1. Trakaias
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    Trakaias Member

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    Description

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Trakaias, May 29, 2009.

    One of my issues is description. If I use too much people get lost in the heavy description rather than the story. If I use too little I haven't painted the image of the person I am trying to describe. So instead of doing it all at once, I list the most important characteristics about them, and then I describe them more as I go on throughout the story.

    But now my issue is how to describe hairstyle and facial features? How do I describe a hairdo that isn't normally seen, how do I put into words what jewelery if any that she has in her hair. And most importantly, how do I describe these things without taking up too much space?

    Another problem I've had figuring out is clothing. I have a pretty strong image of the kind of clothes they wear, but have no idea where to begin to describe them/how.

    I've been lurking around this place without ever really signing up for half a year now, and I finally decided to sign up and post. This question has been bugging me. Any suggestions?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Before you ask how to describe something, you should ask whether you should describe it.

    All your narrative is from a point of view (POV). Often te point of view corresponds to someone in the story. All description should take into account wnat that character would notice and comment on at that time.

    If your character is a guy who has known his girl companion for years, he won;t normally be taking note of her height or weight. He would;t pay notice to her hair color unless it has changed from the last few times he saw her, and probably wouldn; notice what she is wearing unless it made his eyes pop. Odds are fairly good he wouldn't know her eye color unless she gave him a ahard time once for not knowing it.

    Stick to what would catch his eye on that occasion.

    In any case, you don't need to paint a detailed picture of every scene. Leave something to the reader's imagination. Give general impressions, not brick by brick photorealism. Paint the broad strokes, and let the reader fill in the rest.
     
  3. Trakaias
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    Trakaias Member

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    Thanks :) I usually write in 3rd person omniscient depending on what I'm writing. Well here's the thing, I write fantasy stories that take place in completely different worlds/realms. I have a clear view of what I'm seeing, and I understand some stuff is up to the imaginations of others. And I play around with that sometimes. But there are some things I need to describe. For example my wife is blind, and I'd like to describe the world as I see it to her. I do this through writing.

    In my world they have different customs, different drinks, every single thing is different straight down to types of combs. I don't generally describe those things so descriptively in that area. And I've learned how to spread out the description of my character for important details.

    I would like to know how to put into words types of clothing, types of hairstyles. I don't know how to describe it. For those scenes where I want people to get a clip of what my character(s) look like. And so I guess my main issue is not when so much as to how. I could eventually figure the rest of it out later I suppose.

    It's really important to me though, so when it comes to describing something how do I put hairstyles and specific clothing that are important to the event into words?

    I know this probably would make me a horrible writer to most, but a lot of the stories I write I'm just catering to myself. And they're good exercises for the real things I intend for other people to read. But when I take someone else into my world, I want to explain somehow things that are there that they wouldn't know otherwise that to my is really important to the culture.

    My stump right now is on hairstyles/clothings. Any ideas how to do that?
     
  4. Trakaias
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    Trakaias Member

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    Geesh, I edited that post and it came out double. Well anyway the second I took out a comma. I'm afraid to edit it again to remove the above just in case it makes a 3rd post. So now ya all know. I removed a comma >.>
     
  5. daturaonfire
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    daturaonfire Senior Member

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    "Before you ask how to describe something, you should ask whether you should describe it." --Cogito

    Oh this is a good thought; it hadn't occured to me.

    Trakaias, one way to weave in description of clothing and hair is through action. If your girl MC has an ornament in her hair, maybe she can fiddle with it while she's talking. Her dress train can get caught on someone's heel. That sort of thing.

    Also, choose the strongest adjectives available to you. If your character's hair is blone, what shade? Honey, ash, strawberry?

    I don't know if you have a stomach for reading about concubines and their work, but Jaqueline Carey's 'Kushiel's Dart' is heavy on ornate description. If you're serious about learning, you may want to take a look at those books. Hope this helps. = )
     
  6. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I recommend reading Dune and studying it.

    I was able to imagine everything in that novel in such great details, yet he hardly spends any time describing anything. One little sentences does a lot of work if it is written well.

    By the half-light of a suspensor lamp, dimmed and hanging near the floor,
    the awakened boy could see a bulky female shape at his door, standing one step
    ahead of his mother. The old woman was a witch shadow -- hair like matted
    spiderwebs, hooded 'round darkness of features, eyes like glittering jewels.

    That is all the words he spends to descibe the futuristic setting of his bedroom. And I love how effective, hair like matted spiderwebs, is.
     

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