A good story makes you see, hear and feel everything the characters experience. However, think about it: if you live next to a busy road, you eventually stop hearing the traffic. Heck, it goes much further than that. You don’t feel the fabric of your clothes on your skin unless you think about it, you don’t hear every minor hum or whistle. Your body blocks out all that extraneous stuff so you don’t go crazy.
The same thing is needed in books. Yes, we want to experience what the characters are going through, we no more want to have every over-wrought, over-written piece of information that occurs in the character’s “life” than we do our own.
Description in stories is a delicate balance. I’ve read books where the author has to tell you the day every freckle popped up on a minor character’s face, or gone into detail about every piece of furniture in a room the characters pass through and never return to. I’ve also read the complete opposite and it creates a disconnect, another situation you want to avoid.
In order to be truly evocative, you have to be able to describe well. This can lead to bogging down. “I walked into a kitchen painted a blinding white, my shoes clipping on rusted tile and kicking into the forgotten groceries more than once.” Pick one thing and describe it, then get into the other stuff as it becomes important. Make the reader feel what’s going on, but don’t weigh them down. They have to be able to move through the story or they’ll end up skipping places and maybe missing something that’s important.
My advice is to watch for information dump and large blocks of text. Highlight them and read them separately from the book. Maybe even paste them into new documents and change the font so it seems like you’re reading something new. And of course, get beta readers who to tell you if any part throws them out of the story.
Well, that’s my two cents. Do you fear over/under description? Do you have any good methods to combat it?