1. thabear637
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    thabear637 Member

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    Getting stuck on description

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by thabear637, Apr 9, 2009.

    Hey guys, I have 2 questions really.

    I have read so many times, that the most common (or atleast one common) mistake when writing their first novel that they try and make everything perfect. They go back and edit and revise the first chapter and never get anywhere. Instead what I've read that is recommended is to just write, and revise after you finished it. This seems to be solid advice, and it really motivated me to just push through.

    However, I got stuck when trying to describe a certain part of my story. So my first question is when trying to power through the novel and you come to a dead hault in describing something, how do you push through it? I don't think it's writer's block..as I know where i'm going with it, but instead I fail to figure out how to describe something. How do you tend to push through that?


    My next question is more specific to my writing. I'm writing a fantasy novel in which takes place in a somewhat medieval time, and there is a residential district, and he ventures in the the very lower class area. They are basically houses poorly constructed with whatever scraps were left after building everything else. So some parts were scrap metal, some wood, and even cloth doors. The part I got stuck on was

    "The houses looked less like houses, and more like "

    So I'm trying to figure out what to fit in...I know you probably don't have the same picture in your head as mine..and if you can't help me thats fine, i'm mainly stuck on question number 1...but figured I might get some good suggestions while I was at it.
     
  2. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    Describing a certain part... Is this certain part an object, a person, or an event? If it's either of the first two, I'd probably just skip over the detailed descriptions. If it's important, I'd briefly describe what makes it important and move on, letting the reader fill in the rest. If it's an event, you might actually show it rather than describe it. If it happened in the past, perhaps a flashback is in order. I'm afraid that's the best I can do for that.

    As for the houses and filling in the quote, I'd probably say something like...

    "The houses looked less like houses, and more like miniature scrapyards shaped into boxes."

    I like to make exaggerations rather than valid comparisons. :p
     
  3. thabear637
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    thabear637 Member

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    thanks for the input and I actually like your description of what I was trying to fill. I was trying to go for an exaggeration of some sort. I might be able to use part of it :)
     
  4. LordKyleOfEarth
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    LordKyleOfEarth Contributing Member Contributor

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    Less like houses, more like Hovels?

    More like debris left by a flood

    More like my little brother's bedroom?
     
  5. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    I find if I get stuck on a description, I'll just delete that part and continue with the rest of the novel. That way when I go back I can figure out what needs to go there without having to force it.
     
  6. Unsavory
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    Unsavory Active Member

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    I will actually put notes right there in the story with funny punctuation on the ends (asterick, ampersand, whatever) quickly telling myself what I need to do so that I'll come across it on my next edit.

    I find that it's really bad to let myself just get stuck when there are other things I still want to say. I make a note and move on.
     
  7. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Thabear, what description on you stuck on? What are you trying to describe?
     
  8. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    I also add in notes wherever I get stuck, except I use something like "Come back later" in bold type. That's a lot harder to miss than a little symbol, and much easier to find if I'm just glancing through the text.

    Just something to consider. :)
     
  9. thabear637
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    thabear637 Member

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    I was stuck on describing the setting.

    What was worse was I was stuck on one sentence and it just threw me off base and I was lost.

    I know (and knew at the time) I could easily skip that part and continue the story, but my mind kept coming back to that sentence for some reason and i just couldn't keep the focus of moving on until I figured out how I wanted to word that. I guess the option of just deleting it and moving on might have helped that as well.


    Thanks for all the advice, I had thought of doing one of those ***come back later*** things, but wasn't sure that would be a good idea or not.
     
  10. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I was hoping you were going to tell me what you were trying to describe, and then I was going to say, there you go. Just leave it as that and come back to it later.

    That is just describe it in basic. Shapes, colors, smells, and then move on. Fix it later.
     
  11. Speedy
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    Speedy Contributing Member Contributor

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    I use all my senses when trying to describe a setting....but thats after i know whats its going to be.
     
  12. thabear637
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    thabear637 Member

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    doh!

    Well what I got stuck on was basically my question number 2...and actually come to think of it. I did feel kind of silly writing the question when I described the setting...houses made of whatever scraps were left..cloth doors..etc...
     
