She flipped her shiny raven hair over her shoulder, her gold hoop earrings catching the light.
She wore an emerald green knit scarf wound around her neck with long tassels hanging down the front of her brown wool dress, a tiny knot anchoring the end of each string.
The above description is similar to one I recently read in a middle grade novel. Do we need to know this much about the character's appearance? The fact that this minor character wore a brown wool dress had nothing to do with the plot and I didn't connect this specific description with that person as I read through the rest of the novel. Other characters were not described in this much detail, so these pockets of adjectives didn't seem to fit. Personally, I find it a little distracting to the story. After about the fourth chapter, the novel was excellent. If I could convince my students to plow through the beginning, they would love it. Many won't do that.
So how do we help the reader paint that very important picture in their minds without interrupting the flow of the plot?
We have to include the descriptions that add valuable insight into the character's personality and details about the scene that affect the plot. I can pick this up pretty quickly in the work of others but maybe not my own.
It is so important to take the risk of allowing someone else to read your pages. Don't ask them to read your first draft when you barely know what direction you are going. That's practically asking them to do your writing for you. Write, edit, rewrite, edit, etc., and when you think it is ready, ask a writer to read it.
Critique groups are especially helpful. They will tell you what you need to hear, not just what you want to hear. Be ready to possibly cut some of those descriptions or unnecessary scenes that go on and on. Your fellow writers will do you a valuable service because many kids will either skip those parts of your book or will stop reading it and if kids do that, so will editors.
If you have any thoughts or disagree with me, I'd love to hear from you.