If you’re like me, you don’t like waiting around for the action when it comes to reading. Unless the political chit-chat, description, and dialogue really interests me, I’ll just skip to the good parts or put the book down altogether. I can’t tell you how many books I just wasn’t able to get through because, well, frankly speaking, it bored the socks off me. Why? Because the author could’ve gotten the same reaction (or in most cases, better reactions) from using descriptive summary in the place of the slow-paced monotony.
What I’m getting at is that, even though it may feel like it, it’s not your job to recount to the readers every single thing that happens to your main character every single minute. If the plane ride is seventeen hours, you don’t have to narrate those seventeen boring hours on a stuffy plane (unless, of course, you are writing a stream-of-consciousness piece). Use summary in its stead. Your readers will thank you. You’ll also be thanking yourself–now you can use the energy you would have wasted on something more prevalent than the description of how boring the flight was, how awful the on-flight meal was, and how loudly the person next to your character snored in his sleep.
If you aren’t sure what is considered ‘slow’ in your writing, or you aren’t sure how to summarize, here’s an example:
Stuart sat on the bench inside the store while his girlfriend ran around, looking at every single thing. He wished he had a jacket because the AC was cranked up even though it was a pretty mild day outside. He could hear the clip-clop of everyone’s shoes on the tile as he waited on the bench. The bench was really uncomfortable, but he’d rather be sitting than ambling around. He looked at his shoes and noticed the smudges of dirt on them and thought that maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to go and buy some shoes. He looked across the store and shook his head. There were way to many people in the shoe section. He looked at his watch–they had been there for two whole hours already. Suddenly, his attention was riveted to the little girl who accidentally knocked over a display. She was the President’s daughter!
All of this can be summarized into the following: Stuart had been waiting patiently for his girlfriend to finish shopping for two hours when the little girl accidentally knocked over the shoe display. She looked up–she was the President’s daughter!
Now, I can use all of the energy I saved using the descriptive summary to continue the story how Stuart helped the President’s daughter–who had slipped away from Secret Service by crawling out of the window in the bathroom–find her way back to her father, and in the process, got tagged as a kidnapper and an enemy of the state.
Using descriptive summary will help you stay on-pointe with your writing and can help you from getting drowned in your own descriptions, or, worse, losing your readers because they had become bored.
Thanks for reading!