Before ease of travel….before the Internet, long descriptions at the start of a book were important. It was a way for a writer to put the reader in the character’s world because it was highly likely the reader had never even seen a picture of such a place. Now, you often hear people loathe books which start with a description of the location or the weather.
People these days have seen images of even the most remote locations. The Internet has truly brought the world into many homes. But there are cases where the weather itself is an important part of the story, a character, if you will, and description is clearly important. Think – The Perfect Storm, Twister, or Sharknado!
But even if location and weather don’t play a big role, a writer may still need to provide a clear description because not every person’s vision of a place is the same. If I were to write a novel with the following first line, “I sat in the sand watching the waves,” what vision would be inside your head? The one pictured above on the left or on the right? Both are of Panama City Beach, Florida, taken two days apart. Each one tells a very different story.