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Colouring your world - A workshop on description

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by Kit', Jul 13, 2003.

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  1. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 1999
    Colouring your World ? A workshop in description.


    I?ve been catching up on reading quite a few fanfics recently and something that I?ve consistently noticed is the descriptions (or lack there of) that the author gives the characters or surrounds. Many fics contain little or no physical descriptive, relying instead on feelings and dialogue. Other fanfics contain large chunks of pure descriptions about the area in which the characters are currently interacting.

    The purpose of this thread is two fold. The first is to talk about how much description should be used in a fic and when the description becomes too much, or too little. It?s also to talk about the relevancy of description in a scene as well as when and where it should be used.

    The second part is a challenge. The challenge is to describe an area in the Jedi temple: it could be a classroom, the room of a thousand waterfalls, the empty burnt remains after Vader destroys it, or the day of its first construction. It could also be the temple at Alderann or any other part of the Jedi life. As long as it is a Jedi temple, it doesn?t matter where or when chronologically the scene is set. The idea is to include minimal dialogue (none if possible) and instead focus on the description to tell the story.

    Feel free to give feedback and to post your own descriptive snippets. This is supposed to be about learning and bettering our writing.

    In the post below I?ve posted two examples to give people the rough idea. These are old posts of mine that I?ve changed to fit the task.
     
  2. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 1999
    Example one:

    An orange-eyed dizoke cleaned its whiskers, on the crumbling stone building. The small rodent didn?t notice the pools of light disappearing slowly and the hint of rain. It wasn?t until the first drops of water fell, did the large-eyed creature look around, twitch its whiskers, and dart away into the undergrowth. The rain grew heavier, forcing droplets between the tall canopies, the light grey stone turned darker and darker under the rain. A giant tree, grandfather to many of its counterparts, strove upwards to the sky. Over time, its branches had become hollow and rotten, their burden supported by the surrounding trees. Now with the added weight of water, one of the younger limbs snapped sending one giant branch to the ground. It crashed through the trees, ripping leaves and vines as it passed until it almost represented a giant green snowball. The branch smacked into the ground with a solid thump.

    Its passing had created a hole in the canopy sky, through which the rain ran freely, puddling into the corners of a coronet of flowers and streaming down a the rough folds of a cloak. The passing of the branch had pulled the natural cover from one of the human creations. She was half turned, facing away, as if in fear, her body crouched to run. One arm half torn, half broken from her shoulder carried a small baby. He was catching her, his face kind and gentle, his arms outstretched. This one had both his arms and a long round sword. A shining thing of gold, which stretched outwards, a symbol of power and. Her torn arm was an accident from long ago, but it symbolised the loss shown on her smooth grey face.

    Gradually the rain stopped and the pools of light formed again gradually. The hole in the canopy was clearer now, light streamed through it catching the gold of the outstretched sword, the grey light in her eyes, the blue of his. The light continued to stream catching and holding the two sad figures in a pillar of light. Two painted figures in a jungle of green and gold.

    ***********************


    Example two:

    The Jedi stood, his hands clasped in prayer, his head bowed as if the sorrow of his thought was too much for it. The spot where the girl had sat was only now beginning to cool under the onslaught of rain. Water dripped from his nose and edges of his wings, making little pools, which filled slowly until their walls burst sending streams of water down the edges of the rock. His face was sad, as if troubled by all he had witnessed. If he had been able to think, he would have told lovingly of little children marvelling at his creation from the seemingly violent blows of a chisel. If he had been able to remember he would have spoken of a thousand days just like this one, where children had sat and dreamed next to his legs, where women and men had laughed together, when he had been surrounded by huge lush gardens and open space and not shuttered in by endless grey walls. If he had been able to see he would have reminisced at the day when they opened the temple, at the applause at the crowds. Had he been able to feel he would have recalled the same feeling of wool against his legs and the whisper of hair against his legs as people sat at his feet, the feelings of half formed dreams just out of reach. Had he been a prophet with visions of the future he would have spoken about horror that was to come. Had he been able to speak he would have called out to the girl, waiting until she had turned before uttering one word.
    ?Be ware!?

