1. Leviathanos
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    Leviathanos Member

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    Describing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Leviathanos, Mar 9, 2011.

    First of all I just want to say woah, I had no idea I was a member here.

    So, I have this..fuel. Inside of me, called inspiration. I decided to use it to write, write and write. Now as I begun writing I discovered my weakness. Describing. I am horrible at describing people, places and such. So I was wondering, what techniques do you use when you describe to not make the reader tired. I've always been told that describing in a good way, will make the reader get interested. When I describe, I give them a headache.
     
  2. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    A writing teacher of mine once gave me an assignment I felt helped me a lot in that manner. Describe your room from the point of view of someone who has never seen it before, and try to convey what kind of person you are through the descriptions only. Even though the piece itself was boring, as there was no plot to go with it, I felt like I learned a lot from that simple exercise. Show it to a friend or your parents when you're done, see what they think.

    Describing is more about showing who your characters are and making the reader feel something about the location they are in, than telling them what it looks like.
     
  3. Soul
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    Soul Member

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    Make it simple and with emotion.Example:Walking by old house of my highschool sweetheart always makes butterflyes in my stomach :p :)

    Or with people:Sometimes Marta's eyes shift,and she becomes distant and coldhearted.

    You can even do it Lovecraft style,just mash up lots and lots of adjectives

    Hope this was of any help good luck :)
     
  4. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    1) Keep it simple your readers know wheels are round, only point out if they are square or triangular in shape. Think of it as what does the reader not know.

    2) Remember there are five senses, smell, touch, taste, sight and hearing use all of them when you can.

    3) With character's pick up on a mannerism they do, or when describing them find something unusual like they have a cute behind, a zit on their nose etc

    4) Find the quirks when you can. Like in my world the sand is sparkling white made of mother of pearl and diamonds.
     
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  5. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Include those things which have significance to the story or characters.

    Describe things subjectively from the point of view of a character. Describe how they make your character feel, what they remind him of, what he thinks of them, and so on.
     
  6. joelpatterson
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    joelpatterson Member

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    Like others are saying, describing is alot like storytelling... you can safely leave out everything that will be understood, so focus on the telling detail that holds some significance, that invites your reader to ask questions...
     
  7. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    On a related note - I have difficulty describing "average" people. I find it easy to describe somebody who is beautiful or ugly, but I find it difficult to write a description of a man or woman who is neither.
     
  8. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Even an average person has a standout feature maybe a long nose, thick glossy hair, maybe they wear a certain type of clothing, have a cross they constantly touch etc.

    All we ever know about Jane Eyre really is she is small and plain. Her diminutive stature is her standout feature.

    They can also have mannerisms that help bring them alive maybe they fiddle with the cuff of their shirt, chew their nails, do they have a word they say or phrase they use ?

    Body language do they stand a certain way when speaking.

    Think Harry Potter - average looking kid with glasses and a scar.

    This is why I find scrapbooks of images showing what locations look like and what my characters wear help. Also casting the main characters in a story with actors that look a bit like them - it helps give me an idea of what to pick out to make them feel real in terms of body language, voice and appearence.

    Having said that I have been known to fail miserably in my intentions - my MC of my first book general feedback is he is 'hot' lol I see him as a big clumsy lad, bit ugly. It is becoming clear I didn't communicate that.
     
  9. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    "Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were."
     
  10. katica
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    katica Senior Member

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    I agree with all of the above.

    They have a unique personality, don't they?

    Descriptions are about setting a MOOD as much as describing an appearance.

    For instance, let's say your character is average looking: curly brown hair and brown eyes. Let me describe the same person, but use three different personalities to do so.

    Serious:

    "She had piercing brown eyes and small pink lips that were always set in a tight line."

    Shy:

    "She had curly brown hair that she hid behind when she talked to people."

    Flirtatious:

    "Her clothing was so tight, you'd think she was uncomfortable, if she didn't have a smile on her face and a wink in her brown eyes."

    Adding their personality and overall aura and body language to the description helps to make it unique and more real. We don't look at people and just see brown eyes and brown hair. We also take note of certain other things (like how they dress or move) and use it to make a judgement of their personality.

    It goes the same way for describing anything else. If you are describing scenery, for instance, take the mood of the chapter and add it to the description. I'll describe a graveyard with lots of grass in three ways.

    Sad/Hopeless:

    "The sound of doves echoed through the graves. Tears welled up in my eyes as I gazed at the endless rows of tombstones. The grass blurred into a green blob as I cried."

    Scary:

    "Gravestones surrounded me. I could feel the eyes of the dead staring at me. The green grass didn't feel thick enough to separate me from them."

    Happy:

    "The flowers surrounding each tomb were bright and blooming. My friend was gone, buried several feet under the grass, but I knew that she had finally found peace."

    It sets the mood as well as describes the setting and makes the description less boring.

    Also, use as few words as possible when describing, but don't leave any details out.
     
  11. Georgew
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    Georgew Member

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    Description to me is like painting clouds.

    There are so many ways to capture the beauty. You have to find your own way.

    But to find it you have to try a couple of ways out, so I'd say try this exercise:

    Take some descriptive pieces of writing from famous authors or even your own personal favorites. Some obvious examples are Steinbeck and Shakespeare, try and emulate (not copy) the methods of description they use. Then see where you would make changes and customize it. Then get someones opinion!
     

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