Moreover, they make a perfect matched set.
The first: an example of “judicious reading” from SF&F Novelists. I think Gardner does this sort of thing very well, precisely because he makes obvious what we knew all along. I have read War of the Worlds perhaps half a dozen times, and every time I read that opening paragraph I got exactly the impressions and had exactly the reactions he describes. Every time. Without even once being conscious of them. What technique Wells had! I must remember to try this on a few short passages in some of my personal favorites, and see what I uncover.
The second: Ann Wilkes, coming from the opposite end of the spectrum, reports on why she needs her nephew’s inquisitive nature when building a world. Description also seems to be my weak point in my writing, but for a different reason: when I am writing an involved scene, I’m there. It never occurs to me to write about any detail besides the ones I must notice to tell the story to a reader, and often not even those — because they’re so obvious to me that they barely seem worth mentioning. Yes, paradoxical. And apparently how my mind works.
Perhaps writing is, in essence, the art of being obvious. Thoughts?