1. Bluefire

    Bluefire Member

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    How to describe a dress without being too wordy?? HALP!

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Bluefire, Sep 17, 2020.

    Guess what... I am indeed back. I'm trying to describe this, but whatever way I go about it I feel like I'm telling too much and not showing enough, but when I show it loses the descriptive aspect, I've come here because I know all of you can look outside of the box and I'm willing to admit when something is out of my expertise. Any examples would be extremely helpful.[​IMG]
     
  2. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Senior Member

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    I lack the English vocabulary to properly describe most dresses, so instead of being helpful, I'll tell you how I cheat my way around it.
    I can have any kind of dress in my mind and describe it as accurate as I can, the reader is going to form a totally different picture based on how they're seeing the characters in their head.
    So I just go light on details, limiting myself to only the things that I feel must be present in the reader's fantasy.
    In this case, I would try to convey it was a blue dress so long that it made her look like she floated when she walked across the hall, while the leather detail on the corset rising up from the waistband gave her a regal appearance.
    You'll wanna reorder that mess of words, obviously. Also, the word 'tunic' comes to mind, as far as the top half goes, but I'm not sure so I'm not gonna risk it. ;o)
     
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  3. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber marshmallow Contributor

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    Why do you need to describe it in depth? Honest question.
     
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  4. Lazaares

    Lazaares Contributor Contributor

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    This here. Describe what matters to the narrative or what matters to your POV character and let the reader figure out the rest.

    Other than that, it's a sleeveless keyhole-shoulder dress with an upwards-scooping corset and a circular A-line skirt with only one or no petticoat at all. The only detail missing there is the asymmetric waist-part.

    Though the lack of petticoats really makes the skirt near an Empire piece.
     
  5. Flamenco1

    Flamenco1 Member

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    Instantly reminded me of Yvonne De Carlo - Lilly Munster.

    I was thinking does the dress reflect your character who will wear it? I imagine the wearer being strong and confident. It isn't a dress doing the pretty or the sexual thing. It makes a statement and is classy. (From a man's perspective of course :oops:)
     
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  6. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    This, which in all honesty could be asked about most of these types of questions.

    You’re putting far too much time and effort into something the reader couldn’t care less about.
     
  7. Bluefire

    Bluefire Member

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    Thank you, this is a very good idea on how to get around it.
     
  8. Bluefire

    Bluefire Member

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    Because the dress has a significant meaning. I understand that reader won't care about this but I don't just want to say 'A long blue dress' because it's too vague. But it's significant because it has importance to one of the characters of the story.
     
  9. Bluefire

    Bluefire Member

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    I tend to do that a lot lol
     
  10. Bluefire

    Bluefire Member

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    That's a good spin of perspective... Thank you!
     
  11. Bluefire

    Bluefire Member

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    Thank you, I just needed some sort of description to go off of other than a blue dress, ya know?
     
  12. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    So did I. It’s so easy to get bogged down with stuff like this.
     
  13. DriedPen

    DriedPen Member

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    It depends on your writing style.

    Deep Description is my writing style, and that is not a cop-out for amateur writing. Growing up, I had a fondness for Stephen Crane who wrote the Red Badge of Courage. That was his style of writing as well.

    I do not see anything wrong with getting a bit wordy in the description of the dress if it holds some importance in the story. The key I think, is to not to get wordy on EVERY dress in the story, or it takes away from THAT dress. I call it the scalpel approach. make an incision in the story here with a detailed description of the dress, but don't butcher the story with a chainsaw approach to dress description.
     
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  14. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    The skirt pooled about her like a cascading waterfall, chiffon layering sumptuously, beckoning me to touch. The halterneck top revealed her smooth shoulders and accentuated her neck, and all that would have made her appear soft as a wisp if not for the detail in leather, crisscrossed under her small breasts and cinching her waist. A touch of strength, just enough, to give this princess the presence of a warrior.

    I don't know, play with it :)

    PS. it's a gorgeous dress.
     
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  15. Mark Burton

    Mark Burton Fried Egghead Contributor

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    The way you describe it, the dress is a kind of MacGuffin that interacts with one or more of your characters in the story. Therefore, rather than doing an infodump about the dress itself, talk about its interaction with the character. It's fine to do that, as others have said. Obviously, you can't do that with every item in the story, but if it's important to a major character, it's worth spending time to fill in the backstory.

    For example:
    Louise decided this was to be her night and the dress would help her make sure that happened. She'd got it on a whim a month ago after walking past Gordy's department store. Usually, she powered past the window displays on her way to work, but not that Tuesday. A pink dress caught her attention. It was on a mannequin in the shop window and, for once, she could see how it would hug her in all the right places. The trouble was it wasn't her colour. Confident she'd be disappointed, she entered the store and was approached by a middle-aged sales assistant with a smile plastered on her face.

    "Can I help you?" the woman asked politely.

