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How to balance dialogue and description if you can not describe at all

What if the world exist only because of one person?
One world – one person. 

What if the world is dependent on the life of this person?
Bang again or Bingoooo? Or both? 

In general this is the idea of the book I’m writing. And the biggest headache is not the story or the idea, but the writing itself. To be more specific: the description of the places. For example, one of the scenes, where the main hero is planning to meet her friends, to say ‘good bye’ (because she’s moving to Sweden), is taking place at the Starbucks.

I’m not a fan of the Starbucks, I’m kinda feeling lost when I’m visiting such places. But it isn’t only the experience that matters, but the language (description) too. For me – it is a very modern space/room with the tables and coffee. LOL
Yes, that’s all. But I guess I have to add more bulshit… otherwise it doesn’t sounds ‘right’. Or ‘not enough’ for the book. 

Let’s chill and talk about Bunin: 

Ivan Bunin have won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1933, in case you didn’t know (I’m sure you didn’t). Ok, ok…now you’ll try to convince me – you’ve heard about him and the story “The Gentleman from San Francisco”. Fine! But the thing is…’The Gentleman’ is his ATYPICAL work. DO NOT READ IT!  If you’ll read that story – then you’ll never know what Bunin really IS and why the heck he’ve got the prize. 

Bunin was the most amazing ‘descriptionist’ LOL: especially of the landscape and the typical russian village. The way Bunin could describe the apple-garden – aaahhhh, no-one would ever describe. Some people told he’ve been a very good painter (in the younger age, and in a free time) too, and those skills helped him to notice the smallest details that other people would never see. 

Bunin could describe all the poetic specificity of the woods and steppes or of the muddy paths and huts without chimneys or of derelict manor houses glimmering with candles in front of soot-smudged icons… so charming.

I have to tell you – I love his descriptions. Why? Because I love the stories he’ve created. Most of his stories has ‘identical’ plot (he doesn’t change the plot much, but he is changing the environment lol). The plot is always ONE: rich guy meets a poor girl. He’s fuckin’ her brains out (as the result: she is with a baby. And because she is poor and to have sex without marriage is actually the sin – she kills the baby). Usually the rich guy is leaving her or simply never shows up at the end of the book (after a long-hot-sexy-night of sweet promises to marry her). Ending: never happy. 

The plot is always similar, but still, all his stories are different. Why? Right! Because of the surroundings and the descriptions Bunin creates. 

Now let’s jump to Gorky: 

Bunin once advised Gorky: ‘Never write a nature description more specific than “It grew dark” or “It was raining”.

Gorky was famous too (no Nobel though): by creating a strong dialogues or the characters, or the plot. But he’ve never been good at ‘portraying’ or ‘illuminating’ the images of the nature (or surroundings) in his novels. 

Gosh, I feel I’m writing more like #Gorky, but I’m so-so-sooooo much in love with #Bunin. 

So how to balance it? Should we balance it? Or let’s just embrace what we’ve got: can’t describe shit – write the dialogues, don’t push the limits; can convey the image – forget about the dialogues, don’t push the limits. Or push the limits and screw all that of the above?

(I guess I could take Faulkner and Hemingway as examples too, but Bunin and Gorky sounds more fun)


Hm, I think I’m going to pretend – my hero is at the Starbucks without describing of the Starbucks lol 😂 What do you think? 

The Hero’s Journey contest – deadline 3 June
If you’ve missed – The Story of Ocean and Tiger




raynotbradbury View All

Living in Sweden. Awesome. Happy. Ayurvedic food. Healthy lifestyle. Dogs. Literature. Painting. Meditation/Yoga. I love my life.
"It does not matter how long you are spending on the earth, how much money you have gathered or how much attention you have received. It is the amount of positive vibration you have radiated in life that matters" A. Ray

69 thoughts on “How to balance dialogue and description if you can not describe at all Leave a comment

  1. I always add description when it works for me – otherwise I let the reader imagine. I remember when I studied screenplay writing they advised that yhe best script ever written wss die hard and the best description was the villuan described as having long rockstar hair. I always think of thatcwhen I’m stuck. ☺


  2. Just embrace what you’ve got darling because anyways you will be creating something so original which will push your limits and will create a masterpiece itself!! 😃 Just what came to my mind!! And any amount of effort you put in, you will never completely satisfy all the readers.. so just give your best.. and you will know the right audience will definitely love it💕

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh thank you for your kind words, and I agree with you of course but it’s just every time I have to describe the place/environment/nature (like sun for example)…I just stop 🛑 lol 😂 and leave blank place there

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hehe! Well im sure this is something we can figure out. But yes descriptive scenes in any novel make it more relatable and fun for the readers!! The two authors you’ve mentioned might also have been beginners at some point of time. So rather than leaving blanks, just write minimalist and improvise later😃 Goodluck👍🏼

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Why does it have to be Starbucks? So blah. Especially if you don’t even like starbucks which personally I don’t. I brew my own or there are a couple shops I prefer if I am out and need caffeine. They have pasties, treats, and a much nicer atmosphere To my point, the story is made up anyway, so make up the “coffee shop” Then you can describe it as much or little as you want.

