1. ZedZatta
    Offline

    ZedZatta Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2014
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    7

    Describing Beauty

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by ZedZatta, Feb 28, 2015.

    I have a bit of a problem. A character in my story is having an inner monologue describing the girl he fancies, but whatever I write about the subject just seem a bit stale and sloppy. This is what I got so far:

    "The sun reflecting through the water drops after summer rain is beautiful. A painting, painstakingly drawn from blood, tears and passion, is beautiful. Love is beautiful. To say that Sarah Johnsson was beautiful was an understatement. She was like seeing the last single beam of light from the sunset illuminating the surface of the endless ocean. She was like a painted masterpiece, with its greatness so absolute making the artist go mad with the realisation of never achieving anything nearly as perfect. She was like love, the one and only love, the kinda love that one would find themselves lucky to perceive only for a blink of an eye. The kinda love artist and musicians have tried to pinpoint since the dawn of art. Sarah Johnsson was simply gorgeous beyond proper comprehension"

    Sorry for making it seem like I want someone else writing my own story, but I would gladly appreciate criticism, suggestions and/or an alternative path to tackle the subject of describing beauty.
     
  2. theoriginalmonsterman
    Offline

    theoriginalmonsterman Pickle Contest Administrator Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2014
    Messages:
    528
    Likes Received:
    252
    Location:
    [REDACTED]
    It's pretty good, but I feel you could probably cut some of that out. You compare this girl to art 3 times... you don't really need to dedicate an entire paragraph to describing a girl's beauty unless that's what the story is about. It's more meaningful when you keep it short and sweet anyways and it's more memorable for the reader.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2015
  3. cutecat22
    Offline

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2014
    Messages:
    2,434
    Likes Received:
    1,063
    Location:
    England
    I wouldn't change that much.

    Sunlight reflecting through the droplets of a rainy summer's day is beautiful. A work of art, painstakingly drawn with blood, tears and passion, is beautiful. Love itself is beautiful.
    To say that Sarah Johnsson was just, beautiful, was an understatement. Sarah Johnsson was as beautiful as seeing the last beam of light from the sunset illuminate the surface of an endless ocean. She was like a painted masterpiece that could drive the artist insane with the realisation they could never achieving anything nearly as perfect.
    She was like the ultimate love, the one and only love, the kind of love one would find themselves lucky to perceive in nothing more than the blink of an eye. The kind of love artists and musicians have tried to pinpoint since the dawn of creation.
    Sarah Johnsson was simply beautiful beyond comprehension.
     
  4. Darkkin
    Offline

    Darkkin Reflection of a nobody Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2012
    Messages:
    1,758
    Likes Received:
    515
    Location:
    Following the footprints in the sand...
    Sarah Johnsson. She was the muse that eluded the Old Masters and the great composers. The purity of the daylight's last hurrah, she was beauty in its truest form. She was beyond simple mortal keen.
     
  5. 123456789
    Offline

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    6,347
    Likes Received:
    3,092
    It's not bad BUT, as is, you run the risk of pissing off the reader. What your narratior is essentially saying is that the woman (Sarah Johnsson) is more beautiful than any other woman or anything. And your persistence to mention artists (who are not him) sort of paints this view as an objective truth. Everyone knows there is no one "most beautiful thing." It's very subjective. So your narrator sort of sounds like an asshole.

    In The Woman in White, the first narrator describes the girl he finds most beautiful by telling the reader to imagine the most beautiful girl they've ever seen. It's a little more classy.
     
    tonguetied likes this.
  6. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,978
    Likes Received:
    5,500
    I feel that this isn't about describing Sarah Johnson, it's about describing the feelings and general nature of the person who's describing Sarah Johnson. For example, your example seems to come from the mind of a person who has little self-reflection, who believes that this woman's beauty is absolute, rather than realizing that it's HIM who is perceiving this beauty. That person also seems almost entirely focused on physical, visual beauty--I find myself wondering if he knows, or cares, anything about this woman's personality. I get the vibe of someone obsessed, someone with limited empathy, someone who sees the woman as a beautiful object, someone frankly a little bit scary.

