At feedback feedback sessions I frequently see pieces of writing which have no description whatsoever in them. I suggest some would be a good idea; without it, the reader can't place the characters who are so busily talking to each other. It's as if they are floating in time and space, disembodied heads nattering away.
The writer says that they've already included lots of description in the bit that comes just before this. (This is often stated in an end-of-subject way.) But having a wodge of description on page 10 and then nothing for the next 4 pages simply doesn't work. Readers like to do some work, but it's asking too much of them to hold an image of the location in their heads for so long. Besides, they might not read p9 - 15 in one go; it's not impossible that they will put the book down and go off and do something else. When they come back, they will be looking for clues as the location.
The answer is to feed in description throughout the action. Keep on adding little snippets about the location and the characters so the pictures are fresh in the reader's mind. In the medieval Great Hall from yesterday's post I've already mentioned the hammer beams supporting the ceiling. I could add: oak floorboards, stained glass, gargoyles, lions on coats of arms, flags and tapestries, candles...
And I could also be adding active verbs to all of them: oak floorboards (creaking), stained glass (sun shining through), gargoyles (leering), lions (rampant, of course) on coats of arms, flags and tapestries (waving, fluttering), candles (flickering, guttering)...
John stared up at the massive medieval hammer beams supporting the ceiling as he entered the Great Hall. "Wow!"
Melissa dragged her feet across the creaking oak floor. "I'm bored," she whined, flicking her long plait back over her shoulder.
John decided to ignore her. He went further into the hall, concentrating on the shields hung around the whitewashed walls. There, among the lions rampant and the unicorns couchant on many coats of arms, he might see the golden balls of his ancestor.
"Heraldry sucks big time," Melissa muttered behind him.
He spun round. She was standing in a shaft of sunlight streaming through the stained glass windows, her discontented face coloured red like blood....
Little and often, little and often.
Today! In the library! St Ives! 11.00 am. Me!