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  1. Maximum Potato

    Maximum Potato New Member

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    Describing Dark Beauty

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Maximum Potato, Jul 17, 2020.

    Moderator Note - this thread is locked, as the subject belongs in our Workshop area. The Word Mechanics section is for short, specific questions about grammar, word usage, etc. New Member didn't know, so no harm done. :)

    Hey there! First time poster here, so I hope I've got this in the right place. I'm an amateur writer and long time DnD player, and I'm looking to write a short paragraph to describe the transformation of a character I'm playing. To give you some context, the character has made several deals with devils for beauty and fame, and this final transformation is where she becomes the person she's always wanted to be. I really want to ham up the description - she's vain and egotistical, and I want the writing to reflect that. Though I also really want to convey the idea that she's almost too perfect, to the point where it's more scary than alluring.

    "The swirling maelstrom of dark energy tears at her skin, ripping hair from its roots and flesh from their bones, stripping away the needless excess of the human form. At last the storm begins to clear, the woman ready to be reborn into the world. What emerges is a creature of vespertine beauty, flawless beyond comparison. Every inch of her body a masterpiece etched in charcoal and blood. Her eyes glimmer with the light of a thousand dying stars and carry the lustful confidence that could stop a man’s heart. And yet, there was something dreadful about her. Every part of her too perfect, a forbidden fantasy realised with such terrifying detail that it paralysed onlookers with an equal mix of fascination and horror."

    I don't want it to go on too long, since this is a piece of collaborative storytelling, and I feel the current description is a bit fluffy, for lack of a better word. I know this is far from the standards most people on here write to, but I'd appreciate any feedback on how I could make this stronger.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 17, 2020
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  2. Teladan

    Teladan Contributor Contributor

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    I'm not sure how Dungeons and Dragons narratives work, but it seems to be to be written too much in a passive form, e.g. "What emerges is a creature of vespertine beauty." I don't think it's as purple as you suggest, and I like the etched in charcoal and blood sentence, but you could remove the references to the character's being too perfect. This is just telling us that she's perfect and your descriptions should perhaps reflect that instead. In a similar way, something about the forbidden fantasy line seems too "meta" to me. Perhaps I'm wrong, but the tense seems to shift in this excerpt a few times. It's both present and past. Minor emendations:

    Ripping hair from its roots and flesh from their bones > Ripping hair from root and flesh from bone
    Eyes glimmer... dying stars > Anything but this as, not to be harsh, it's overdone
     
  3. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    "Eyes that glimmer with the light of a thousand dying stars"—it sounds as if her beauty is dying right before our eyes moment by moment.

    "Every inch of her body a masterpiece etched in charcoal and blood."—It might be because I'm an artist but this bothers me. Partly because you don't etch with charcoal (that's a technical thing), but more importantly because I can't help but picture her covered with blood and smeared with black charcoal dust. Doesn't sound attractive at all.

    I'd also avoid Vespertine, because I don't think anybody has ever heard the word before. In fact, my spell checker doesn't think it's a word at all. Or maybe it's very familiar to your DnD group? In which case I suppose it would work.
     
  4. Maximum Potato

    Maximum Potato New Member

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    Thank you both for the feedback. I think you raise a very good point Teladan: saying explicitly that she's too perfect feels wrong, since a good description can do that without needing to actually say it. Slipping between tenses is definitely a sin of mine, so I'll be sure to correct that. The dying stars is definitely a touch cliche, but I think I can replace that with something a bit more relevant to the setting anyway.

    I'll revisit the 'etched in charcoal and blood' section at your recommendation, Xoic. Technical or not, if that's the image its sending then it warrants some revision, especially since many of the other players are artists themselves! Vespertine was a word I found trawling some old forum posts which apparently means 'relating to, or blooming in the evening.' Nice in theory, but perhaps a bit forced. Plenty of other gothic words I can put in there instead.
     
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  5. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Moderator hat on here: This Word Mechanics subforum is a place to ask a specific question about word mechanics—like which form of a verb is correct, etc. Unfortunately, it's not a place to get more detailed feedback on a piece of writing. That can only be asked for in our Workshop area ...and there are requirements you must meet first, before you are allowed to post in the Workshop.

    Don't worry ...it's an honest and very common New Member mistake! :) I am sending you a Conversation (a PM) to explain more fully. I've locked this thread to further responses, but have left it as it is, because people have responded—which I hope has been helpful to you. No harm done.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2020
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