1. sashas
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    sashas Senior Member

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    Imagery

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by sashas, Jun 19, 2007.

    Is it just me, or do others too find imagery and long descriptions boring and distracting? I hate writers who describe things in detail, things that don't need to be described.
    I was just reading 'To Kill A Mocking Bird' the other day. Great book. But I couldn't understand why she had to spend pages upon pages just on describing things we all know of. She describes a court in one full page...where the judge sits, where the jury sits, the interiors, etc. etc.

    I think that it was necessary to describe things in so much detail when there was no TV or movies. Because back then, lots of people hadn't seen lots of things in their lives. They hadn't seen courts, or castles etc. They needed to be told how things looked.
    But now, we have so much visual information already stockpiled in our brains that we don't need to describe much anyways. Saying 'court' immediately brings to mind the image of a court. Saying 'large Caribbean cruiser' again does the same.

    Of course, if you write fantasy or sci-fi, then descriptions are important since you're talking about things people might've not seen. But in other areas...I don't think you need a lotta imagery or descriptions.
     
  2. Baywriter
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    Baywriter Contributing Member Contributor

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    No. I love imagery. That's my favorite part of writing. I like knowing what I'm reading. And I love imagery that's described in metaphors and similies. Oh, it just gives me shivers. Sometimes I'll skip over the dialogue just to read the detail. I think it's great.

    This is just my opinion, but I find writers who don't put in a lot of detail to be lazy. I mean, I could write a bunch of dialogue in fifteen minutes.
     
  3. Heather Louise
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    Heather Louise Contributing Member Contributor

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    i absolutly love good descroption. i would much rather be told all about the object rather than it being left. sometimes people can go a little overboard, but i love to read it all.
    Heather
     
  4. SnipSnap
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    SnipSnap Active Member

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    I think it's necessary to have good imagery and description, just as long as it's not confusing, and as long as it's not your actual story. I also think there should be a balance between description, action, and dialogue, and all three of those elements intermix. So ... if it's done correctly ... some books come off as remarkable because it has that stunning mixture of dialogue, detail, and action.
     
  5. RustyHicks
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    RustyHicks Member

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    Imagary is good, as long as it isn't too wordy and long. It bothers me when a writer takes up half a page to describe something that really has nothing to do with the story. Long, compilcated words also grind my nerves. It's one of the reasons I've never finished reading Contact
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    This will doubtless come as a huge surprise, but I will have to take the side favoring vivid images. A good description will show you things in even a familiar scene that you might never have noticed. A well-described scene surrounds you with the ambience experienced by the characters, and helps you feel like you are actually there rather than listening to a news story.

    But yes, it can definitely be carried too far. If your story is in an intense action phase, the characters aren't going to looking at the way the sunlight makes the water sparkle. On the other hand, if the characters are waiting for hours to be seen, their boredom may make them notice every excruciatingly mundane detail. So the level of description can convey the pace of the story at that point.
     
  7. sashas
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    sashas Senior Member

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    I like the Hemingway approach to this. He never used big words or excessive imagery. His style of writing was pure economy, nothing else.
    I realize that many people on this forum are into stuff that requires lots of descriptive passages. If you're writing fantasy, sci-fi, or even horror, then you need to describe things. Economy of words doesn't really apply here.
    Literary writers, on the other hand, can get away with sparse descriptions.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Hemingway often used strong imagery in his works. He was also very economical with his words. The two are not incompatible by any means.

    Consider this excerpt from "For Whom The Bell Tolls":
    This descriptive paragraph is surrounded by a very terse conversation.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    bad writing can't be short enough and exceptional writing can't be too long...

    'nuff said?
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Well and succinctly put, mamma!
     
  11. WhispWillow
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    WhispWillow Contributing Member

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    I myself like imagery, however, on one of the chapters of "Lord of the Flies" I found myself getting bored at very long description!
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I haven't read Golding in many (many!) years. But I have seen what you are talking about before also. Just as an unbroken stream of dialog is referred to as "talking heads", there needs to be a catchphrase for self-indulgent overdescription.

    It is comparable to the cinematographic sin committed in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, in which the camera spent minutes showing us views from every angle of the refitted Enterprise. Even the hard core Trek fanatics were moaning, "Enough, already!"
     
  13. SnipSnap
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    SnipSnap Active Member

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    Lol ... I started reading the lord of the flies today ... and it's mostly great imagery so far, so I'll be looking for the boring part to see what you mean.
     
  14. satisverborum2003
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    satisverborum2003 New Member

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    I like imagery when it's done well and isn't overdone like stretching several pages long and have no bearing to the plot (I mean how on earth will knowing the wallpaper texture help our heroine on her journey?). However, I often skip short and long passages of imagery and until recently, I never liked writing too much descriptions of a scene. I think myself of more as a plot and character driven writer.
     
  15. sashas
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    sashas Senior Member

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    I tried to read the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings once. I gave up after they were still climbing the mountain after 40 pages.
    I guess you need to have the apetite for it, as well as a love for that genre. A guy who doesnt really read fantasy (like me) would kill himself reading Lord of the Rings, even when he acknowledges its genius.
     
  16. The Emperial Kid
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    The Emperial Kid New Member

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    I think it makes a book better when there is a lot of imagery in it. Of course, you do come across a few people who use it a tad bit much, especially when they decide to use five pages describing the ticking of a clock or some silly thing like that. -.-
     

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