1. ingames
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    ingames New Member

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    Underwriting- I mean, WAY UNDER

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by ingames, Mar 6, 2011.

    Alright see, when I write, I tend to write very laconically, ie describing only the most necessary parts and moving on. Then, when I re read it the next day, I wish I'd elaborate some more and say more things. Things which don't come no matter how hard I think.

    I really don't get how authors like Clive Barker write a whopping 1000+ pages of a novel, eg Imajica. I've found though, that the more I write the more I elaborate, but it still isn't enough.

    Any advice?
     
  2. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    Keep writing. I know this may not be what you want to hear, but it's true. Just keep writing. I've had the same thought go through my head time after time when reading back on my own work -- how concise and restricted my paragraphs seemed. But practicing now for weeks, I've realized how much more detail I do put into my writing. And that's all it took: practice.
     
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  3. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd do a writing exercise, say daily, where you select an object e.g. a coat, a lamp, a bowl and for ten minutes describe the object in as much detail as possible. Or select a character, either an existing one or a new one, and put them in a situation e.g. getting the bus, shopping, gardening, and write as much detail as possible about this - how they feel, what they're thinking, how they go about doing these things and so on. You could also try writing a simple sentence like 'The dog ran across the park' and then on every next line you elaborate more on it such as the next line could be 'The black dog ran across the park' and then 'The black dog ran across the muddy park towards another dog' etc.
     
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  4. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    I haven't read Clive Barker, but some of the writers with 1000+ page novels tend to put in a lot of boring filler which doesn't add to the story, so it's not necessarily something to take after, IMHO.

    It became easier for me to write descriptions when I realised they should be filled with meaning: they should tell the reader something important about the plot, the fictional world or the character.

    For example, descriptions of a character's clothing can be very boring, unless they tell the reader something about his/her character which they can relate to. For example, the clothes are tattered because the character is poor. Or the character dresses like a goth, which ties in with their attitude towards authorities. Or their clothes are very neat, because today they're on their way to a job interview, and they really, really need that job.

    So, by asking myself questions like "What would my character dress like?" or "What would people eat in my fictional world?", and keeping the answers at the back of my mind, the descriptions start flowing naturally from the world and characters.

    Of course people use bone knives in the imaginary country of Espinudo; they don't know mining, and most of their food comes from fishing and whaling, so it only makes sense to make use of the bones. And of course the blades of the bone knives have notches close to the shaft - how else would they keep away the angry spirits of the animals they kill? That's the whole point of appeasing them with their traditional dance every full moon, isn't it? And of course they keep their knives in fish leather sheaths - what else would they make them of? And of course the knives are curved, since they're made from seal ribs. And so on.
     
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  5. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have the same problem, but as Tayleea said, it has gotten better by practise. I tend to write very short and concise texts, and sometimes the details come to me when i re-read it, over and over, or sometimes they come when putting the piece aside for a while and then looking at it again. then I come up with ideas how to elaborate the things more specifically and describe things that you didnt put much emphasis on before. Dont worry, i think too that it is something that can be improved with practise and experience.
     
  6. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    The way I see it, you need to find more things that feels necessary.

    Say, you need to take the step from viewing the scene as.

    "The necessary stuff if that this information is exchanged in the dialog."


    to:
    "The necessary stuff if that this information is exchanged in the dialog AND that it come across that these people dont like each other very much."


    to:
    "The necessary stuff if that this information is exchanged in the dialog and that it come across that these people dont like each other very much. Plus that the reader is given a chance to suspect that A is morally torn. "


    You shouldn't add more description for descriptions sake. You should try to give the scene more levels and meaningful content hinted through what is conveyed.
     
  7. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with Tayleea - what draft is this ? My first draft is always light on words and description. Also over time I have been able to work on this.

    I recently rewrote my first novel - it was originally completed at 50K - it is now at 80K. I rewrote a chapter of a novella I wrote at christmas and 700 words has become nearly 3K and that was with me cutting parts of the story.
     
  8. Leonardo Pisano
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    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

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    Great posts!

    Reading the answers of the feed-backers I now see the question has TWO levels:
    1. What level is important for the story to go forward? [Thanks, Islander, btw]
    2. If a detail is needed, you need to be able to flesh it out. This requires some writing skills and I like the suggestion of in particular Eunoia to sharpen your tools.

    Generically, I think #1 is the most difficult to decide upon. Too little is equally killing as too much. I am goal-oriented and have the same problem as the OP -- I tend to stick to the main point and forget these details that describe the atmosphere.

    Thanks to all - this helped me a lot.
     
  9. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Something to bear in mind is that people have different styles. Sometimes concise writing is very good.

    But I agree with the advice to keep on writing and worry about editing later.

    My first full would-be novel years back was only around 75,000 words long.

    Lots of re-writing, cutting & editing followed to end up making it a 'respectable' length. I found it much harder than I anticipated, but with perserverance I got there.

    Good luck.
     
  10. Smoke
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    Smoke Contributing Member

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    You could always explore the whys. What is the character thinking that causes him to react in that way? Why does he decide to do something?

    In one conversation I wrote, one character is urging another to connect the dots as to why X works and Y doesn't. I regretted not writing down the reason behind the epiphany immediately because it stopped making sense to me the next day. I included my reconstruction of the reasonings.

    Another conversation had a similar vein. Though it was more apparent, I decided to take the reader through the character's head instead of just saying "he took a moment to catch up with her hop-scotching thoughts."
     
  11. Terry D
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    Terry D Active Member

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    Don't worry about it. Write with nouns and verbs. Read Hemmingway.
     
  12. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, I forgot to mention in my reply that concise writing can be very good. It lets the reader do a lot of the work. I agree with the above suggestion of what to read, but also try some Raymond Carver.
     
  13. ArckAngel
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    ArckAngel Member

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    This.

    Hemmingway is one of the best known and most commonly read people in the English world. He's known as one of the greats. And he writes in a stark descriptionless fashion. But he is the master after all.
     
  14. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    First time I write a scene I'll only focus on dialogue and maybe facial expressions or emotions. Then when I go back to edit I'll try to focus on details of the surrounding area or atmosphere.

    It also helps to have other people look at your work too,because they may interpret things differently than you intended. :D
     

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