Description: Narrative Lensing

Great Article on who/what/where/why to describe

David F. Shultz

Writers don’t describe. That’s a painter’s job. Writers render experiences by filtering them through a narrative lens.

Is the cigar smoke “coiled around her neck” or “draped over her shoulders”? Nothing in the physical scene determines this.

“How do you describe a werewolf?” is the wrong question; “How does the protagonist see a werewolf?” is the question. The answer is: it depends on whether they are a werewolf-hunter or someone trying to run away.

A sad person might see the gray clouds, and a happy person might see the bright sun, looking up at the same sky. Our mindset and personality shapes what we perceive, so it should shape your narrative.

A scene cannot be described without knowing who is telling the story, or what kind of story it is meant to be. To properly render a scene, you need to use a narrative lens.

The Narrative Lens

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