    Liked by 1 person

    • She is a kid,15yo…they love Starbucks or Espresso house. Mmm, I could make her “different” – kinda she loves old fashioned bakeries haha or home made. But she is already different enough* and I want to make her look as normal as possible.
      Ps. The thing I can’t describe at all LOL I can talk about feelings and what she think and weird stuff and dialogues and fantasies but I cant describe “things” or “places”. I can say like in scripts only: “it was dark inside”. But not much more.
      All “empty”/blank places in the novel r ONLY descriptions 😂😂 I just left empty places to fill later sigh
      Thx 💙💙

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I can imagine for a novelist having just the right amount of dialogue must be tricky, just the right amount of silly chatter is essential, tooo much and you may have a Soap Opera script. (Btw I’ve written a couple of silly tales and the balance isn’t easy!)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Ray! Descriptive language is hard for some and then others write too much descriptive. It is even harder if English is not your native or first language. Here is where the writer sometimes goes on discovery trips. Go to Starbucks or a place where young people go and sit down, look around, and write in your notebook what you see. But dont stress about it. Write the entire novel and then you can have a better picture in your mind what you want to describe and how you want to describe the scene based on the action, tempo, and importance of the scene setting to the story. Happy writing! 😁


  6. Do you use the name “Starbucks” in the book? And star bucks? A new kind of money? Maybe play with the word meaning a bit? I can keep thinking about this if you like? 🤣🐓🥚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes…Why? We can’t use the name? It can be a usual Espresso House too. In general modern coffee cafeteria:) it’s just a short description but I have always problems with the descriptions 😂😂


      • Not sure if there is legal issue with using branded names (i don’t think so). But really no clue. The reason i asked/wondered relates to most people having preconceived idea(s) in their head about Starbucks… good and bad. Run with that? You already have her relating to Starbucks… how does that lend to a description? Why does she choose modern? Is she burying her thoughts about the vibes of the older coffee shops? Not hip enough! Of course, just some thoughts. Description? Inner feeling or the outside appearance?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I can use “Coffee-House” as well, I don’t think there’re an issue with mentioning. It’s very short description but thank you for ur support and questions 🙂 😀✌️ I’ll think of them…and see what I can do 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I understand. I can write dialogue all day long, but description kills me every time. I tried writing screenplays, but I didn’t fall in love with the process. I agree with Hyperion…just write and try not to stress about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Understood – no stress 😎 😄✌️
      It’s not only dialogues. I think I can write what the person think or the way he/she sees people/actions/behavior/relationship…but to describe the table (for ex) is the most difficult thing haha


      • Yeah. It’s difficult. I wonder if there are any writing books that have description exercises? I haven’t read a writing book in a long time. It would probably help me.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Noooo I hate exercises 😂 in general I’m not very hard-working type 😬🤨
        I’ll be fine 🙂 I just wanted to write the post about it bcz I’m rarely describe and find it difficult, but life is good without descriptions too 😂😂✌️
        I read some books about creative writing but nothing new or helpful there…


  8. Good questions at the end. I think it depends on the story and the author. Sometimes it doesn’t matter to describe Starbucks. If we’ve been to one, we know what it looks like already lol Sometimes the reader just wants to know why you’re there and why the person you were supposed to meet didn’t show. Know what I mean?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What if the world exists only because of one person?
    One world – one person.
    What if the world is dependent on the life of this person?
    Every family has one such person… who is the epi-center of the world for them… their everything…their something that they are not willing to share with others or lose to others….
    Their something that they don’t want to grow in cognizance for fear of losing them…
    It is here, where the trouble starts…
    As they say, if you love something, set it free and if it loves you, it will come back to you….
    So, this hypothetical one person is nothing, but a constant (like pi)…
    A bouncing board for everyone, as it belongs to someone else.
    Something that can be used to fix problems, be it political, financial, grief, whatever…. as it belongs to someone else.
    And, which eventually grows in time exponentially to such gargantuan proportions, that the world cannot do without this nothing!
    At the same time cannot acknowledge the fact that it is nothing… because it has grown with time to such magnitudes that no one knows how much it knows…
    A catch 22…
    This eventually ends with some apocalypse… only to create a new constant!
    I guess this is what we call as Kalki….who knows…

    Long time no hear…. don’t do what I would’t do! Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

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