1. ObsidianVale
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    ObsidianVale Member

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    Mostly Dialog

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by ObsidianVale, Jul 10, 2009.

    im not sure if this has already been covered or not but if it has please point me in the right direction.

    ok so i was working on my story today when i realized that it was mostly dialog. For almost the entire time the story took place it was either the two characters talking to one another or it was the MC thinking to her self ( not sure if it's important but my story is in third person)

    So basically does anyone have any tips for how i can describe the world around my characters enough so that i can at least give my audience a sense of where my characters are.

    it seems like i have gone through two extremes. Reading over some of my old work ( mind you this means it was writen when i was probably between the ages of 12-16) I use to describe things in detail. and i mean in DETAIL. I admit that i went over board and started describing things that really didn't need to be described. i can only describe it as trying to literally paint a picture with words. ( which of course makes for a very very boring story).

    Now years later i have tried to cut back on my describing but now i practically don't describe anything at all. I see it in my head. Like as if i were watching a movie. But im not sure what to put in and what not to. i once heard that you shouldn't describe more then what you need to make the plot go forward. But im writing a fantasy and i want to share the wonder of my magical land with my audience. So how can i learn to do that?

    I also heard once that there was a different between talking at someone about your story and showing people your story. Not sure if that makes sense to anyone else but i want to be albe to show people my world not just talk at them and hope they can understand what i mean.


    any advice or tips would be greatly appresiated
     
  2. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Of course, the ideal is a personal balance that works. Different themes lend themselves to be written in different ways, but ultimately it is the author's skill that makes a piece great, or not. Great books (not many mind) have been written with no dialogue at all, and though I know of none, I am sure great books exist entirely written in dialogue (in so much as that's possible). On a different note, I recently re-read Of Mice And Men and noted the heavy reliance on dialogue in that, so perhaps, for the purposes of research, you may want to pick that up (again, if applicable). That is heralded a classic and taught in many schools - surely a good point of reference.
     
  3. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    The road was foggy like a cloudy river.

    The wind brushed the fog down the road like a cloudy river.

    She walked down a foggy road, a thick fog that brushed around her legs like a cloudy river. She could only feel its cold bite, otherwise it was an unfelt ghost.

    Or:

    She walked down a foggy road and a thick fog brushed around her legs like a cloudy river.


    I prefer the third. If I can ever describe scenery using actions, I do so. You have to deside what things to describe. But first you should think about the mood you wish to create because that should help you deside what things to describe and how to describe them.
     
  4. Martin Lesnoy
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    Martin Lesnoy Member

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    You just need to get the balance right, first and foremost. There aren't any established rules about this. All you need to concern yourself with, is to make sure you are sufficiently accounting for each scene-building element. Give the reader enough description to be able to construct a mental picture of the scene, and not too much as to overwhelm the reader with superfluous information, more than likely to make he/she want to reach for another book.

    I invite you to post an excerpt of your work on the Novel Review section of the forums. I would certainly be happy to go through it in detail, and in reference to your own writing.

    --Martin Lesnoy
     
  5. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    I often feel like I am not showing enough of my surroundings and too much dialog too. I do a lot of dialog. Just take a look at my short story in the current contest. I barely describe my characters, I briefly describe where they are (sitting on a fallen log in my secondary character's back yard,) and I don't give any character description of my MC, only my secondary character.

    In my current story, everything is told from my females MC's first person POV. Everything is either in her head or spoken in dialog. I use her to describe the people around her and the places she is, but I only do the bare minimum to give the reader enough to go on, so that they can fill in the blanks with their imagination.

    I really try not to over detail people. I find all that purplely prose to be boring and dull. I think the only people who could get away with that died years ago...and were published between 1700's and 1920.

    Look up the story The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gillman. This story is full of imagery, but is done so well that it isn't boring. It's also a really good read.

    When I am writing a first draft, I tend to just write. I worry about the editing process later, when I will see if my setting description is enough to invoke the imagery I was aiming for.

    I know what you mean about seeing it like a movie in your head. I do that too. The best why I have found to see if my work has enough, is to let someone read it and get their opinion. Whether we like what they have to say or not, it is the best way to gauge how much more we need, or less in some cases.

    Try giving a few critiques here and post a short story. I'm sure you'll get some good help here, the people who review here seem to do a pretty good job of it.
     

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