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Expressing Motion

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Mythopoet, Aug 24, 2017.

  1. Creed

    Creed Sage

    A while ago there was a post on the Mythic Scribes article page about dialogue and how to make it more engaging. The article used some Game of Thrones televisual examples to describe the technique of including actions that parallel, contrast, or alter the nature of the conversation. GoT has some wonderful scenes with symbology (such as Tywin Lannister skinning and gutting a stag while talking to his son) and apparent metaphors (the article cited a conversation between two characters who did not trust each other: they were drinking tea, and Ned found the drink much too sweet (i.e. he was put off by honeyed words)).

    I think that's a very powerful concept, and one that can be applied here.

    Most of the minute, floating descriptors are things I might include in a first draft, and then weed out. Hands and feet are pretty telling in real life, however, so as in the examples above like Devor's, the hands are actually pulling their weight. There's a reason Shakespeare described what characters were doing with their hands so often.

    There's also that rule about every scene needing to accomplish at least one of three things: advancing plot, deepening character, exploring world. It can be kinda used on the micro scale. The example cited in the OP is an uninteresting play-by-play (from the outside) and it seems to exist just to keep the scene grounded in visual space. So...

    If you want to be visual and make a movie in your reader's head, I'd suggest leaning more towards the Game of Thrones method of making the actions purposive. Steerpike's example is in line with this: Unless your goal is to show me a character's reliance on habit/processes, I don't need to understand their morning routine.So it can be condensed/cut. The stroke example is also interesting. Walking through doors and putting down mugs is not, unless the door is particularly foreboding or you're slamming down the mug.
  2. R Snyder

    R Snyder Dreamer

    Detail, Detail

    That was long, but well written and your thought (what you strongly dislike) came through in good shape. One of my favorite literary figures, is the great William Goldman. (There are a few youtube videos that are fun to watch. The guy is so straight forward.) He's written novels and screenplays, of writing -- I believe it was Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid -- he said he wrote it as a screenplay because he didn't want to have to write, to deal with, 'all the mechanical shit'. Getting characters on and off horses and in and out of rooms and so on. Let other people write that stuff.

    You say 'words can do A LOT that images can't' and I reflexively think: A picture is worth a thousand words. When writing a scene, how much detail is required? Sometimes a lot but generally, less is more. It can be tedious, unnecessary, and bog things down. My favorite author is James Lee Burke (for his Dave Robicheaux novels), and I re-read a few of his books every year. Next time I read one I'll pay attention to the mechanics of characters sitting and picking things up but my overall perception is that it is minimal, and natural. Definitely something to think about and be aware of.

    Contemporary writing styles . . . I don't read as much as I used to and when I do, I'm just as likely to seek out something I read and enjoyed a decade or so ago. Or I'll check to see if Kazuo Ishiguro has written anything new. I do poke around and I believe that there is a lot of really bad writing and storytelling going on, but maybe it's always been like that.

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