To be honest, Guardian, I'm having a little bit of trouble following your argument, as most
of what you seem
to be trying to convince me of is what I'm already saying.
Guardian wrote:You're giving properties with every little or major detail. The question is; how you're doing that and what purpose the detail really has. i.e.: a color, a shape is a property of an object, but in most cases readers, usually lazy and impatient ones used to be consider them as meaningless...
This is where we disagree. I don't think readers do automatically assume that details are meaningless as every detail carries meaning whether it's intentional or not. The problem with a writer making off-the-cuff choices with detail is that they might be giving a contradictory impression that will slowly nag at the reader or they are telling the reader they can't be bothered to think about the details they are providing. The other choice, of course, is to not provide detail at all, which sends a clear signal that the detail is unimportant. If it is unimportant, it is preferable to leave it out than to provide a thoughtless description that presents the reader with the wrong symbolism, weak symbolism, an unintentional signal that the detail has significance to the story or to a later event when it does not, or an impression that the writer doesn't care or can't move beyond throwing in thoughtless cliches.
I think if a reader finds, over several encounters, that a writer's detail is pretty but meaningless, they will begin skipping the descriptions. Some readers are okay with this. Others will stop reading that author and give him/her a bad review. Examples for me would be Laurall K Hamilton, Jacqueline Carey, and Cecilia Dart Thornton.
After four books, I know I can skip LKH's setting descriptions during travel scenes. They are pure filler with no later story significance, and this annoys me. I stick with the books because I like studying the way she sets up relationships and because I already know I'm probably going to put the series down in about two more books, when the ardeur is introduced.
Jacqueline Carey is a really masterful writer when it comes to lush descriptions, but I find sometimes she pushes it too far. After two books I had gotten the hang of identifying meaningful descriptions versus pretty setting stuff, and I started skipping those passages. I have more patience for Carey because it's not a huge habit book after book, and because her style and genre have slightly different expectations attached.
CDT includes a level of detail that I first found intoxicating but soon discovered was totally arbitrary, describing everything in beautiful, painstaking detail for no other reason than the love of beautiful, painstaking detail. After awhile it became impossible to determine what was significant and what was just another paragraph of pretty pointless detail. I stopped reading before finishing the first book and never bought another.
My point being that yes, readers do look for meaning in the details, and if they find them consistently lacking, they will lose trust in that writer's style. The degree of lost trust will depend on the reader. I don't find readers lazy. In fact, the first bit of advice Don Maass ever gave me was that I wasn't trusting the audience enough and was doing too much of the work for them.
You gave me two examples of description. The samples would seem to be making a point that more description is better than less, and I don't agree. The right description is not about the number of adjectives or the vividness of word choice but the effectiveness of conveying what you are trying to express. I do agree that the better description is the second, though there are several things about the second description that turn me off a bit. (Sorry, I hope that doesn't offend. These are isolated lines, so there's no way for me to get a feel for context or style or flow.)
Guardian wrote:In this context you get a readable presentation without any true detail.
First, again, you seem to think the choice is no detail or tons of pretty but not terribly meaningful detail. You seem to be missing the concept of making the detail meaningful. If there is nothing meaningful about what is being described, then move on to something that is meaningful.
The difference for me is that the description is more vivid in certain details and meaninglessly cliche in others. Again, this is out of context, so that might sound unfair and harsh, and it might be.
Guardian wrote:In your opinion what are these details in the second version? It's up to you to tell what these details are, as you're the reader and the opinion of the readers are rarely matching with the writer's opinion. So in your opinion, what are they? Meaningless or meaningful details? Minor or major details? Answer these two questions and then read the spoiler to match your answer with my one.
Without context, I as a reader am willing to assume (trust) you have provided certain details for a larger reason.