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Description aids

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by wordwalker, Dec 25, 2012.

  1. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

    Description is getting to be the hardest thing for me to write.

    I know (and lecture about :)) the basics of which parts of a moment to consider mentioning, and ways to squeeze them into sentences. But it's still always the bulk of my effort just to picture what's there.

    Worse, I'm thinking more and more that description might be one of the best tools for giving a story that extra level of oomph, whether it's more fey beauty or more backalley bloodiness. (I keep following the "World Building > Writing Skill" thread and wondering how much of that world-power comes just from describing what you have well.)

    So, does anyone have any thoughts or tools on making description more effective, or easier to write-- or just easier to research the details that keep coming up?
  2. Rullenzar

    Rullenzar Troubadour

    When your writing any sort of scene and you know what you want it to feel like, jot down notes about all 5 senses in that scene.
    Then try to work them in using a creative method. It could be your character slipping and falling on blood in a stingy alleyway because of poor lighting. Or, maybe your character hears footsteps and cowers behind some garbage placing his fingers in some blood. Point is, once you have ideas jotted down for your 5 senses you can work on being very creative in your portrayal. Showing seems to be the favorite among readers but there are times telling can work better.

    Dialogue can be a useful tool in bringing these scenes to light as well. It's a more difficult way of doing it but through your characters emotions a reader can get an idea of their surroundings too.

    Hopefully that answered your question, if not maybe I misunderstood.
  3. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    Last edited: Dec 25, 2012
  4. Shockley

    Shockley Maester

    Well, it's more about setting the character. You can talk about your new flora/fauna all you want, and using the most beautiful terms, but does that really help your story? The best thing that I've found is to have the character react to the things that you're describing.

    'The repugnant odor of the clafe flower wafted to the rafters' is not as good as 'Bill's face wrinkled in disgust at the smell of the over-sweet clafe flower.'
  5. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

    I'm fairly minimal with description on the first draft. During the later revisions I will devote one of them to improving description on important details. As I'm reading thru on that revision, I'm looking at anything I should draw the reader's attention to (or away from). The more important the need to focus or muddy the water, the greater the level of description.
  6. Addison

    Addison Auror

    Here's an exercise my CW teacher had my class do. In groups at a time we went outside, came back and wrote a one-paragraph description. Then we went to the cafeteria, the empty classroom and the bus stop. Writing a one-paragraph description of each place. When we were done we each read our paragraphs aloud and he noted how most of us were first stricken by what we saw in most places. Others first wrote about what they heard, what they smelled, what they felt.....one student actually wrote about what they felt INSIDE. Like a sixth sense, which can be used.

    Try this exercise yourself. Pick six places in your life (different rooms of your house don't count) and write a one paragraph description of each one. Start at home and work in a circle. When you get back re-read them and see which sense(s) you used the most in your descriptions. Then go back to those same places and write the description again using the senses you either didn't use or used the least.

    Some senses come hand-in-hand. If you write a scene and you describe the frosted windows the reader will automatically feel cold. A room with closed windows, dark room and three red candles will feel scared, wary. That is how the five senses can apply to the sixth sense.

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