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How Would You Describe the Listed Towers?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Jdailey1991, Apr 29, 2018.

  1. Jdailey1991

    Jdailey1991 Troubadour

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    As many writers know, some things are harder to describe than others. Case in point--skyscrapers. They are not simple rectangles standing high to the heavens. They have shapes that give them certain personalities and characteristics.

    The skyscrapers in the image below are proposed yet never fulfilled, a fate that could inspire worldbuilders and alternate history writers. (The Volkshalle dome in Man in the High Castle brings to mind.)

    In the image, the buildings are of different color. In this question, only the ones in the foreground are the focus. The dark greys are completed. The blacks are proposed, but never finished. Some I can describe easily, but listed below are those that are much more challenging:

    • India Tower
    • Miapolis
    • Madinat al-Hareer
    • Kingdom Tower
    • Azerbaijan Tower
    • Nakheel Tower
    • The Illinois
    • Al Jaber Tower
    • Aeropolis 2001
    • Dubai City Tower

    In a question of help, how would YOU describe the listed towers?

    To provide a clear example, if I were looking at Sky City in Changsha from a distance, I would describe it as a narrow wedding cake with four or five layers.

    [​IMG]
    Copyright Halcyon Maps
     
  2. Yora

    Yora Sage

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    I wouldn't try to describe how they look, but rather how you think the readers should feel they look. Give them an impression of how the look feels and concentrate on that. The actual details are not really important and can be filled in by the readers with something that they think looks appropriate to match the description.
     
  3. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

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    I'll add to Yora by suggesting you personify them a little. Give them a human personality. Describe them as "friendly, inviting, cosmopolitan, spry" and so forth.
     
  4. Jdailey1991

    Jdailey1991 Troubadour

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    Yes, they are. It's how I plan to categorize them when I write my alternate history textbook.
     
  5. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    Look at the images you can find online, take the one or two features that stand out most and list them side by side for each mega tower,
    Look at what is the difference between them. Use that as the start of your physical description.
    I think Yora and WooHooMan have it write, the descriptions should be about your character reacting and interacting with the buildings. If a place is full of thieves and swindlers it will evoque other responses to one that is a sanctuary...
    Every time I look at the Chrysler Building I swear I can smell toast. I grew up with a Toaster that had the same curves.
     
  6. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    How something is described and the words used to describe depend on what you're trying to convey and who the POV character is and how they're feeling.

    If my POV character is happy, I certainly wouldn't use words that imply sadness. If an attribute of my POV character is that they speak with a simple vocabulary, I wouldn't use polysyllabic words. If I'm trying to convey the towers are grand, I find the words to convey that. If I'm trying to convey the towers are dark and sinister, I find the words to convey that.

    Description comes from context. Description convey's meaning and emotion, otherwise it's just a bland wikipedia entry.

    I could tell you how I'd describe something, but it's not how your character would describe it. It wouldn't have any meaning to your story or convey the necessary emotion for that moment.
     
  7. Jdailey1991

    Jdailey1991 Troubadour

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    "Character"? I'm asking this so I can categorize for my alternate history textbook without saying something as visually hard for the reader to imagine as "Miaopolis-type" or "Chicago-type".
     
  8. Jdailey1991

    Jdailey1991 Troubadour

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    "Character"? I'm asking this so I can categorize for my alternate history textbook without saying something as visually hard for the reader to imagine as "Miaopolis-type" or "Chicago-type".
     
  9. Jdailey1991

    Jdailey1991 Troubadour

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    "Character"? I'm asking this so I can categorize for my alternate history textbook without saying something as visually hard for the reader to imagine as "Miaopolis-type" or "Chicago-type".
     
  10. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    As I don't have a background in Architecture, I would include a picture.
    A line drawing would probably do showing what it looks like.
    Pick what you think are the salient features. Are they organic, pointy, square, segmented etc?
    And work from there. I had a look at a few of those you listed and most of them I would describe as pointy...
     
  11. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Well, the folks here write fantasy fiction, not textbooks (that's why they immediately suggest describing in terms of character perception), so this may not be quite the right crowd. Why not have a go at your own description, then offer it in the Showcase for feedback?
     
