1. Bluefire

    Bluefire Member

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    Describing things is hard without giving a play by play.

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Bluefire, Apr 18, 2020.

    Yes, hello, I'm back, and with another question lel... Anyways, im trying to describe an average training scene, my MC has absolutely no idea what's going on and all she's trying to do is defend and dodge the blows coming from her Fae Instructer, (so you know he hits really hard) but it sounds almost cliche to me, and I was wondering if someone else had a different way of writing it that fit better without sounding super choppy and less of a 'I don't know how to give you this image feel.' The paragraph is this...

    "Begin." He flips his daggers up and one rests right below his stomach, the other up by his face almost barrier like as he couches down slightly and starts moving sideways in a cricle, mimicking him, she does the same. While watching, she notices that he leans slightly back, just before he launches at her. He hits her in the cheek with the end of his hilt, and promptly strikes her in the stomach, the air wafting from her lungs.
     
  2. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Senior Member

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    Personally, I prefer high detail. On the flip side, when my girlfriend reviews what I have written she usually come back with, "Cut this, this and this. Rephrase that."
    And that's just, like, one paragraph...

    The only real problem I have with this bit is that it's in present tense. Forgive me if I'm using the wrong term for it, I wasn't very good at it in Dutch, let alone in English. What I mean is I'd prefer to read:
    "Begin." He flipped his daggers up and one rested right below his stomach, the other up by his face almost like a barrier as he crouched down slightly and started moving sideways in a cricle. Mimicking him, she did the same.

    As far as my advice goes: Please keep in mind that I never finished anything more than eight-page shorts in my life, none of them published officially.
     
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  3. Bluefire

    Bluefire Member

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    So I actually have over 13 chapters but I'm rewriting them from first person to not first person because the repetition of 'I' drove me insane. The story itself is in present tense but uses she and he and words like that. Is that abnormal? If so please tell me and I'll rewrite it again to where it makes more sense.
     
  4. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Senior Member

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    I'm not sure I understand you correctly, but the way I read your question I figure that's fine.
    Only reason the present tense thing is an issue for me is because that's some advice I got a long time ago. My story was good, it was just too bad it wasn't written in (the more traditional) past tense. When I reluctantly did do a rewrite I got mad accolades in the StarControl fanfic community, you know, what every writer aims for. ;o)
     
  5. Bluefire

    Bluefire Member

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    Hmmm... thank you for the piece of advice, I'm greatly considering changing to past tense now... it would be way easier to write too I believe.
     
  6. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Alternate sentence length for rhythm.
    include sensory detail - i.e. the glint of the blades, the sweat gathering, the whoosh of the blade, the sting of the hilt cracking against her cheek
    chose words that angle the mood you're going for - if your mc is nervous, confused, uncertain, scared use adjectives/verbs/nouns that reinforce that
    convey your mc's emotions either in description - i.e. heart pounded, or thought - i.e. I can't do this, I'm not ready
     
  7. labelab

    labelab Member

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    Hey, I started a thread just like this about a year ago now. My tip? If something feels too wordy, try splitting it into two or three sentences and seeing how that sounds. Sometimes too many connectives can distort the message.
    https://www.writingforums.org/threads/how-much-is-too-much.162619/
    Hope it helps! Xx
     
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  8. Aaron Smith

    Aaron Smith Banned Contributor

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    I think @Bakkerbaard is right in that you should change it to past tense, but otherwise it is okay. This is one paragraph. Is the whole piece part by part? If not, then you should be fine.
     
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  9. Bluefire

    Bluefire Member

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    Thank you!!
     
  10. Bluefire

    Bluefire Member

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    Part by part, what do you mean? It's a Saturday and my brain is not with me unfortunately
     
  11. Aaron Smith

    Aaron Smith Banned Contributor

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    It's saturday for me too and I don't sleep anymore. I meant play-by-play like in your title.
     