    I have no idea if that's what you're going for.
     
  7. KaTrian
    Offline

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    5,566
    Likes Received:
    3,563
    Location:
    The Great Swamp
    It could be made more concise, but I got a pretty good idea this is his subjective opinion. He adores her beauty. That's sweet. Even if she turned out to be his worst nightmare personality-wise, he could continue to appreciate her beauty.
     
    cutecat22 likes this.
  8. Swiveltaffy
    Offline

    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2014
    Messages:
    557
    Likes Received:
    201
    Location:
    Roanoke, TX
    Agreeing with @ChickenFreak, your character seems detached from himself in his description of her beauty. Surely, there is something that he can connect to personally, even if it is simply her physical appearance. Bring it through him, taint her beauty with his subjective account, past, and experience.
     
  9. 123456789
    Offline

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    6,347
    Likes Received:
    3,092
    lots of people admire beautiful women. I'm not sure why that scares you...
     
  10. daemon
    Offline

    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2014
    Messages:
    1,361
    Likes Received:
    982
    What is this intended to convey?
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2015
  11. cutecat22
    Offline

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2014
    Messages:
    2,434
    Likes Received:
    1,063
    Location:
    England
    I see where the op is going. As I read the passage I got more, excited is the wrong word but if I was reading aloud, I would end up reading fast and with a higher voice. The author is using examples to show how beautiful this woman is to the character. It matters not a jott what anyone else thinks, it matters even less that there's no such thing as perfection because to the character doing the describing, Sarah Johnsson is perfection. The character describing her is so besotted by her that she could cut his heart out with a blunt spoon and he would still give her his undying love because to him, she's perfect. I think to shorten it, would take away some of the strength of the character's feelings. Just my opinion.
     
  12. cutecat22
    Offline

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2014
    Messages:
    2,434
    Likes Received:
    1,063
    Location:
    England
    Do you live near the ocean? Have you ever seen that last shaft of sunlight on the water as the sun sets? The first shaft of sunrise reflected on the wet beach or even the silver light of the moon shimmering on the darkness of the sea surrounded by a black night sky with stars that look like pinpoints and no electric or artificial light to spoil the view? I have. I live by the sea and am priveledged to have seen all three and you know what, each one of those views does take your breath away.
     
    Catrin Lewis likes this.
  13. daemon
    Offline

    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2014
    Messages:
    1,361
    Likes Received:
    982
    Yes, I have seen the sun set over several bodies of water, and it was beautiful. I asked @ZedZatta why he chose that specific beautiful image instead of some other beautiful image. What is it specifically about a sunset over water that warrants comparison to Sarah Johnsson?

    In what way is she as beautiful as that image, and more beautiful than "the sun reflecting through the water drops after summer rain"?

    The OP worries that the paragraph is sloppy. Maybe that lack of confidence comes from not knowing exactly why those two images were chosen for comparison and contrast.
     
    cutecat22 likes this.
  14. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,661
    Likes Received:
    5,153
    I think I'm with ChickenFreak - this selection tells me a lot more about the narrator than it does about Sarah Johnsson. I'm getting the impression of a super-enthusiastic, super-smitten teenager resorting to purple prose in an attempt to convey his love/lust/fascination with Sarah. If that's deliberate, great. If it's not deliberate, I'd suggest dialing back a good bit.
     
  15. Dunning Kruger
    Offline

    Dunning Kruger Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2014
    Messages:
    205
    Likes Received:
    128
    Sounds like you are describing infatuation/first love rather than beauty. The imagery you pick works well particularly the water drops and the last beam of light at a sunset. I think referring to art 3 times was a little overkill. But that's why this seems more like infatuation. Infatuation is prone to weird comparisons and overstatement because it's somewhat superficial but yet powerful emotion. So, if the character is infatuated, I think this works. As others have said, you can tighten it up a bit, but the general description is good.
     
  16. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,978
    Likes Received:
    5,500
    Please don't put words in my mouth, 123. The mere admiration of beauty is not the part that worries me.
     
