How Much is Too Much? with Tameri Etherton and Win a Book

First, today is the penultimate day (don’t you love that word?) in my blog tour to celebrate the paperback release of ELYSIAN FIELDS, and I’m going all geeky with the fabulous Steph at Fangs, Wands and Fairy Dust. I’m talking about those bad, bad boys we love and we love to hate (ahem, Jean? Rand? You guys listening?). Last chance to enter for the tour giveaways, and I’m also hosting a special giveaway just for today’s post, so head on over!

Today, please join me in welcoming author Tameri Etherton to Preternatura. Tameri is putting the finishing touches on The Stones of Kaldaar. The Stones of Kaldaar will be published in August and will be the first book in Tameri’s Song of the Swords fantasy series.

Tameri Etherton writes stories about kickass heroines and the rogues who steal their hearts. While not writing, or researching for her latest book, she can be found in tea shops laughing with friends, reading books, or at home curled up on the couch watching movies with her family. She lives in a quaint little seaside village, and enjoys long walks on the beach with her own prince charming. You can learn more about Tameri by visiting her website, on Facebook and by following her on Twitter.

And now, let’s hear from Tameri…

Research for Writing

Thank you so much Suzanne for having me on your blog today! In a bizarre twist of coincidence, I just spent ten days in New Orleans doing research. I was tickled to see your books in the Garden District bookstore. I might’ve even squealed a little and said, ‘I’ve met her!’. We all have our fangirl moments, don’t we?

[Woo-hoo for Garden District Books! I had my Royal Street launch party there!]

So, about New Orleans… I admit, I’m a research junkie. Give me Google, or a musty basement full of old books and I’m in heaven. I can spend hours chasing leads down random rabbit holes and come away with a brilliant gem to use in a book. And if research involves travel, I’ll have my bags packed within the hour!

That’s not quite what happened for a recent trip I took, but it was close. A friend wanted to go to Baton Rouge and New Orleans to research a book she’s writing. With more than a little nudging from me, and six months of planning, we did it. We took off for lands unknown. My friend has been to New Orleans, but I haven’t. I’m a Southern California girl through and through, and that humidity almost killed me.

So did a ghost, but that’s a tale for another day.

Speaking of supernatural entities, we stayed two nights in a haunted plantation. Was it fun? Maybe. Was it an adventure? Heck yes. Did I get loads of information for future books? Double heck yes! Will I ever stay there again? Not on your life.


I will, however, gladly return to Madewood House Plantation. There might’ve been spectral visitors, but they left me alone. Even when we went to the graveyard late at night, the worst thing to happen was getting bit by every mosquito in a two mile radius. The picture is of the back of the mansion and I chose it because it’s creepy and cool at the same time. Which is how I would describe most of the places we stayed.

But here’s the thing ~ pictures only tell part of the story. What you don’t get from a picture are the smells and sounds of a place. You can’t touch a wall or wooden floor and feel two hundred year’s worth of life in the cracks and warps. These are the things I flew all the way to Louisiana to experience. Just to make my writing more authentic.

Without having the experience of walking down Royal Street in New OrleansTameri Etherton Author Pic and smelling the rotting trash, or the acrid yet sour stench of too many young people who can’t hold their liquor, I might’ve missed that important element when writing about a city street, whether it’s in a fantasy or contemporary novel.

Why does it matter? Because the reader deserves better. Sure, I can describe a street, but without teasing all of your senses, you’re left wanting and I never want to leave a reader unsatisfied.

Of course, this begs the question, how much is too much? I guess that depends on the story. Finding the right balance of description is the task of every writer. And sometimes the bane of our existence.

So tell me, how much do you feel is too much? Do you enjoy reading descriptions, or are you more of a ‘get to the action!’ kind of reader? In fantasy or paranormal, how much research do you think a writer should do? Is it even something you consider?

I’d really love to know.

Thank you for coming on this little journey with me! I hope our paths cross again soon.

Thanks, Tameri! The aroma of beer, upchuck, and wet concrete is an, uh….unique experience of early mornings in the French Quarter, especially on the weekend. And believe me, you haven’t felt humidity until you’ve visited in August. OMG. But I hope you enjoyed visiting my adopted hometown. I will be looking forward to the cover reveal for The Stones of Kaldaar!

If you would like to be entered for your chance to win a two-book mystery book giveaway from the stash I brought back from the RT Booklovers Convention leave a comment on how much description you like in your favorite reads. I brought back a TON of books, and this will be the first of several RT giveaways in the next week or two!

48 thoughts on “How Much is Too Much? with Tameri Etherton and Win a Book

  1. I think a certain amount of description is necessary, especially in fantasy since you need to know how the authors world works and who the characters are. But I like to have as much of that revealed through the action of the story as possible. I find that if a book starts out as all description it can be hard to get into.

    • I totally agree. Grab me from the beginning and don’t let go. Fantasy is so much fun to write because you can create any world you like, but I find I do just as much research for stories set in the modern world. Weird, right?

      Thanks for your comment, Sandy!

