1. Honeybun
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    Honeybun Active Member

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    Adding description and life to my story

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Honeybun, Apr 26, 2009.

    Hi,

    I was wondering if you guys could help me with this, as it seems a terrible weakness in my writing. I don't seem to be able to describe my characters well in a story, so that they're kind of round and real. Also, I couldn't get myself to describe the setting pretty well, like a room or a specific surrounding in terms of smell, color to name a few.

    If anyone has any advice as to what kind of practice I need to do in order to improve such aspect in writing, I would be really glad and appreciate it. Any sites and sources would be nice to know of.

    I hope that made sense.:redface:


    Thank you :)
     
  2. Honeybun
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    Honeybun Active Member

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    Thanks Banzai. What I've come up with is reading different genres lately (basically fiction) and I have a small notebook nearby to jot down descriptions and expressions. I might as well use them from time to time... I assume that's ok?
     
  3. Nervous1st
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    Nervous1st Senior Member

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    Honeybun... that is a good question, it's something I've been meaning to ask.

    I too, keep a note pad when I'm reading and jot down general phrases and descriptions but I often wonder if and how much you can use in your own work.

    Also, to answer your question, I find reading and taking notes the best way to improve descriptions.

    Good luck
     
  4. RIPPA MATE
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    RIPPA MATE Contributing Member

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    be aware, that describing a character's appearence doesn't neccesarally make the character more real and believable. It is his actions and motive that add depth and beleivability to a character.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If you copy someone else's decriptions into your own writing, with or without modification, you are plagiarizing.

    If you lear from the descriptive styles of other writers and use that knowledge to improve your own descriptive style, that is good writing practice.

    The line does get fuzzy, and accordingly difficult to enforce, but the gist of it is, keep other people's writing out of your writing.

    When and how to use description is part of individual writing style. There are extremes of too much or too little tat nearly everyone can agree upon, but much of it is a matter of judgment and your own personal voice as a writer.

    But just because you think it's a matter of description does not mean it really is. You may need to show your characters in action more to develop the reader's image of each one. You may need to shape the way one character reacts to another instead of giving an author's eye view. Description isn't te only thing that adds dimension.
     
  6. Honeybun
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    Honeybun Active Member

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    Thanks guys.

    Banzai, I completely agree that one must keep reading and writing in order to improve.

    Nervous and RIPPA thanks to you too. I wasn't entirely concerned about describing my characters to the fullest, but only to an extent that readers might relate to or something, you know, to be able to imagine them in some way.

    Cogito, thanks for the feedback. I most certainly will not copy and paste other writiers' phrases to start with lol I'm well aware of synonyms and paraphrasing ;)
     
  7. writing4me
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    writing4me Member

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    I've had this problem, and the only thing I could do to improve it is just write. Even if you're just sitting in a room, write down in your pad what you see. What you write down might look confusing and choppy but you can always rephrase it. That's the only advice I have. Hope it help.

    CJ
     
  8. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    It also helps to note down the order that you notice things, and some descriptions are so tedious because they have minute detail that would not be apparent at all anyway. You get something like:
    'The man passed me, the belt of his buckle glinting in the moonlight. The collar of his blue and yellow checked shirt was frayed...'
     
  9. LordKyleOfEarth
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    LordKyleOfEarth Contributing Member Contributor

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    Try giving each character 3 descriptors (i.e. Black hair, plays piano, walks with a limp or Female, from the deep south, never drives on the highway.) that should help you to connect them better to the reader. It may sound silly but give it a whirl and see what happens.

    Regarding describing things, try these exercises:
    1) Go to a place where stuff is happening and close your eyes. Open them and then record EVERYTHING there. Try to record every detail, but do not interpret any of it. Draw no conclusions, don't analyze the scene in any way, just record it.

    2) Go to a place and close your eyes. Describe the place now that you cannot see. Use all your other senses. Humans experience the world five ways, but too often as writers we just describe scenes with our eyes.
     
  10. Honeybun
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    Honeybun Active Member

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    writing4me , madhoca and Lord, thanks for your info, it was really interesting. Although description might be a tedious process at some point, it really adds to a story, not just to cram a load of dialogue and that's it.

    Thanks again :)
     
  11. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    I wouldn't paraphrase or use synonyms either...

    The best thing you can do to help your writing when it comes to people is be around people! Take notes on behavior and reactions... watch facial expressions and write that down. Reading helps, of course, but not if all you plan to do is look for how another author uses a style and then attempt to mimic them. Writing is all about expression of self--using someone else's style will *always* feel alien and wrong...because it's not *you.*
     
  12. Honeybun
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    Honeybun Active Member

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    Thanks Lynn that does make sense :-D

    I think my next attempt would be to go somewhere to observe people around me, maybe a cafè?

    Thanks :)
     

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