  12. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    Most here write stories. Without giving context, most will assume you are asking in regards to a story. I suggest if you want a clear response, ask a clear question. Otherwise you get what you get.
     
  13. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    Actually, this is probably enough for me. I mean, I already know what skyscrapers look like, and unless something about them really matters to the story, I can just go 'skyscrapers, got it...'

    However, they do sometimes matter. For example Gotham City vs Metropolis are two very different looking cities, structures such to match the tale of the hero they are trying to tell. Gotham with its dark stone architecture, wide spires and gargoyles, kind of like an old cemetery, and Metropolis with the silver steel and gleaming glass beneath the gold spire holding the globe above the daily planet. Buy why go deeper than that?

    If you are really writing a text book, I would expect graphic images and exhibits along side the text. So...for the difficult ones, why not include that?

    You could take the time to lay all the details. But the deeper in you go, the more lost in the weeds I suspect the piece will feel.

    I would suggest this, go get an RPG book. One that describes Greyhawk, or the nine planes or something. They do manage to pull off something like this without losing the readers.
     
  14. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    [​IMG]

    So, I included Miapolis. This one kind of looks like something out of Star Wars, Rouge One.

    I would say, a lone spire, standing against the sea, surrounded by structures like white robed priests with smooth tops, as if pay homage from the land set away and never to actually approach. And a vanguard of smaller buildings, domiciles and towers along a thin strip of land, stationed as if to keep the monster of the sea from crashing in. A crown rising high above the water.

    How'd I do? truth is, I don't think it matters the picture, I sure I could find something to say.

    But if you want to me to stop and say two black and silver towers here, and two twin buildings on the spar over there, and on an island nearby two with rounded walls... I don't think readers will care about that.

    This picture strikes me as a king and his admirers.


    So, I understand Miapolis is supposed to be in Miami? Is it really wise to try and build the worlds tallest building where there are so many hurricanes? I would not want to live in it.
     
  15. Jdailey1991

    Jdailey1991 Troubadour

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    Textbook is the blueprint for story, that's my rule. As for going deeper, we are a visual species, and vague descriptions don't help spark the imagination.
     
  16. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    Not really correct... While it may not help you with the thing you are trying to make, vague descriptions can direct away from details that do not matter and towards those that do. It is a mistake to think that because you did not describe the tree, the reader had no image of one. And if we are a visual species, then we should make movies instead. Writing has the power to bring in much more than just the visual, its just a matter of spinning it right. I cant tell you what the tree the scout climbed in the opening of Game of Thrones looked like, but I can tell you what the dagger tasted like, cause that was the detail he put in. How would I describe the two towers? well, if they did not matter to the story much, vaguely.

    But that is all off the point. I am getting impression you want plan out with words what I might go to a map to see. Again, I would point you to some of the Role Playing aids for lands and places. Sounds like you want something like can be found here:

    Greyhawk Mysterious Places
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2018
  17. Jdailey1991

    Jdailey1991 Troubadour

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    That doesn't really answer the question. I need that description so that when I get to the point in my alternate history textbook where post-war skyscrapers were being built, it'd be easier for me to categorize. Look again at how I'd described Sky City. I can easily categorize a series of identical skyscrapers, all of which resemble Kingdom Tower, as "Kingdom-type", but what does that mean?
     
  18. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    You are aware your picture is not showing up?
     
  19. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    Okay, I was not following this. You want me to look up all of those towers and provide a description of each?

    Well, I can do that, but the goal is for you to be able to do it on your own... Why are you finding this difficult? See I know this is along the lines of theory, but you need to be able to look into your minds eye and describe what you see, only...you can never describe all of it, you have to get a feel for what stands out, what is important about it, what helps set the mood, and when is enough enough.

    I'd rather see samples of your writing and see if I can make suggestions.


    Here is the picture that will not show...


    [​IMG]


    Well, this one does look like a cake. In some contexts that would be a fine description. You think it is not?

    I would say, a single steel spire pointing towards the sky, resting upon five tiers, one larger than the next, and a garden of trees, lush at its base.
     
  20. Jdailey1991

    Jdailey1991 Troubadour

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    This is the image I was referring to.

    As you can see, the towers listed in the post are so irregulary shaped that it's hard for me to describe properly.
     
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