    "Yes, that pink dress in the window." Louise pointed in the general direction of the display.

    The woman frowned. "Which one would that be, Maam?"

    Louise felt silly. There had been many pink dresses in the display as they were doing a pink theme. Unfortunately, the display was only visible from outside the store so she tried to describe it. "The one with the symmetrical leather straps around the bodice that plunge around the neckline."

    "I put that display out this morning, so I know there are 3 types. There's the one with the halter top...."

    "Yes, that's the one. Do you have it in blue?"

    The woman puffed out her cheeks. "Hmm, I'll have to go and look." She stepped back for a moment staring at Louise and then pronounced "You're a 14, right?" Louise nodded and the woman set off for the back of the store. A couple of minutes later, she'd returned with the dress but this one with a perfect powder blue chiffon pooling skirt. It was so much better than the one on display that it actually took her breath away. It had cost a small fortune, but it was worth going into credit card debt for.​
     
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  16. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There's quite a bit of missing information in order to come remotely close to a description that will serve.

    Who is the observing party?

    Is there a POV character serving as the reporting agent for this description, or is it just the 3rd omniscient narrator? If it's a POV character, then we need to know about relationships. Is this the first time the dress has been seen? Is it the millionth? Who is the observer to the person being observed? Parent? Child? Lover? Mother? Stranger? Admirer? Detractor? None of those people are going to give the same description as any of the others, be it through dialogue or through the narrative being filtered through that person's POV.​

    What is the context?

    This ombré dress (refers to the particular way the colors fade into one another) looks like something out of Lothlorien. If the character appears in Lothlorien (or some similar analogue), then this dress is likely so common, so basic, so workaday and quotidian as to beggar the reason for the description. But if this woman is presenting herself in this manner at a Publix, today, somewhere in Tallahassee Florida, that's a completely different context and a completely different reason for even wanting to describe. In a Tallahassee Publix supermarket, she'd likely be described into a cellphone conversation as, "Girl, some Lord of the Rings look'n crazy-ass bitch just walked up to the deli in a blue elf dress. Yeah, I just sent you a pic. 2020 crazy a.f."​

    Without knowing where, when, and to whom this dress is being presented within the narrative for subsequent description, no constructive answer can be given.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2020
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  17. Thundair

    Thundair Contributor Contributor

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    I had just finished a chapter where my warrior saw his bride-to-be dressed up for the first time. This is right out of a first draft, so things may change.

    Her ethereal image filled the doorway, which was back lit from the afternoon sun. Her light-blue cotton dress sparked highlights that bounced through the lace along the collar and sleeves. The conversation momentarily stopped as she stepped through.
     
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  18. Thundair

    Thundair Contributor Contributor

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    Edit another damn dbl post. I will have to shutdown this old computer I built from the junk yard.
     
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  19. alpacinoutd

    alpacinoutd Senior Member

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    Emily stood in the corner, resplendent in shades of flowing blue. Gareth was covetously staring at the curves of her body as it gracefully moved beneath the exquisite dress.

    But I think the thing that distinguishes that dress from your common blue evening dress is those leather straps which for some reason remind me of tree branches!
     
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  20. DriedPen

    DriedPen Member

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    I have to say that the amount of writing talent on this forum never ceases to amaze me. That is an incredibly hard dress to describe because it has so much too it; from the leather trimmed bodice, to it being semi-asymmetrical, to being long and flowing with sea-glass shimmering colors.

    Like Wryebies sated, there is not really enough information for a true description to be written for it, but in a way it is good that a full narrative is not given, so that the excepts cited end up being lessons in writing, and not things to copy and paste.

    I do not have much to add in the way of a description for that dress, but do stand in awe of many of you as writers.
     
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  21. Bluefire

    Bluefire Member

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    Thats an amazing description, I love how you described it as a waterfall!
     
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  22. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    Aw thank you :love: I'm currently querying and getting rejections so this really made me smile!! :friend:
     
  23. Storysmith

    Storysmith Senior Member

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    If the dress is important, does that mean that you need to make it clear that it has reappeared? If it is described in detail as a waterfall, then are you going to have a near identical description later and hope the reader realises that it's the same.

    Unless there was a need for further description, I'd go for something like "a severe yet elegant XXX dress in shades of blue", where XXX is the name of the designer. Then when I want to mention it again later, it can be the "blue XXX dress".
     
  24. Vanna Heller

    Vanna Heller Banned

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    Well, it fully depends on what you are looking for it to be described as...
    In my opinion, I would describe the details of the dress and the color, as well as how it looks on the person wearing it.

    She stood in the corner, not blending in with the crowd. Her dress blue like the ocean and how the closer you get to the shore the lighter it gets.

    That is all I have at the moment, but I get how it may sometimes seem like you are being too wordy... As long as you are not taking an entire paragraph to describe it, you should be okay. Like if it were to be a few sentences, that would be fine.
     

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