Hunger Games Descriptions

270 words.

Originally posted on my writing blog which was active from 2010 to 2018.

As I’m reading the Hunger Games trilogy (I’m on the last book now), I am trying to analyze why it is so popular and addictive. The story is okay, the characters are okay, the setting is okay, but somehow it adds up to something greater than the sum of its parts. Maybe it’s all marketing.

One thing I noticed just now, which contributes to the fast-paced, concise text: There are hardly any descriptions of the settings. Most of it must be filled in by the reader’s imagination. As an example, from Chapter 6 of Mockingjay:

…the doors open on the Hangar.

“Oh,” I let out involuntarily at the sight of the fleet. Row after row of different kinds of hovercraft.

That’s it. That’s literally the entire description of what in my mind must be a giant facility with tons of unfamiliar and interesting stuff to look at and describe. (In the movie version, I’m sure it will be an elaborate CG-enhanced shot that the characters will be walking through.) Collins only writes a hint of where the characters are. But somehow it’s enough to get us from scene A to scene B. And because we’re really only interested in finding out what happens next, we don’t really care.

Maybe lack of description is a “feature” of Young Adult books. I suppose I’ll have to suck it up and read some other YA books to find out.

Anyway, for me, as a person who constantly worries that I’m not writing enough description, it’s a big relief to know that a hit book doesn’t require much.

P.S. “I let out involuntarily?” Really?

This page is a static archival copy of what was originally a WordPress post. It was converted from HTML to Markdown format before being built by Hugo. There may be formatting problems that I haven't addressed yet. There may be problems with missing or mangled images that I haven't fixed yet. There may have been comments on the original post, which I have archived, but I haven't quite worked out how to show them on the new site.

Note: Comments are disabled on older posts.