  2. I like description in a story that helps develop plot, characters or location. I don’t want a two page description of someone’s dress! Including smells and sounds definitely helps flesh out a scene for the reader.

    • Oh my gosh, Liz I totally agree! I love me some Regency, but there are a few writers who are way too in love with the gowns. It’s a dress. It has lace. It’s pretty. Got it. 🙂

      I’m so glad you agree about the sounds and smells. It’s something I’m working on and have to be cognizant to include, but not too much. Especially some of the smells from the French Quarter. Eww.

  3. I’ve always thought that the key to good writing is brevity. If an author is able to give me all the info I need as a reader is very few words, I’m impressed. Off the top of my head: Charlaine Harris vs. George R.R. Martin. One is a wordsmith and the other makes good door stops.

    • I love your two comparisons. Yes! Another that comes to mind is Robert Jordan. Oh. My. Description. Overload. He was a wicked good writer, but like GRRM, loved his words a little too much.

      Brevity is definitely a good thing!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  4. Suzanne! What a fun tour you are having on the book tour and CONGRATULATIONS on the release of ELYSIAN FIELDS.

    Thank you again for hosting me here today. You’ll have to stop by A Cup of Tea and Sorcery for a chat sometime soon.

  5. I like a lot of description in the books I read. I want to know what everything looks like and the emotions everyone is feeling. I have read a book with too much description though and I got bored and may have skipped a little. *hands head in shame* It was a good book though. 😀

    • Oh no! Not the dreaded skipping… 😉 Don’t hide your head in shame, we’ve all done it. At least it was a good book. I’m so glad to get your take on the subject. There definitely is a balance. I hope if you ever read my books, you don’t skip any parts, and if you do ~ tell me! Feedback from readers is gold.

  6. I like the description of New Orleans in the Sentinels series. I really have learned a lot about New Orleans and Louisiana. The streets, the food, the people, the history. I don’t like too much description, I read a local author recently who did several scenes describing detectives doing interrogations that went on for four chapters. That was real overkill and turn off.

    • Suzanne does a fabulous job of bringing the reader right into the world of New Orleans. She makes the city come alive, which is the goal of every writer and she does it so well. Perhaps the local author you mention needs to read Suzanne’s books to get an idea of how to do it right! Four chapters is a bit much. I hope the rest of the book was good, though.

  7. I like a fair amount of description, but not overkill. For example, I read a book that spent over two pages describing a knife and cutting board the main character was using to make dinner. Had nothing to do with the plot, or even character development. Just lots of needless words about what type of cutting board/knife the character would use or would never use. I felt like the author was just trying to pad the word count of an already long novel.
    I do like the little touches that give you a feel for a scene, like the season or weather, etc.

    • Oh my! Two pages for a knife and cutting board? I hope that meal got her something good in the plot! Yeah, that’s a bit of overkill, especially with the ‘wouldn’t use’ part. I think the reader is smart enough to conclude that if she IS using one knife, she probably wouldn’t use another. Well, maybe that writer is really into cooking. Or knives. 🙂

  8. I think that you need enough description to get the point across, but not so much that I feel the overwhelming need to skip down the page to get to the action. 😉 I love description though. Books need it so you are not just all… jane kicked ass. jane slept with jack. Jane went into the house. Substance is awesome. 😀 Just….. not….. 2 pages describing a cutting board. @susan. lol.

    • You made me snort my tea, Ryan! Too funny.

      I have, unfortunately, read several books like that. And yes, substance IS awesome! I once read a faerie tale that was pretty much what you said and I kept thinking, but what does the world look like? I craved being thrust into the world and lost to Faerie. But it never happened.

      Thanks for the giggle and the comment.

  9. Congrats Tameri on the upcoming release! I like enough description to picture what’s going on/where we are but if it’s longer than a few sentences or a paragraph I usually skip b/c it takes me out of the story 🙂

    • I meant skim… not skip but if it’s the two pages that that others are bemoaning, then I would skip!!

      • Thank you! It’s a very exciting time, and also a tad terrifying.

        Skip, skim, it’s all good if the description goes on forever. I think it was Elmore Leonard who wrote, “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip..” Words to live by!

  10. Congratulations Tamari!! So excited for you. I love description that makes me feel like I’m there seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting feeling, and yet so lost in the story that I forget I’m reading the description. Looking forward to reading your book this summer!

    • Tari! Thanks for coming by Suzanne’s place! I love that kind of description too. It draws you into the story so completely, you forget you’re not in the real world. I need to make sure I do that in my books! I can’t wait for you to read it. I hope to see you soon, my friend.

  11. I’m always having to add details at the end to make sure I have enough! Oops. But you’re right–it’s the details that make the story come alive.

    • Rebekkah, I’ve had to do that, too! On the very first novel I wrote, I had so much dialogue it was hard to tell where the heck my characters were, or even what they looked like. Major oops! Now I have to be careful I’m not on description/detail overload.

