1. lonelygirl1984
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    lonelygirl1984 New Member

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    Fairly New To Writing Looking For Help

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by lonelygirl1984, Apr 25, 2013.

    Reccently started writing and dialogue seems to be my strong suit but description (Mine just seems boring) and writing the actions of characters and especially body language are my weaknesses is there any way to improve this? I have tried writing what I see in my head but it just seems boring lacks idk spunk I guess idk and the body language I just cant figure out how to write what I see the characters doing in my head right.
     
  2. ArcticPhoenix
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    ArcticPhoenix Member

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    It's a little difficult to comment on these without seeing why your description is boring to you and why body language is your weakness, but allow me to try to help regardless.

    For body language, I recommend checking out this body language cheat sheet. I find it extremely useful and easy to learn. If you liked that one, here's a more advanced read.

    On another note, which is not about description nor body language: Sometimes with writing, besides simply putting into words what you see in your head, I find it helpful to reread and see how you would say out loud the sentences that you have jotted down. The post you wrote lacks comma marks... actually I can't find one at all... and much like how you would get short-breathed if you tried saying it out loud, I got a little short of breath when I was reading the post as well.

    If this is only how you write when you're "talking" to someone, and not how you write your pieces, though, I suppose it's okay.

    Good luck with your writing! Always have fun and keep learning. =)
     
  3. ArcticPhoenix
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    ArcticPhoenix Member

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    EDIT: I'm sorry, an error caused me to double post somehow.
     
  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    ArcticPhoenix: The double-post thing happens sometimes. Just edit all the text out of the second one and substitute "Sorry - double post" or something to that effect. That's all the rest of us do.

    Lonelygirl: The best way to improve is to read stories by good writers and see how they do it. You're a little ahead of the game in that you've identified a weakness in your writing. That means you'll know what to read for when you study the work of professionals. Who's your favorite writer? What's your favorite novel? Find a passage in it that you think handles description and body language well, and see how the writer did it. Do not be surprised, by the way, if you can't easily find such a passage. This is a secret many beginners don't know: You don't really have to describe your characters much at all. Many writers don't, other than a passing mention of hair color or height or something. The reader's imagination fills in the rest without the reader even being consciously aware of it. You may think "I really love the way such-and-such an author described her character's body language in chapter two of her novel." Then you go and look at the novel, and you find the author barely described it at all - your own imagination did it all and you didn't realize it.

    Without seeing a sample of your work, that's the best advice I can give you. See how the good writers do it. Read the rules for this site, and when you fulfill the requirements, you'll be able to post your work here for the rest of us to critique. We'll be able to give you more specific advice then.

    Good luck!
     
  5. cazann34
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    cazann34 Active Member

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    Do what I do. While watching TV describe what is happening. Turn the sound down, its a distraction, pick something that's very active, action movies are good. Describe what is happening, how the characters move, their facial expression etc. It helps me and I'm sure it'll help you.
    I also suggest you people-watch. Do it in shopping lines/queues, on the bus, in the cafe, at the park etc. See how people move and react to one another and describe them in you head.

    I hope that helps.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    READ!

    if you're not constantly reading the best [does not = the most popular] writers' works, you can't hope to become a good writer... by reading good writing you can learn how it's done...
     
  7. Mithrandir
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    Mithrandir Contributing Member

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    I'm really glad I got the Writer's Art (your suggestion). So, what top five books (not how-to) do you think are most instructive?
     
  8. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Take a note book with you at all times - watch people - strangers, your friends, go to the mall, sit in a park or coffee shop
    Jot things down.
    Watch their body language - cause the good thing about watching total strangers is you're not really sure what's going on, or
    what their relationships are, are they mad, sad happy? All you can go on is their facial reactions, their figgity gestures, their eyes.

    Also jotting things on the go is a good way to tone up your descriptions- walk into a shop or a library - jot what you
    see what you feel, examine your impressions of the place. Use the five senses - does the
    coffee shop smell like burnt coffee or warm cinnamon buns, or the lady who really over did it with the perfume.
     
  9. lonelygirl1984
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    lonelygirl1984 New Member

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    Thanks guys for your all your advice

    BTW here is a small example of my writing: Kate stands at the edge of the lake the late afternoon sun hitting the water at an angle making it shimmer and sparkle. The sky is a myriad of soft reds, oranges, and blues. She closes her eyes relishing in the quietness, she can hear crickets and birds chirping somewhere off in the distance.
     
  10. Suffering-is-Beauty
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    Suffering-is-Beauty Member

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    I'll say that it is much better than most can do right out of the starting gate so relax and just go with it. unlike what some have said you do not need to read a million books to be a good writer. it's a good idea, but the two books I would most recommend are the dictionary and a thesaurus. the power of a large vocabulary is very important if you want things to flow well and not have to repeat the same word ten times per paragraph.