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  12. Bluefire

    Bluefire Member

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    Ahhh, that makes wayyyyy more sense, the thing I often find hard with my writing, is I want to put TONS of descriptions in it, and some people like descriptions but others believe that less is more ya know? So I have a hard time trying to find the happy medium.
     
  13. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Yes, it needs to be divided up into shorter sentences. Example:

    I would consider something more like this:

    "Begin!"

    He flips his daggers up. One rests right below his stomach, the other up by his face almost barrier like. He couches down slightly and starts moving sideways in a cricle. Mimicking him, she does the same.


    But I think I see what you're getting at by saying you can't avoid the play-by-play. Everything is happening moment to moment with no idea of the larger patterns of the fight or the strategies/behavior of the participants. I would pull back form the close point-by-point stuff and give a longer view, something like this:

    He crouched slightly and began a slow circling movement that forced her to respond in like kind, putting her completely on the defensive.

    This clues the reader in to why he's doing it and why she's responding the same way.

    She moved awkwardly, had never trained in this strange sidewise style and found it very disorienting. But he was on familiar territory, almost dancing and grinning wickedly into her face. While she struggled to coordinate her feet he struck twice with lighting rapidity. The first smashed into her face. She didn't see the second slam into her gut but it doubled her over and dumped her on the ground in a retching heap.

    Having written it, I now see that I also described the results of each move, to give a fuller sense of what's going on. To immerse the reader more.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2020
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  14. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    You could cut a lot of detail if you wanted to

    "Begin
    he flicked his daggers up, one high, one low, and started circling. She moved with him mimicking his stance. Lunging forward he crashed the hilt of one dagger into her cheek, the other slamming into her stomach"
     
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  15. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Another key for avoiding the play-by-play is to understand the difference between a listing of events and a story.

    List of events:

    This happened, and then this happened. Another thing happened, and then something else.

    Story:

    Our hero was trying to ________, but was stymied by ___________. So therefore she tried to ___________, but __________ rendered that ineffective. Not to be foiled for long, she decided to _________________, and the result was that _________________.

    See the difference? Each event is necessitated by what went before, and results in certain consequences. It's a logical chain of cause and effect.

    In your outline look out for the Ands, there should be instead a lot of Sos and Therefores and Becauses.
     
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  16. Bluefire

    Bluefire Member

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    Thank you so much, this helps a TON.
     
  17. Bluefire

    Bluefire Member

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    That seems to flow better... thank ya!!
     
  18. Bluefire

    Bluefire Member

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    Holy crap, can you just write my book for me?? You're so good!!!!
     
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  19. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Sure! And it'll only cost you 27 million dollars!
     
  20. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    Apparently, some modern YA fiction is written in present tense. But for me, it really, really grates. Present tense, IMO, should be used sparing for effect - I can't really bear to read anything more than a paragraph long.

    It depends on your audience.
     
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  21. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    I would suggest reading what other authors have done.

    One that springs to mind is Dune. It has a fight scene near the end when Paul Atreides fights Feyd-Rautha.
     
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  22. Bluefire

    Bluefire Member

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    Can we work out a monthly payment? My children's children will be paying that off to your descendents. LMAO
     
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  23. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Yeah, present tense is very unusual, and should only be used for certain kinds of stories where it seems called for. Also, it seems like it's generally used with first person (or second person, but that's even more gimmicky). If you're writing in third I think it would be hard to justify present tense. I once wrote a story in present first but that seemed appropriate because it was a massive shared dream between all the characters. Using first person present gave it the immediacy that seemed right for a dream.
     
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  24. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    What an excellent approach! And it builds in the thought/emotional processes as well. Yes. This.
     
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  25. Aaron Smith

    Aaron Smith Banned Contributor

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    Something I have wondered: what is the purpose of this scene in terms of the character development? Do you view it as an important scene or is it - in your universe - roughly as important as doing the dishes?
     
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