  17. Sundowner
    Offline

    Sundowner Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2015
    Messages:
    79
    Likes Received:
    57
    Location:
    World Marshal Inc.
    Personally, I always thought that truly undefinable things were just that - undefinable. To define them is to simply imply you're looking for value where none exists, in other words, trying too hard. When I describe something ineffable, I just say it's that. Maybe I'll add some more flavor, like, "the sensation was that of a man dying in a desert drinking from a canteen, to say he needed the water was an understatement. In this moment this sensation was simply ineffable." But, to go on and on though a whole paragraph to describe the indescribable, it just feels like the writer is trying to tell me how I'm supposed to feel about something rather than letting the reader decide. It's a tad droning.
     
  18. Nicoel
    Offline

    Nicoel Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2015
    Messages:
    461
    Likes Received:
    330
    As others have said, it feels quite a bit overstated. You have beautiful imagery, but you use it so much - I don't know where you're going with this. I also second the notion that this sounds more like infatuation than love. As well as, I have this big picture of how she's beautiful but I have no idea what she looks like. Is she thin? Chubby? Does she have eyes whose rich, clear color rival even the most beloved blue sapphire? (I used that example as this kind of imagery seems to be what you're aiming for) As a reader, I would get frustrated being told how beautiful she is, rather than shown.
     
  19. 123456789
    Offline

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    6,347
    Likes Received:
    3,092
    Sorry. So I take it you're bothered by the narrators inability to recognize that his admiration is subjective? Yes that bothered me too.
     
  20. Fullmetal Xeno
    Offline

    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2011
    Messages:
    1,364
    Likes Received:
    141
    Location:
    Kingdom of Austniad
    Cut it short and replace the word painstakingly to meticulously. The word painstakingly kills the mood for me. Otherwise, not too bad! Keep it up!
     
  21. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,978
    Likes Received:
    5,500
    Yep.

    I'd also like to see more awareness that the woman that he's admiring is a woman, not a sculpture, but that worries me less. It's possible to admire human beauty without admiring the person.
     
    123456789 likes this.
  22. Boger
    Offline

    Boger Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2014
    Messages:
    445
    Likes Received:
    121
    Location:
    The Dome of the Slate
    So there is no booty in beauty
     
    Swiveltaffy and Fullmetal Xeno like this.
  23. cutecat22
    Offline

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2014
    Messages:
    2,434
    Likes Received:
    1,063
    Location:
    England
    I think we need @ZedZatta to clarify fay a few things. Firstly, is the paragraph trying to show the describing character's infatuation with Sarah Johnsson?

    And as this is one short passage from a story, is there more of a physical description description of Sarah somewhere else?

    If it is to show infatuation then I thin the author nailed it, they know the character better than anyone else and only they can decided how one character would think about another character. Ant this is one small paragraph. We don't know what happened before or what's going to happen after so the point about not knowing what Sarah actually looks like, is moot.
     
  24. ZedZatta
    Offline

    ZedZatta Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2014
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    7
    First of all, I have to say that you guys are all great. This is better feedback that I would have ever hoped for, but I feel like I kinda opened a can of worms by not describing the context.

    It's about a man in his early thirties that is perceiving his teenage years as the highpoint of his life. When Sarah Johnson started making regular appearances in his life he could not help himself to be reminded of an high school crush. Even if Sarah Johnson is simply the regular kind of beautiful, according to this man, she is simply the most beautiful thing is this world. She kinda becomes the pinnacle of this man's lost youth.

    So basically, he tries his best to put into words how beautiful he is perceiving her, like he is describing the most beautiful woman in the world to a man that have never seen a woman. If this character could talk directly to the reader, he would try to convince you that beyond doubt this was the most beautiful woman in existence and would try his best to make his point clear by using visual imagery. It is like he is even trying to convince himself of the fact.
     
    cutecat22 likes this.
  25. cutecat22
    Offline

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2014
    Messages:
    2,434
    Likes Received:
    1,063
    Location:
    England
    Personally, I think you nailed it. (Small bit of rejigging and maybe change a few of the words but I got it, it really pulled me in and took me along for the ride).

    But as we've all proved, not everyone likes the same things, it would be a sad world if we did!
     

Share This Page