Take a Look-See, but Don’t Keep Looking

Some writers like to detail every action conceivable, from looking at an item, to reaching for it, to doing something with it. This, my friends, is a newbie no-no.  Readers are amazing creatures; they can discern what’s transpiring in a book without being provided every teeny-weeny fact.

One action that seems to be a favorite is “look”.

Jeremy looked at her as he spoke.

I nodded as I looked at her and then continued.

We were looking at each other as we sat at the table.

They had been looking at each other for several minutes as they chatted.

The children looked at the candy as they ate it.

Then, there’s detail-action overload.

Roger looked at the device on the desk and moved over to it, picked it up with his hands and looked at it closely as he held it with both hands. Then, hearing sounds, he looked around, but didn’t see anything.  Sighting a door in the dim distance, he walked over and looked the plain door over, before opening it and looking inside.

Unless the action of “looking” is crucial to the scene/plot, don’t add it.  As readers, we can assume that’s what a character is doing—when he/she walks, runs, speaks, natters, chatters, kills or is killed.

Sure, you can use “look” if you’re describing something.

It looked like a storm was brewing beyond the hills.

Sally looked angry.

However, might this not work better?

A storm was brewing beyond the sun-kissed hills.

Sally’s cheeks reddened with anger.  /  Sally’s expression turned to anger.

Avoid newbie no-nos. Use as active a voice as possible to present details and descriptions, and keep them to a minimum.  Show, don’t tell.  Steer clear of pages and pages of dialogue, where your main character (or any other for that matter) drones on—and on—by explaining sequences as they transpired or offering the history of an event. WPLooking123RFDOTcom 1

You’re a writer with a story to tell.  Have at it!  Show us what that awesome story entails; paint pictures. Keep us in the [enjoyable] moment with well-executed actions, scenes, and storylines.