1. Man in the Box
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    Man in the Box Active Member

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    Alternating dialogue with storytelling

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Man in the Box, Jul 5, 2011.

    I'm having a problem which probably stems from the fact I first imagine my stories as movies instead of actual written material.

    The way I see it, when you write a book you have to add as much necessary detail as possible so that the reader has enough elements to imagine the world he/she's in contact with. Of course, some stuff must be left to imagination, but the reader must have something guiding him/her, so that he/she imagines what we want him/her to imagine.

    My problem is that I don't know how much detail I should add to particular scenes so that they become more interesting. For example, a facial expression, an object, even the weather. I usually either add too much or not enough. And it becomes worse when I write dialogue. In the middle of dialogues I sometimes completely forget to tell the story and focus too much on what the characters are saying, so my dialogue parts consist mostly of only dialogue and not enough detail.

    How can I get the feel for when I add small details to immerse the reader a bit more? And how can I make it so my dialogues aren't restricted to only dialogue?
     
  2. Mr Mr
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    Mr Mr Active Member

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    Strange to learn I'm not the only one to picture my stories as movies first.

    I have the same problem, one thing I do is write the dialogue then go back over and add in detail (facial expressions, movement, actions etc)
     
  3. Midnight_Adventurer
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    Midnight_Adventurer Active Member

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    Hi Man in the Box,

    It's not an uncommon problem and many of us imagine our stories like that. My advice would be to just get your story written. Don't fret about details missing or having too many, that's why the editing process is there. Once you’ve got a draft to work with you can get people, not necessarily family, to read over it and tell you some of the problem areas. You can even post a few chapters on this site and see what we have to say. For now just focus on writing. I hope that helps.

    Good luck! :)
     
  4. Man in the Box
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    Man in the Box Active Member

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    Thanks for the advice. :)

    That's interesting... Reviewing my work is something I always forget to do. In fact, my technique is all wrong, because I take long to write since I want to get it perfect on the first try. It's always been like that with everything I've done, and not only my stories, but also university work. People keep telling me that I shouldn't worry to get it perfect with only a single attempt, yet I keep making this mistake because I, well I don't know, maybe I'm either lazy or get bored easily and don't want to come back to an earlier point to review it and check for any mistakes. This subject could be worthy of another thread.

    Posting here would take some work since I'm writing my story in my native language (which is not English) and, although my English is good, my vocabulary is not that extensive.
     
  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Getting it right the first time is, IMO, the hardest and least efficient way to get it done. Writing a quick and sloppy first draft and fixing it up generally takes much, much less time and effort.

    Is it also maybe perfectionism, a fear of even briefly seeing bad work on the page?

    ChickenFreak
     
  6. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    The great part is that it's up to you. It depends on what style you prefer to use. Some people pride themselves on their extremely descriptive prose, and others pride themselves on minimalism. There's no right or wrong. There's only what's comfortable. Just like pants.
     
  7. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd draw the line at Hammer pants though.

    If you really want to learn what works, you should read a lot and really study how other authors does it. Pick out someone known for their flowery prose and someone known for minimalism, and see what you prefer, if either. Truly see what words they use, how they form their sentences and what it means. Pick it apart and be brutal. That's what worked for me anyway :)
     
  8. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Although CF has already kind of covered this, it bears repeating. It's not wrong, and you need to write in whatever way is comfortable for you. Other people can't tell you what your favorite foods are, your favorite drink, what values are important to you. You decide those on your own and they can't be wrong, because they're what you like and what's important to you. You write the way the words come to you.

    You're not the only one who sees stories as movies, as you've been told already. I do too. What I do is really look at the scenes in my head, what are the characters doing? What are they seeing? What should they be feeling? Are there any smells or sounds they should be noticing. That's one of the biggest things I think people like us miss, all of the senses have to be represented as needed or it doesn't come across as real. It comes across as two dimensional.

    And your work should always be reviewed. By yourself and someone else when you're done. No matter how perfect you make it, you will miss things. It happens.
     
  9. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I used to have the opposite problem. I could plan out stories, but half the time the plot revolved around observations of a lone character, so dialogue hardly ever featured.
    But--you say you think of your stories like movies? Well, often half a movie relies on watching a character's reaction, showing setting etc. Maybe you could try watching a favourite part of a movie and thinking about how much is dialogue and how much 'visual description'? It might be a good exercise for you to attempt writing out a scene with a balance of dialogue and description based on that.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sounds to me like you need to read more good writing... and do so constantly... you'll find the answers to all your questions in the best works by the best writers of any time period since humans drew their stories on their walls...
     
  11. Shahar
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    Shahar Member

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    I recently discovered I have the same problem. Reading helps. As you read, take time to notice the sturcture of each prograph. But for a more immidiate improvement; I find it useful to make a quick sketch of scenes I'm having trouble with.
     
  12. Man in the Box
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    Man in the Box Active Member

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    Wow, many thanks for the ideas! I'll surely put them to good use.

    I've been wondering if sometimes I'm not thorough enough because I maybe simply am not the type with a good imagination. Sometimes, I'm in dire need of ideas. It doesn't happen only with the book, but also with the work I had to write as a pre-requisite for my graduation at university. I went with a subpar idea because I lacked a better one. I made the most out of it, but when I finished my work I felt I could've gone into a different direction.

    This is where reading more could help me, I guess.
     

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