1. Corgz
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    Corgz Senior Member

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    How to describe a spaceship?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Corgz, Jan 22, 2012.

    I've been worrying about this part of my story for a while. My story is set in 5000AD, and i am having trouble decribing an inter-galatic spaceship..
    i know the space ship isn't huge, just enough room for a multi purpose room (kitchen, sitting area, computers and stuff) and enough room for sleeping quarters...

    I just cant see to describe the outside.. i am finding it difficult to get a mental inmage in my head...

    Help?
     
  2. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    Any way you damn well like, hon. You can research futuristic technology, watch a lot of sci fi, or simply go 'it looked like a giant robotic meercat on a unicycle' for all I care. The point is that it's science fiction, more to the point it takes place in 3000 years time, so no one can tell you it's wrong ;)
     
  3. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Look around the net for a bunch of old sci-fi magazine covers and book covers. A lot of the artists who painted them did really beautiful, imaginative spaceship work. You'll get a lot of inspiration from those pictures, I'm sure.
     
  4. Mark_Archibald
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    Mark_Archibald Active Member

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    This. Than go to www.thesaurus.com and find the words you need.
     
  5. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    Start doodling and or Googling.
     
  6. Corgz
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    Corgz Senior Member

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    I can come up with describing words fine. But i can not describe the shape of them...
     
  7. Corgz
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    Corgz Senior Member

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    Right. i'm up to there.... now what?

    I want my spaceship to look like this
    stock-photo-futuristic-spaceship-58468360.jpg

    I am really struggling to describe it!
     
  8. TheIllustratedMan
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    TheIllustratedMan Active Member

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    Try an exercise, outside of your narrative, where you just describe the ship. Pick one end, start there, and describe the whole thing through to the other end. It might not be great, and you definitely won't use all of it, but it will give you an idea of how to describe the parts that you need within your narrative. There's a very good chance that it's unnecessary and unwanted to describe the entire thing.
     
  9. AmsterdamAssassin
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    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

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    Writing isn't easy, or everyone would do it. ;)

    Begin with what's most obvious, the damage. Then go on to the identification - does it have marks on the outside to tell Zack where it came from? Is it still hot from the impact or was the hillside accident some time ago? Can he determine the trajectory? Are there doors or hatches, can they be opened?
     
  10. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    For the internal design, look at ocean-going yachts or cruisers. They are compact and full of space age technology.
     
  11. Corgz
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    Corgz Senior Member

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    Thankyou guys, i wil lattempt this now and post what i came up with!
     
  12. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    I think what I usually do is draw one of my own then describe it.
    it is a good exercise and it makes it original to you.
     
  13. Corgz
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    Corgz Senior Member

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    I attempted that. I ended up breakign a pen in frustration.
     
  14. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    use a pencil and take time over it.
    You will get the hang of it eventually..that is part of the fun.desigining your own and you can have your drawing in the story as well..imagine the fun:p
     
  15. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    "Looks like a fish, moves like a fish, steers like a cow."

    Remembering this description of a spaceship in Hitchiker's Guide makes me think that you might want to consider going very, very simplistic with your description. The sentence above gives me a mental image that's perfectly satisfactory. It's probably not the same as the mental image that forms in anyone else's head, but is it essential that your reader see exactly what you see, or just that they see something that satisfies them?
     
  16. RusticOnion
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    RusticOnion Contributing Member

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    Well Corgz you really need to pick up some shape/scape ship/ship terms, which would really help you, the problem is you lack the words to describe it, so obviously you need to find them.
    Perhaps using metaphors would also help?

    The cockpit was shaped like a...

    Then move onto the spine which is slightly narrower which has what appear to be hatch doors?

    Then say it became slightly wider to allow room for the wings and thrusters?

    ^ this is or course only a guideline.

    Also, when you take away the wings and the boosters you end up with a sort of hourglass shape, perhaps that might help?
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    'one' makes no sense, unless it had more than one skin and you then go on to describe the other one/s...

    so what do you mean by 'the one'?
     
  18. TheIllustratedMan
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    TheIllustratedMan Active Member

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    I think that's a typo for "once".
     
  19. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You don't HAVE to describe it, you know.
     
  20. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This. Probably the less you describe it, the better, unless there's a special feature of it that has some effect on the plot. Your reader is not going to see the same picture as you do, anyway, even if you spend pages on the description.

    Learn to trust the reader's imagination. Who knows? Your reader might visualize something way cooler than you do, anyway!
     
  21. Enzo03
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    Many Sci-Fi novels I have read do not directly describe a spaceship's appearance. The ones that do so generally use metaphors to describe it. The ship in the book A Fire Upon The Deep describes the ship as looking a bit like a moth, though I believe the wings were not a physical part of the ship. It also described large spines hundreds of meters long coming out of the hull. There's also mention of traditional ramscoop ships (slowships) as well. Strangely, the cover art for the book depicts the ship as looking like a gigantic manta ray. David Brin's Uplift novels have some physical descriptions as well. The Sunships in Sundiver are simply perfect spheres on the outside, though there are also detailed interior descriptions. An alien ship in the second novel, Startide Rising is merely described as a large wedge shape in the distance. Larry Niven's Ringworld novels may or may not have physical descriptions of starships used in them.

    I don't wanna put it this way, but I think the picture you posted is one of those many spaceships that have a bad tendency to look like a... a... well, just check this link out. :)

    Perhaps a good way to start is by simply saying it has a bit of a utilitarian design, as this ship does seem to be one which falls into that category as opposed to a sleek, shiny space ship as would probably have been imagined in the 50s or so. Think about how long and wide (and possibly tall) it is. Now ask yourself "What makes it as utilitarian as it appears?" Does it have removable panels lining the hull? Is it modular in design? etc.

    If it is really important that you describe the physical appearance of the ship but you're still having trouble, I think it might be a good idea to see your absolute best effort so far here, but as has been said before, you probably do not need to worry so much about how the ship looks. It is generally better not to worry about whether or not the reader will get the correct image of the ship in your head because you would have to actually draw the ship yourself in order to do this. And the funny thing is that even then there's still a chance the reader can get it wrong! :p
     
  22. Corgz
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    Corgz Senior Member

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    Enzo, no. haha
    I was extremely ambiguous about the spaceship...
    I realised it didn't matter too much when it came to description because it was the last time you ever really heard of the spacecraft. oops.. spoiler... anyway, check my signature, i updated the story and its got the description :)
     

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