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How to describe rare Transportation well?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Writer’s_Magic, Apr 18, 2018.

  1. It doesn’t matter if you choose motor-operated or animal transportation. Often it’s easy to describe them.—So, if you know them well, and how it feels when you use them.
    But what if I wanna write about a rare transportation e.g. a zip line? How would you describe them? Do you have any tip?
  2. Yora

    Yora Maester

    Research. This is exactly the kind of situation where research becomes important, even when the story takes place in a completely made up world and nothing in it is in any ways constrained by what actually does and did exist on Earth. If you want to describe something that doesn't exist on Earth, then think of whatever is the most similar to it. Then try to learn the basics of how that works, or if it is going to be a major element of the story, try to learn some of the finer details as well. This will help you a lot with being able to describe it in a way that feels like it could be right, even to people who know a bit about it.

    For example, things I researched are how bronze is being made with ancient tools, how sailing ships are steered, how much speed and stamina horses have, or how combat in formation works. Everything about how people actually fight with various weapons is something that always should be researched because what you see in movies is almost always completely wrong.
    Dark Squiggle and Geo like this.
  3. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

    Are the new things new to your knowledge or to your characters?
    That can affect how you need to describe it. I read a story where a Horse Collar was introduced to a society that hadn't seen or used one before and its use took a lot of explaining in the story.
    Dark Squiggle likes this.
  4. Never I tried a zip line. ... So, I would say both.
  5. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    No tips, other than to write it. Only then will you know the kinds of strengths and weaknesses that are specific to you. Only after that will you know what steps to take to improve. And only after *that* will you know what tips will help.
  6. skip.knoxskip.knox Well, how to improve when I don’t know how it’s feel.
  7. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

    Best would be to take a field trip and use one.

    Some zip lines I have seen have a harness or a little seat you sit in, in the army, I think we used a type of handle we held on to.

    Mostly you just hang and drop, and hope nothing bad happens. Add the feel of air rushing past, and the feel of the harness or the seat holding you up and that's pretty much it.

    There is a pretty long zip line scene in one of the divergent movies.

    Here's a video. Cut about half way in, add more excitement as needed.

    Last edited: Apr 19, 2018
  8. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    I write about all kinds of things that I not only have never experienced, but can never experience. Even if you do take a zip line ride, as pmmg suggests, that's just you and that's just one ride. And it still wouldn't guarantee that your description would resonate with your readers.

    Yes, do research. You don't want to claim that you can go a thousand miles an hour on a zip line, or that you can go uphill with one (unless it's magic powered--ooh!), or that the way you travel on a zip line is to stand on top of the cable. But delivering means using your own words. Period.

    You are asking how to build something without ever building something. Look at blueprints, study tools, you bet. But sooner or later you build something and see if it works. Then you build a better something.

    The advice is not mine; it is universal. The way to learn how to write is to write, then get feedback, then write better.
    pmmg likes this.
  9. Dark Squiggle

    Dark Squiggle Troubadour

    Well there are cable cars that are in effect do go uphill with ziplines - ropeways, gondola lifts, and Aerial Tramways are all glorified ziplines that can go uphill. The first recorded one was built in 1644 by Fausto Veranzio and was horse driven, but it used technology that was easily 3000 years old, so it would not look out of place in most Fantasy settings.
  10. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

    Best way is probably to find the transportation method and try it out for yourself, And then write down your scene while the experience is pretty fresh.
  11. psychotick

    psychotick Auror


    Look for other terms for the device. For example here in New Zealand we would probably call a zip line a flying fox. Not sure if they use the term elsewhere.

    Cheers, Greg.
  12. Malik

    Malik Auror

    + eleventy billion on doing it if you can. I literally went ziplining before writing about it. I spent the whole day out there, and wrote pages and pages of notes and journal entries. The great part about doing it yourself is that it enables you to write about it from an emotional angle instead of a purely theoretical one. There's a massive difference in describing something that you understand and describing something that you've experienced, and it's the difference between suspension of disbelief (getting your facts straight) and immersion (putting your reader in your world). You need to do both to really sell it. And doing these things, experiential research, leads to experiences that you will tell stories about over beers later. Those stories find their way into your larger stories, and they hone your craft as a storyteller.

    You can always improvise and imagineer--imagination is our stock in trade--but there's nothing like the rush in your gut stepping off the platform to really get the creativity moving. Do it whenever you can.

    Zip Line 2.jpg Zip Line.jpg

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