mpreg-tony said: No, don’t read Les Miz. It’s awful. Do you want to read ten chapters about Waterloo, and the political impact of Waterloo, and a house that was in the vicinity of Waterloo, and the soldiers who died there? Or the sewer system of Paris? In detail?
Actually I’ve read…
I agree with you, lucrezianoin. These are some of the most wonderful passages.
I thought I’d offer my teacher’s opinion on scenes like this because I can’t resist.
Sometimes, we get tons and tons of descriptions about places in old books that bore us, but I really like them because it treats the place as a character. I like to think of the city or the town or whatever as having its own backstory and personality. Then, when the characters do something in that town, I like to think about how their actions become more significant given the town’s history/personality. It’s not enough to just say “A certain battle was fought here” because then you only get one aspect of that city’s “personality.”
For example, say you have a story which contains a town which has a house on a hill. You might think: house alone on a hill = lonely. Or maybe house on a hill = creepy. Ok, great. But then say you get more descriptions, like how the owner of that house used to take care of it all by himself (or herself), fixing everything with his own hands, painting the walls bright colors to make him feel happy. Maybe all the furniture was hand-made. Is the house quite so lonely or creepy? Then say you get more descriptions. Maybe one day, the owner, who loved that house so much, only started fixing it up when his wife died. Maybe it was a car accident. Maybe she and the owner had plans to adopt a child before her death. Maybe then, the house is a stand-in for the wife, and he misses her? Or maybe it represents lost opportunities, a crumbling future, or something else? But then you get even more history: the house used to be a shelter for children but was shut down due to insufficient funding. Now how do we interpret the house? And after all that backstory, our main character in the plot (let’s say it’s a child or a teenager) just runs past it on her way to catch the school bus every day.
You see, long descriptions of places and things can be boring. They’re not for everyone. But they can also add significance to the events that happen by acting as characters in the story.