only what you need to establish the scene. Then sprinkle the remaining chunks throughout the scene. Think of yourself like Hansel and Gretel, only now you’re leaving descriptive bits for your reader to follow. If you had any beats or areas you needed a natural pause in your scene, this is where you could drop a breadcrumb.