When reading, sometimes I take in the amount of description and say, “wow, i’m there.” Other times I feel like “where’s the story?”
Description is a difficult part to get right. Some people want to know every single detail, but a lot of us want the story to move forward. The question is, how much is enough and how much is too much? I find myself struggling with that time and again.
Science fiction and fantasy need a different amount of description than some other genres (say, chick lit). When I build a world from scratch, you’re probably going to want to know whether my critter has blue fur or brown scales or even different facial features. That doesn’t mean I need to spend time talking about my fantasy (human) protagonist’s long, dark, wavy hair every few paragraphs.
A lot of times if a detail isn’t used to further my story, I leave it out. I know I need more description in some of the my work, but it isn’t hurt me to get the story out first, then figure out the details that need to be woven inside.
The trick is balance, I think. Then always checking the story after the changes to be sure it still has the plot somewhere and not hidden by all the descriptions. Writers simply can’t describe their world for ten pages and expect the audience to hang out waiting for action. Then again, if we throw them the details in chapter 22 about the critter they’ve been traveling with for the entire book, it’s too late.