Today’s challenge is an odd one. It is listed as Flora and Fauna.
I’m not entirely sure what Marie is looking for here… my favorite fauna and flora? What I think of putting fauna and flora into my manuscripts? Hmm… this one is definitely an odd one.
I guess I’ll take it from the position of the latter. I don’t usually describe much in the way of any flora or fauna in my works, unless they’re directly related to the story in some way. If it’s integral to the storyline or the particular scene, then sure, I’ll put it in and describe it. But if it’s not integral in any way, or not particular to the scene, then I feel it would be a kind of purple prose.
I’ve mentioned previously that Robert Jordan is one of my all time favorite authors. He is king of what I might consider purple prose. His descriptions can go on not just for paragraphs, but for pages. But he does so in a way that makes everything feel integral to the story. I do admit to sometimes skimming over some of his more flowery (pun intended) descriptions, and then find I need to go back to read more because he embeds important things (and seemingly UNimportant things that end up being very important later) into his blocks of descriptions.
Robert Jordan is one of the few exemptions for me when it comes to overly-descriptive prose. I don’t just give him the exemption because I love his stories; I do it because he does it in a much more unique way. He can turn the most mundane thing into an important plot point three books later. He can write about the field being covered in yellow orchids, with their blossoms just beginning to open and their fragrance lingering in the air and make it seem like he’s just setting the scene… and then five chapters later you learn that yellow orchids symbolize the awakening and their fragrance can be hallucinogenic and that’s why one of the characters went on a midnight ride on his horse (this is not anything from his books, it’s merely an example).
It’s the way those seemingly innocuous things later have meaning that make him (in my mind) an absolute master.
But let’s get real, here. Most people (especially young adults which is my main audience) don’t have that kind of attention span. I know so many people that I would have expected to be as enamored with Robert Jordan’s books as I am… people who love fantasy far more than I do (I’m honestly not a huge fantasy fan, with only a few exceptions)… people who tell me they can’t stand Robert Jordan and couldn’t get past his first few books because “he’s too wordy” or “he rambles on and on about unrelated things,” not realizing (because they haven’t read further) that those “unrelated things” actually mean something later. When it comes to writing (especially young adult), you truly have to know your audience.
So, for me, I will stick to a more minimalist approach when it comes to describing various things like flora and fauna because the majority of my readers don’t particularly care—unless they’re a much larger part of the plot.
Join me tomorrow for when I talk about Character Goals!