1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Description+Imagery Test. Painting with words.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Link the Writer, Apr 11, 2016.

    Hey there, hope this is the right place because I'm not necessarily looking for critique. Rather I'm wondering if the following scene matches up to the image posted below. The reason is that I wanted to test how well my description and ability to set a scene in your mind with words, and the picture is so you can compare the two and say how close I got to putting that image in your head.

    Ready? OK, here's the scene in question:

    My stomach heaved as I clung desperately to the railing of the old tugboat. The night fog obscured my vision as the violent, crashing waves beat against the iron hull threatening to send us all overboard. The salt stung my eyes, entered my nostrils and mouth. My vault suit was drenched; I cursed my lack of foresight to bring any spare clothing. Either I would have to go naked, steal some clothes, or hope a kindly vendor would be willing to accept what paltry amount of bottle caps I had shoved in my bag somewhere.

    Though knowing from experience, theft would most likely be my only option.

    After all, who was going to stop me?

    A whimper snapped me from my internal grumbling. Dogmeat, my faithful companion, a German Shepherd I found wandering at Red Rocket near my home months ago, was huddled against my leg, his tail and ears lowered in the classic dog code for ‘I'm scared shitless’. His matted fur made him look even more pathetic -- couldn't say I blame him. I forced a smile and scratched him between the ears. “Don't worry, buddy,” I said, fighting the vomit that swelled in my stomach. Really didn't want to add insult to my poor mutt's misery by expelling what was left of my breakfast onto him. “It's all right, we've faced worst.”

    He titled his head inquisitively. Whether he believed me or not, I had no idea. We had gone through a lot -- facing down the bastard who killed my wife and took my son, joining up with and fighting alongside the Brotherhood of Steel, securing peace for the Commonwealth. Oh, and helping Cait with her drug-related problems. She had wanted to come with me to Far Harbor -- this creepy place near what was once the U.S. state of Maine to fight Synths and other things that, quote, “need to get their bloomin' arses kicked.” Truth be told, I doubt she cared much about why I was going to such a faraway place, she just wanted to be with me shooting everything that stood between us and our objective.

    She wanted to come, I wanted her to come, but as the old anti-drug programs from before the Great War always taught me, the most difficult part of giving up addiction is the withdrawal. After nearly half a lifetime of chems, Cait had gotten to where she was coughing blood. The toxin machine in Vault 95 took away most of the buildup, but addiction doesn't just go away that easily. A violent fever took hold, reducing her to a shivering mess in our home in Sanctuary Hills. Even though she told me to go, that she'd be fine with Piper looking after her, I could see the irritation in her eyes. She wouldn't be coming. And when I return?

    Cait would never let me live this down...


    Through the gloom came the faint outlines of buildings lit with the eerie glow of campfires and what looked like gas lamps. I squinted. A collection of buildings was directly ahead, perched on rickety boardwalks. It looked like a marketplace, or a warehouse. Something human moved to the left of my peripheral vision, near a stove. This eerie place wasn't wholly abandoned. Despite my nausea, I chuckled; I couldn't help but think on how fitting this would be for a pre-War horror movie: the hapless hero ventures by boat to a mysterious remote town in the middle of a storm, in a foggy night. Guess some things just never change, even two-hundred years after a nuclear war.

    “Lemme see,” I muttered, “Zombies -- who are called Ghouls by the locals, mysterious cults that worship radiation, mutated monsters, and a town of synthetic humans. And a lone human who vanished here.” I looked back down at Dogmeat and patted his soaked head. “Welcome to your first ever horror film, bud.”

    A sharp female voice from the docks broke the silence. “Who's there? Why have you come here?”

    Now here's the image I was trying to capture via words.

    [​IMG]
    How did I do? Did the image displayed here closely match what I was writing? Were you able to come up with a different image?

    Again, hope this is the right thread. I'm not trying to find critique for the scene, just wanting to test how well I can describe scenery.
     
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  2. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I think it matches pretty well. I don't think I would've pictured something as dark as this because the tone is rather lighthearted but it does a good job.
     
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  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it's a good match, yes. I did keep forgetting, in the image in my head, that it was night, but it's not as if you didn't tell us more than once.

    Re-reading, I think that the disconnect was in the description of the dog--matted fur, tilting his head, tail and ears lowered, and so on. The clarity of that description suggests plenty of light. So we have "night fog", then lots of clear visual details of the dog, then "through the gloom". The clear visual details are overriding the two signals of night and darkness.
     
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  4. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Ah, so there's a conflict between night and darkness? In my mind, I thought the dog would be more visible because it's right next to the MC, whereas the walkway is over in the horizon.

    Maybe if I had added in the beginning that the moon was full and, despite the fog, things were surprisingly visible? I think I might be confused on the difference between night and darkness in the way you're describing it.

