1. HondaWriter
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    HondaWriter Member

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    Tips on writing scenery

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by HondaWriter, Oct 22, 2009.

    I find that Im okay with writing scenery but I usually cant get past a sentence or two without it just sounded dull. Where is the line crossed when describing the surroundings of the character to the point it doesnt matter anymore and the reader is bored?

    It's the area I need the most work on.
     
  2. Speedy
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    Speedy Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not like i can really say much (because i over describe) but the reader only needs to know what is relevant. Write down what you want and just read it over and over, you'll know what reads as interesting and what reads as filler (as it'll add notihng to the story and just waste words whc could be used better).
     
  3. Sillraaia
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    Sillraaia Senior Member

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    Then maybe you only need a sentence or two of description.
    Movement is good to break things up also, if you want to work more description in without just droning on the description alone.
     
  4. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    I like to change what part of the scenery I describe. For example, I dedicate some time to the geographical features, then focus on the weather or another point of interest.

    You are right though, i think more than paragraph is enough to paint the picture.
     
  5. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    You can write about how your mc feels about what your describing, you can describe it in terms of action. i.e, Bailey fell on the floor and scraped his (or her, is Bailey a masculine name?) elbow on the rough ground. Blah, you get the idea.

    I worry about description as well. Truth is, it is very important (at least IMO). But we should try not to worry too much about it because we will get caught up in it. The reader's mind will have images flashing before his/her eyes all the time, whether we show them what something looks like or not.
     
  6. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Bailey can be both a male and a female name. Or so says this website I found with name origins :D
     
  7. Twisted Inversely
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    Twisted Inversely Senior Member

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    One to two sentences doesn't sound too extreme.

    Like JWatson said having a character do something while the scenery is described isn't a bad way of maintaining interest. Just be aware that it can easily degenerate into the good ol' Character X wanders aimlessly around location such and such for several pages doing nothing particularly relevant to the plot sequence.
     
  8. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I always strive to describe using action or introspection. I don't like to be slowed down during a first draft, so if the description doesn't come naturally to me through action and introspection, then I just describe things. Upon rewrites, I try to convert most of the normal description into action and introspection.

    I should give an example of what I mean.



    As she walked through the tall grass, the soft pedal's of daisies tickled her toes and rubbed against her ankles. Oh, how she loved the green hills spotted with white flowers and pink cherry trees, and how the hills rolled on forever, all the way to the blue sky. She imagined dancing in the fluffy clouds and around the golden disk. Then she danced around a cherry tree and kicked the trunk, causing it to rain pink blossoms upon her.

    I would try to do something like that rather than just describing the setting. Below is another way I think that is a tad more interesting than just raw description. I guess it is anthropomorphizing everything.

    The breeze slanted the tall grass on the rolling green hills, which were spotted with yellow and white daisies. Pink cherry trees stood on the hills as if they were friends holding hands and occasionally dropped pink blossoms. The rolling hills went on as far as the eye could see, all the way to the blue sky, where fluffy clouds hung out with the golden disk.

    :) I don't know if I was helpful.
     
  9. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Oh, yeah, I think we only need a short paragraph to set up a scene and placement of people. One thing I don't like about China Mieville is how long he drones on at times describing things. Sure, it paints a vivid picture but at the expense of boring me.
     
  10. Sillraaia
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    Sillraaia Senior Member

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    Yes, the idea when writing a story is to gently guide the reader's mind, not grab a hold of it and drag it around. Only write the important / relevant stuff, and let the reader imagine the rest however they WANT to see it. Their own imagination can picture and work things out to their own specific tastes, if you leave them enough room.
    Just don't leave them so much room to be flailing about. :)
     
  11. Fox Favinger
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    Fox Favinger Contributing Member

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    I gotta point out the opening scene in the Bourne Supremacy. The author literally takes a page to describe the scene, everything from it's general appearance, some notable details, what the people are doing and what they are generally like the, the smells, it goes on! By the time I'm done the page I can taste the air! Robert Ludlum has incredible knowledge of the places he's been to and stays amazingly true to the real life places, but he has an unfair advantage as he's traveled all over the world and had a lifetime of meeting different cultures before even becoming a writer lol

    So whenever I'm in need advice on scenery description i usually just pop open one of my Ludlum books and read the first page. But I look at it too on how Ludlum got these details. Obviously he knew these places well. Start with what you know and then try to build it up into something more imaginative.

    Sorry if I sound weird, I should have gone to bed hours ago lol :p
     
  12. HondaWriter
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    HondaWriter Member

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    These are all great posts.
     
  13. Mulgan
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    Mulgan Active Member

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    I think it all depends! Describing a scene could go on for ever, but in the context of a story this could lose meaning very quickly.
    Generally the purpose of mentioning scenery is so the reader can build an image of the world your text suggests, and the wider picture is for reader entertainment.

    You need a clear vision of the significance of the scenery, if you are merely using it to create atmosphere then this will show. Worlds are supposed to feel like organic things that are bigger and more powerful (usually) than the characters within them, perhaps bare this in mind.
    Keep it relevent. If you feel more thorough detail is needed (the type which can otherwise lead to a convoluted, monotonous description), try subtle techniques to build more gradually a world which is related to the plot and characters. For example you could use character interactions with the scenery, their thoughts, plans or memories of it. Relate it all back to the current direction of the plot, and return to it as new directions or changes take place. Even the other way round;- as the scenery changes how this can influence the characters and plots.


    I'm not massively experienced, but hope it helps

    Mulgan
     
  14. Nackl of Gilmed
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    Nackl of Gilmed Member

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    Try focusing on something alive or in motion in the scenery. After reading some of this thread, I'm reminded of a bit in 'The Waste Lands' the third book in Stephen King's Dark Tower series. There's a good page or so describing a mutated deer wandering the wastes. King goes on for a bit about how she's quite pure-blooded for a mutie, how four of her five young survived their childhood, how despite her lame and boneless fifth leg she's very fit - and then she's ripped to shreds as the train that the main characters are riding zooms past her at supersonic speeds.

    Failing that, describe the mood of the scenery in one or two sentences and let the reader imagine the rest.
     
  15. Fox Favinger
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    Fox Favinger Contributing Member

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    I definitely think fiction needs less description than non-fiction. In fiction I want to use my imagination, in non-fiction I want to be there and see how things happened. Of course when using familiar places description of the setting isn't always necessary in non-fiction. I just finished Donny Brasco and Joe Pistone only goes into detail on a few neighborhoods, all the other cities he assumes we know pretty well. Knowing your target audience always helps :)
     
  16. AmandaC
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    AmandaC Member

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    Keep in mind when writing about scenery that the purpose is to provide setting and suspend disbelief. Use it as an opportunity to explore the senses of your characters and make it seem "real" to the reader.
     
  17. Cyrano
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    Cyrano Member

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    Try not to sound different than your normal writing style when doing scenery. I think THAT stands out even more than cheesy or bad writing.
     

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