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07.02.2019 20:41    Comments: 0    Categories: Fiction Elements      Tags: writing description  writing  description  

On Writing Description


Description in the most artistic fiction, is used only as subsidiary and contributive to narration. The aim of description––which is to suggest the look of things at a certain characteristic moment––is an aim necessarily static. But life––which the novelist purposes to represent––is not static but dynamic. The aim of description is pictorial: but life does not hold its pictures; it melts and merges them one into another with headlong hurrying progression. A novelist who devotes two successive pages to the description of a landscape or a person, necessarily makes his story stand still while he is doing it, and thereby belies an obvious law of life. Therefore, as writers of fiction have progressed in art, they have more and more eliminated description for its own sake.


Excerpted from A Manual of the Art of Fiction, by Clayton Hamilton

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