    @peachalulu - Interesting. Yeah, it's possible I wasn't thinking of the tone when I saw that image. It's supposed to invoke fear, but I make it sound like the MC was annoying, but still somewhat curious, correct?

    EDIT: Just realized that there are bits in the scene that conflict with what someone in the MC's situation would be thinking (ie, the internal monologue about Cait, and musing about how much this looks like an old horror film.) If you're clinging to the rail of a boat tossing and turning in a raging ocean and fighting the urge to puke, you're not going to be going off on internal monologues.

    That's what I keep forgetting: it's not just writing about what's happening in the scene, it's being the person/people within the scene. Project yourself into that situation and imagine how you'd feel.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2016
  5. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    Now I want to read the story. BTW maybe the stern light of the boat could illuminate Dogmeat or even a lighthouse beam flashing by, sort of looks like one in the picture already. I know no critique wanted, but nice work for an Orca.
     
  6. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Matched pretty close for me. I just saw a smaller boat, though that could be my own issue.

    One word of caution: I know you said you weren't looking for a critique, but I'd lose the name "Red Rocket." It evokes a certain *ahem* phallic image...
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2016
  7. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, I think your scene described it pretty well. But the closeness to the pier was missing, and the dog cowered against his feet instead of having the paws against the railing. Also the description of 'go naked' lost me a little.. I don't think I got what he would have to do?

    But now... as a sailor let me give the painter of the image a piece of my mind ;)

    If I was this guy on board I would be scared out of my wits with the pier so close! The waves crash against, which means the wind comes from behind and there is NO WAY when the boat is so close that it will magically turn around before it hits the dock. Crash boom bang!

    As for the man and the dog.. no way would the dog have his paws on the railing, he would cower in the deckhouse. And I would be standing behind the steering wheel, trying what I could to turn the boat sideways..
     
  8. NiallRoach
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    NiallRoach Contributing Member

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    Fairly close, though I expected something rather more fallouty
     
  9. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Excellent point. I think my idea was that since he had little clothes to wear, he would have to contemplate stripping off for a while, but then it occurred to me that he would have more options available, and besides, it's not like he can't just wait for his clothes to dry, no? :p

    That's why I had Dogmeat cowering beside him because it didn't make sense for him to be perched on the rails in the middle of a howling storm. You are indeed correct, though. If this were realistic, the guy would be fighting for control at the wheel while the dog cowered and wined in the corner of the deckhouse.

    Come to think of it, I should've made mention of that, maybe have someone in the deckhouse fighting for control/barking orders out at other crewmen or the guy himself.

    Wow. A lot to consider when writing a scene.

    EDIT: OK, just so that we're all on the same page here, this was just being used as an exercise by me to see if I could vividly describe something without dialogue. The story of Far Harbor belongs to Bethesda, and it's a DLC for Fallout 4. I'm not affiliated with them, nor do I want to plagiarize them or anything. It was just being used as a writing exercise for me. This is not my story, I'm not trying to rip them off.

    I'm not sure if you all caught this, but people on another writing forum did. Apparently I neglected to mention the storm quieting down because at the end, the MC heard a voice breaking through the silence whereas before, everything was loud and chaotic. This confused them because the storm just went away without warning.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2016
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  10. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well you did a great job. :D And what a fun exercise! I may have to try something like that in the future.
     
  11. Indarican
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    Indarican Member

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    AHHHHHH Fallout!!!!!

    I'm sorry I completely got a different but thats only because I'm a die hard Fallout fan.
     
  12. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This line:

    Somehow, I got confused by "it" because I was thinking, but you're looking at a collection of buildings - that makes many buildings. Weird to refer to many buildings as a single 'it', especially when you describe it as a warehouse, which is very much a single big building.

    Anyway it matched pretty well. And by the end I very much got the feeling that this is a creepy horror you're writing and I had a sense of foreboding that made me no longer wanna read (because I scare easy and don't read horror). So, good job! (eg. that you successfully scared me enough that I definitely don't wanna read it lol)
     
  13. Justin Phillips
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    Justin Phillips Active Member

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    oh my god, as soon as I read dogmeat, I had to scroll down and see if you were describing Fallout, so maybe I ruined the test. But anyway, I think you described it perfectly, and kudos for doing a test on something cool like that
     
  14. Indarican
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    Indarican Member

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    You know!!!!!
    I saw bottlecaps and I got so excited...lol
     
  15. Mocheo Timo
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    Mocheo Timo Active Member

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    It matches pretty well. I read it only once, but I can tell the match because the first thing I noticed as I opened the picture was that the MC looked younger and not as cool as it did in my mind. I think the boat, the dark and blurry scenario, as well as the town all looked pretty much as I had envisioned.

    The story was becoming interesting though, kind of mean on your part to give us only a section...
     
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  16. Indarican
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    Indarican Member

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    @Link the Writer this is a pretty awesome exercise!
     

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