Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Collins Guides

So I'm writing a couple of different things set in England (the Francis Drollery, Ghost Crusader series and Project Alpha), and I have been using the Collins Guides to help me select and describe trees, flowers and birds, as needed.  The books are replete with wonderfully executed illustrations and have terrific detail very useful for a writer: each Trees guide entry, for instance, identifies when the species was brought to England, and the Flowers guide tells you when each plant blooms, and the Birds guide describes the calls of different species.

Such a wealth of information presents a challenge and a temptation to a writer.  How much of this should translate into text on my page?  The answer, I suggest, has to do with 1) audience and genre expectations and 2) character and POV.  A girl-oriented romance whose POV character is a painter with an eye for detail will have much more description of the flora and fauna of the setting than a boy-oriented adventure story whose POV character is a crime-fighting ghost.

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