  13. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Ah, I thought that was a different question. Then, yeah, you can just keep it basic like that. Maybe highlight the words in red so you remember you want to work on that area.

    The poorly constructed houses were made of scaps, wood, metal, and whatever they could get their hands on. Some doors were cloth.
     
  14. Castlesofsand
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    Castlesofsand Banned

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    if you can't describe the settting your story begins with, then its the wrong setting you are trying to describe. somethings fighting with your mind, maybe listen to it.
     
  15. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    ". . . and more like a motley, reasonable facsimile, cobbled together by an ingenious child who just found a lot of junk during a time when he has nothing else to do. Points for creativity."

    Heh heh. Thank you. Writing that little sentence really spurred my own imagination.
     
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  16. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ever looked at photos of slums? They use everthing to make/repair a shelter, and I mean EVERYTHING. Perhaps you'd get some inspiration there.
     
  17. lynneandlynn
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    I loved this point! That's the problem I've been having with my novel... >< I mean, the guy just *doesn't* want to be in a barn. He just doesn't. Guess I gotta figure out where he *does* want to be :p


    And I'd agree with what someone else said--if you can't figure out how to word something, leave it the way you wrote it originally and highlight it and then come back to it when you have more time to work on it. (and I'd fix all these extra spaces in my sentence but I need sleep..!)

    ~Lynn
     
  18. Castlesofsand
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    Castlesofsand Banned

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    never never never if you can, describe something using the same object a comparison to another something. why direct the eyes away from what you are showing to another object?

    ..gone were the fancy houses of the well-to-do, instead an ocean of discarded plywood, fashioned into flat-topped boxes, stood before me. Fighting for each grain of dirt they crowded my next breath....

    the houses were set as an anchor of what they aren't now. but the description is centered soully on the scene before you, keeping the reader there too.

    just my thoughts

    or something, if you are going to use a comparison, don't do the 'like/as if'

    if they look less like houses, then don't describe them as houses, they don't look like them, so there is no point.

    start off with what they look like.
     
  19. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    Castles: That sentence is not describing the houses as houses. It would be describing them as resembling something other than a house, which is what you're suggesting he do. But by saying "The houses looked less like houses...", it's saying that they don't completely leave the typical image of a house behind.

    I like your description, but judging from the way he said he was looking for an exaggeration like the one I gave, I would guess that his writing style is a bit more casual. It might be a little wordy or stuffy in comparison with the surrounding text. Then again, maybe I'm completely wrong and what you said would fit in.
     
  20. Henry The Purple
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    Henry The Purple Active Member

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    "The houses looked less like houses, and more like "

    Scarp this sentence altogether, it sounds clunky tbh. Or rephrase it. Maybe, as someone already suggested, look at pictures of some ravaged houses in poverty? Its a simple google away.

    Maybe draw the readers attention to a single detail, and start of with that. A broken window maybe. Build your description up with single images, and then present a more collective image of poverty near the end of the decription. Hope that helps.
     
  21. Castlesofsand
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    Castlesofsand Banned

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    when you say, '

    looks less like houses, you are comparing them still to houses.

    if it doesnt look like a dog, well first thing you do is picture a dog then you look for what the differences are.

    so i'll just disagree.

    looks less like houses seems to guide you first back to the houses, but why, you have to ask yourself, why send the reader back to something that doesn't look like what it is?

    could be just me
     
  22. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    Because they still do look like houses. :rolleyes: They're just so ramshackle/dirty/whatever that it doesn't seem like anyone would actually be able to live in them. That's what I'm getting out of it, anyway.
     
  23. Castlesofsand
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    Castlesofsand Banned

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    okay if that's the point, then i agree with Henry, if they still look like houses, why mention the difference at all
     
  24. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    I see it only makes sense in my own mind. I'll keep my observations to myself.
     
  25. Castlesofsand
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    Castlesofsand Banned

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    lol FMK, i'm not saying you are wrong, nor doubting your words, your opinions are as mine, your own. i understand what you are saying, but to me, if you compare them to one, you first have to have that initial house to visualise before you can carry on to the changes the others have.

    thats all i'm saying. :) no worries
     

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