  12. I believe we’ve discussed this so you know how I feel. I’m not one for the over kill on words, but I do love descriptive words weaved into the story, breathing life into till it’s more than a narrative. It blooms into a full blown living entity, running like a movie in my head while I read. I want to see pictures, not words. when I look at a book. And I’m not talking picture books. 😉

    • Our discussion was actually what prompted this post. I had another idea for Suzanne, but the idea intrigued me too much to let it go. And I’m getting superb feedback from Suzanne’s readers!

      I love the movie analogy. Sometimes I have to turn that off because then I start seeing the movie the way I want it to go, and not the way the book is taking me. Like, the characters need some sexy time, or someone needs to be killed, but maybe that’s just me.

      • I’m so there with you and laughing, because I don’t think we’ll ever change. That’s why we write. To create the stories we want. Hmm. I wonder if I’ll end up with all my husband’s friends writing screen plays because I can’t get the movies out of my head. It’s a curious thought.

  13. I like enough description for me to get the idea of people and places, but the action is what gets me reading eagerly on to see what happens. 😀

  14. I like enough description to support the setting that if a reader who have been to a place, he/she would recognize the place and if a reader who have never been there, would be able to identify with the location. There has to be enough description to appeal with the senses of the reader to connect to the story as well as the characters and storyline.

    • Hey Kai, I totally agree. Enough to draw you in, but not so much that you start to yawn and think of sandwiches. Thanks to all these fabulous comments, I’m going back and making sure I don’t have too much description. Excellent stuff here!

  15. I want enough of a description to help me imagine the setting, but not so much that I skip over an entire paragraph of actionless, unimportant detail. I do not need to know about every rhinestone on a dress or every flower on the wallpaper. 🙂 And I hate reading the same phrase over and over in a book.

    • That ‘actionless’ part is the kicker! I think everyone here is in agreement that there needs to be description, but just enough that it doesn’t bog down the action. Which I love!

      Okay wait, you don’t want to know that the dress has 5,442 sparkling white diamonds, 233 green topaz, princess cut, and 16 black opals? I’ll be right back, I need to cut a scene… just kidding! I’m totally with you. If it has rhinestones, fine, but that’s all I need to know it sparkles. 🙂

      Okay, true confession time ~ I often get a phrase stuck in my head and repeat it without even noticing. Oops! In the book that’s due out in September, I apparently loved, ‘In that moment’. I had it at least six times. That’s why beta readers are GOLD! They find all the little things we sometimes skip. So, if you ever want to beta read for me, I’d be happy to have you! I love a detailed, action craving reader. 🙂

      • I would enjoy beta reading for you. 🙂 Found your Facebook page – you have a new fan. Thanks for visiting with Suzanne and chatting with us.

  16. I always appreciate the research done. I don’t like to get bogged down in a lot of description or detail given to me in one hit. It is best if it unfolds along with the story.

    • Yes! All at once is terribly daunting. I like it in bits and pieces so I can process it along with what’s going on in the story. Great point! And thank you for appreciating the research. It takes loads of time, but I think makes books stronger.

  17. I’m kind of an in between. I’ve read some stories where theres almost too much description and you just get so lost and the story doesn’t really move forward. So enough to understand the scenery and stuff but not to much that it loses focus.

    • And there in lies the rub! It’s that sweet spot that is so hard to find, but find it we must! Love your username! And I notice you commented at night ~ hmmm… 😉

  18. I love descriptions in my books. I am a huge Bertrice Small fan, and she describes everything, the food, the dresses, and I love it. So in Urban Fantasy, yes please, describe the noise and the smells, but don’t describe the vomit in detail please, some details go too far 😉

    • Oooh, I’ve not read Beatrice. She sounds intriguing! And I agree about the vomit. I think you just have to say the word and people immediately get the feel, smell, taste of it. Eww.

  19. i love good descriptions in a book when it add something to the story or to the psychology of a character, it’s what drew me in Suzanne’s book at first when i only had some excerpts to read it was so well described that i could imagine being in New Orleans , the sounds, the weather and everything that comes with it can add a totally new level

    now yes writing several descriptions page about a dress that would be too much for me and some gruesome scene i prefer light description too but a good book need description and when the author knows what she is speaking off ( having visited, lived the experience or in the city, has done a lot of researsh) as a reader we can feel it and and i do appreciate that and all the efforts it requires a lot

    • Miki, thanks for your reply! The weather is crucial, too. That’s something I often take for granted, but you’re right, it’s important to set the mood. As well as psychology of the character. You’re totally spot on there as well.

      We’ve been discussing dresses, knives, and streets so much, I hadn’t really thought about gruesome scenes. Brevity is definitely good for those instances. Too much and it’s just gore. I get squeamish when I see blood, but somehow writing about it is fun. That might say something about me… hmm, I’m just going to assume it’s because I know it’s not real. Yeah, let’s just go with that. 😉

  20. I love descriptions, especially in fantasy, of nature or cities. I like them to be detailed but then not too detailed, many pages long. I love reading descriptions of different places I never saw or cities I want to visit or places that only exist in someones imagination 🙂

    • Me too, Lea. When I read about fantasy worlds, or even places here on Earth that I’ve never been, it makes me want to go on a journey, in real life if I can, or just in my own mind if it’s fantasy. That’s when it’s magical.