    I don't like reading very much which is why I say that, so keep at it and all will be well so long as you enjoy yourself.
     
  11. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    My weakness lies in description as well (I can see it in my head but find it hard to write it down on paper), and thanks to you this has given me a challenge. Thank you, good sir!
     
  12. lonelygirl1984
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    lonelygirl1984 New Member

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    That is my problem too I hate reading mostly because schools always made us read which in turn made me hate it
     
  13. Rafiki
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    Rafiki Active Member

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    I wish I could figure out how to write dialogue, mine is clunky and robotic.

    On description and body language, mine is rather spartan but I find it to be enough. When describing something what you're really doing is providing the skeleton for the reader to hang their own image onto, if that makes any sense. Your job, as a writer, is to facilitate the imagination. Close your eyes, imagine what you're trying to describe, and strip it. Say only what stands out to you, what makes you feel like this image is special- and stray from adjectives, they're the bane of beginning writers, (The quick brown rat deftly jumped over the damp grey decaying log.) Stick to mystique and encourage the reader to fill in the blanks, you don't need to worry about missing anything, they're smarter than you think.
     
  14. ProsonicLive
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    ProsonicLive Senior Member

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    use adjectives that have the same tone as your books genre and back off of the most common used generic ones, not to the point where you are totally ignoring them but some pack more punch than others. kind of like enigma vs mystery or horrifying vs scary. some other words can be used to add more color even though they are not direct replacements like Emotionally desolate would describe a person whose manner was almost never reactive or one that does not get emotionally attached. even though the word desolate is more of a geographic term.
     
  15. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    might sound sad but i practiced by trying to explain in words a photograph, a room i was sat (such as family get together where there are a rich verity of people), looking out the window (i live in a town so plenty of people). Once happy i would then extend the story, give a simple plot with simple movement. Ie the family party i would create a discussion or a faux argument and keep adding to i had the base for a short story. And if you cant be in such a situation always take photos for later or ones from magazines. Don't make it up from scratch as a reference point is critical to make sure you haven't gone off the subject. And if you feel brave, give someone the story and then let them say what they think the scene looks like and give them the photo to see who close they (and you) were.
     
  16. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Dictionary I can agree with, but a thesaurus is something you should run like hell away from. Thesaurus is only good if you've got a word in your head and you can't quite remember it, or sometimes for jogging your memory for what other words are out there. Never use a thesaurus for new words because you may end up misusing it and making a joke of your writing. Dictionary can do the same thing if you're not careful :rolleyes: I should know, I did it once to myself after being inspired to actually "read the dictionary" ;)

    Anyway, re the OP - your small sample of description read all right to me. Your weak point, I'd say, is in fact punctuation. You're missing an *awful* lot of commas, making it read funny. With the right punctuation though, the sample you offered seems all right to me to be honest. Maybe you're just being too hard on yourself?

    Try and describe things you actually want to describe - what interests you? For example, for me, I avoid battle scenes like the plague. Somehow I just find it tedious and extremely boring to write, and the truth is, my feelings are automatically reflected in the writing. It can't be helped, and I end up with a crappy scene. But when it's something I find beautiful or heart-breaking or anything that gives me strong emotions, the scene comes out near-perfect.

    So maybe your problem isn't so much with describing in general, but it is in exactly *what* you're describing.

    Failing that, have you considered writing plays/screenplays instead, where it's heavy on dialogue with minimal descriptions? Perhaps prose isn't for you.
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i'm glad you enjoyed it... kilpatrick's the ultimate modernday masterwordsmith guru, imo...

    sorry i can't give you a list of a 'top five' because there are so many... what genre are you focusing on?
     
  18. Mithrandir
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    Mithrandir Contributing Member

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    I mostly write Sci-Fi and Fantasy, but I enjoy every genre... besides steampunk. I'm reading pretty much everything I can get my hands on, but can't find out which one's are the "best".
     
  19. lonelygirl1984
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    lonelygirl1984 New Member

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    MCKK Me being hard on myself is a strong possibility. I have never had much self confidence in anything i've done, people can tell me its great time and time again, but I will still thinks its crap.
     
  20. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    can't help on the steampunk front, but in sci-fi, these are some who are generally considered the masters of the medium, as well as masterful writers [and my personal favorites:

    poul anderson
    isaac asimov
    ben bova
    ray bradbury
    robert heinlein
    larry niven
    jerry pournelle [often writes w/ niven]
    carl sagan
    kurt vonnegut

    for sci-fi/fantasy:

    douglas adams
    jules verne
    h.g. wells
     

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