1. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Style Have you shown it well?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Wreybies, Oct 18, 2013.

    For reasons of nerdliness I was on the hunt for old renaissance style pictures this morning and came across this bizarre representation of an elephant. I was disturbed and amused at the same time. And then I thought, "You write sci-fi, Wrey, have you never described something in a way that didn't come across well to the reader, that didn't really represent what you meant?"

    [​IMG]

    You know it's an elephant because you are familiar with the real thing and the errors are blindingly apparent. The trunk coming out from the mouth in a Geiger-esque manner is utterly wrong. There are nostrils where one expects nostrils in other mammals. The ears are more piscine than mammalian. The tusks are porcine. The eyes are drawn with a human iris and are in the wrong place.

    But the question is, did the artist draw what the artist was told by the explorer recently returned from the wilds of Africa? In the case of my question, the artist is the reader and the recently returned explorer is you, the writer. We can argue back and forth about over-exposition or under-describing, but regardless of which camp you hold to your bosom, is your description effective in conveying to the reader what you had in your mind's eye? Do you read back over your work, close your eyes and try to imagine what your reader will picture from your words?

    Discuss. :)
     
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  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    this is why one of my standard pieces of advice to new and newish writers is to read over their work as if it was written by the person they most dislike...
     
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  3. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Ha ha! That's funny. :D Probably fiendishly effective as well. I'll try it. Hmm...
     
  4. Fatback
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    Fatback Banned

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    The best descriptions seem effortless.... Unorthodox... I prefer oddball comparisons... You know we aren't obligated to get overly wordy...
     
  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I don't know which I like better - Wrey's posing of the question or Maia's response.

    This is why after I finish a first draft, I take an extended break from the project, usually four to six weeks (for a novel). That way, I can approach it with a fresh outlook. Not only does it help me keep a certain sense of detachment (although perhaps not enough for me to pretend that it was written by the person I most dislike), but it helps prevent skipping ahead because I know what happens next.
     
  6. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, I can certainly relate to that. For a long time I found it difficult to read my whole novel through from start to finish without skipping around, depending on my mood. Sometimes I liked reading the dialogue bits, sometimes I preferred the narrative bits. Sometimes I preferred one POV over another. It took quite a few months (well years, actually) to be able to read through the entire thing as if I were reading somebody else's book. It was an instructive exercise and resulted in an improved MS. I couldn't edit for story flow when I was hopping all over the place.
     
  7. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Wreybies Loved that pic - what book is it from, if you don't mind sharing? :)
     
  8. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    The closest I find in quick search is that it is from a Dutch engraving artist of the day named Gesner.

    EDIT ~ Found it, @Burlbird! :) Historia Animalium by Conrad Gesner (1516-65) published in July 1815
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2013
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  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    looks more like gesner's 'hysteria' to me! :rolleyes:
     

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