Descriptiveness of a story and short story submissions

I'm a gr. 11 (16 years old) student, and in my English classes, it is always recommended to be descriptive and detailed in all our writing. However, when I was reading your writing tips, I found that you suggested that we should be more concise than descriptive, and try to make the story as short as possible. If you're writing a short story, is it good to be descriptive, or do you want to keep the story as short and simple as possible?

What if you're writing a longer story, such as a novel?

Also, for the short story submissions on this site, if we submit a story and don't hear from you within a week, we can for sure assume that it has not been accepted? Lastly, can we can submit as many different stories as we want to; are there no limitations?

Thanks for your time, and your writing tips are very useful.


Hi, and thanks for your question. I'm glad that you're finding the writing tips useful.

Your teachers are correct--you definitely want to be as descriptive as possible in your writing, so readers can feel what you show.

However, this means finding the BEST and most precise details to describe, in as few words as possible. Avoid the first words of description you imagine, and work harder to find more precise, vivid words.

Your goal as a writer is to create an emotional experience for readers, and to do this, you must make them see, hear, smell. taste, and feel as if they were inside your story experiencing the characters and events themselves.

Aim to have your descriptions do double duty--they should describe AND show something significant about characters, places, and events.

To tell the reader that a character wears blue shorts with a matching blue T-shirt, does not make the character memorable. You could improve that by writing: "He always wore clothes in matching sets, as if the task of pairing different colors would overtax his imagination."

In "Child of God," Cormac McCarthy might have 'told' that Kirby was unsophisticated and slovenly, which would have left readers feeling nothing.

Instead, he 'shows' Kirby in action, and causes readers to feel disgust when he writes: "Kirby turned his head to one side and gripped his nose between his thumb and forefinger and sneezed a gout of yellow snot into the grass and wiped his fingers on the knee of his jeans."

Notice that Kirby didn't sneeze a lump or a wad, but a "gout" of yellow snot, which sounds more disgusting.

McCarthy doesn't mention the color of Kirby's jeans or note his hair color, or say whether he is tall or short because none of that will evoke emotion. Kirby is memorable because he is uncouth.

The more precise your diction, the fewer words you will need to make readers feel. Decide what defining characteristic will make your character memorable, and what emotion that characteristic should arouse in readers. Then describe with words meant to evoke that feeling.

About submitting your work: You can submit to Page Forty-Seven as often as you like. If you do not hear from us within one week you may accurately assume that we cannot use your story at this time.

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