Woke up this morning and didn’t want to get out of bed. Luckily, there was a notebook and a pen within my reach, so I was able to jot down some things that I was thinking about before I was willing to start the new day. I wrote about this writing thing that’s been on my mind off and on over the last week, the very thing that brought me necessitated yesterday’s word sprint: descriptive text. I like descriptive text, it’s descriptive.

But I stopped writing descriptive text years ago because I thought it was boring. I got tired of describing a new scene whenever the characters went somewhere new, and I got tired of describing what the characters looked like periodically because it felt like a waste of space and energy. I’ve found, though, that in roleplaying games, it’s important to know what things look like so it’s easier to respond to them in-character.

I thought there ought to be an “order of operations” to describing things visually: what’s the most noticeable thing, largest, loudest, flashiest, and what’s the space that it exists in? Start there and move outward, going on to the next noticeable thing, and so on. Sometimes you want to combine the description of the thing with the space it’s in, because the combination is what makes them memorable. Sometimes you want to summarize a scene because all the objects follow a theme.

Then, vary the type of description between systematic and condensed. You want your readers to be able to visualize the scene, but you don’t want them to stumble over description while trying to get to the action. Generally, when the focal point of a scene is what’s going on, that should be “the most noticeable thing,” while scenes with less action give the reader “more time” to sink into the surroundings.