    But he could not. He was a thing of stone, a human creation; bound by human ideals, by their thoughts, their behaviour. The half shuttered eyes let the rain wash over them, trickling down in rivulets through his hair and down until it reached his chin. His robes had not been painted like the others; they had been left the dull grey colour of the stone from which he had been created. But even the rain and his un-decorated robes could not hide the single solitary stone tear that had formed along his cheek. A symbol of things to come.
     
  3. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 9, 2000
    Good topic, good challenge, Kit! Give me a week or so; I'll have to think about this one...
     
  4. J_Girl

    J_Girl Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 18, 2001
    For now, I will just comment on the first part.

    Although I know it's horrible, I admit that as a reader, I tend to skip over any large amounts of description. By large amounts, I mean more than 5 sentences in one paragraph that solely describes a place. If a story is good, I want to read what happens next, and not a rambling set of sentences on the scent of flowers in a field or something like that. Unless that scent and those flowers are pivotal. Okay, that may be an extreme example, but it makes my point - I hope.

    I prefer to read descriptions that are scattered throughout a scene and relevant to what is happening at the time. I tend to remember the details better because they stand out when not surrounded by other sentences like it. If the writer lingers too long on an irrelevant description, I skip over it and most of the time, I don't feel I have missed anything.

    That all said, I do like description in general. Too little of it makes a fic feel empty as if it were just thrown together. If the author gives me the impression they could care less about the story as a whole, then why should I waste precious reading time on it?

    I suppose with anything, balance is what I think works best. Not that I myself achieve any balance in my own writing, that is. ;)


    Kit: I haven't read your examples yet because I wanted to get this written down before I forgot it. So, I will have to make a point to go back and read them.
    J_Girl
     
  5. lordmaul13

    lordmaul13 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Oct 18, 2000
    Interesting. I'll watch this topic. Might even participate. I felt like descriptions are something I needed to work on and have been paying closer attention to that in my writing lately. Hopefully I can pick up on some things here.

    As for your examples, I liked them both but the second was my favorite. The first was a description of rain. Sounds exciting hmmm? ;) And I noticed a few things in it.

    Its passing had created a hole in the canopy sky, through which the rain ran freely, puddling into the corners of a coronet of flowers and streaming down a the rough folds of a cloak.

    I couldn't figure out what that meant. Could just be I'm tired.

    Gradually the rain stopped and the pools of light formed again gradually.

    That was a little repetitive.

    There was one more thing I noticed but I'm darned if I can find it again. Oh well.

    Example 2 I really liked. Oh, if walls could talk... People probably wouldn't do so many embarassing things because Big Brother is watching. The the walls would start spreading all these stories about us. It's terrible! What a monster we've unleashed! Who invented talking walls anyway? Oh wait, that's right, walls can't talk...

    lordmaul13
     
  6. obi_ew

    obi_ew Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 14, 2002
    * meekly raises hand * I'm another one who is wonderful at dialogue, but weak when it comes to descriptions, particularly of the surroundings. I do however agree with J_Girl in that, if a story has an excessive amount of detail I tend to skip over it and get to the good parts. I'll keep checking back here, hopefully I can learn how to improve. :)
     
  7. Darth_Leia_6669

    Darth_Leia_6669 Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 26, 2003
    I've always thought descriptions are one of my weak areas. I tend not to go into much description unless it's something relevent to the story. An example would be I wouldn't describe a room that a character is in unless they are studying it for some reason. I do try to be more descriptive as far as basic movements, facial expressions, ect, and feel that I've improved on those areas, but large descriptions turn me off. Some books I've read went into such descriptive detail on something not important to the story, that I've skipped whole pages just to get back to the story. And didn't miss a thing!

    But I'll definatly be back for help.

    ps-Are there any threads to help with dialogue? If not, any chance someone could start one? Dialogue is another weakness of mine.

    --later--
     
  8. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 1999
    I was thinking of having a new workshop every two weeks or so. This one is on description, but the next can be on dialogue, the next grammar (or something like that).

    Does that sound good?

    Kithera

    P.S: Thanks for the feedback on my examples Lord Maul :) . I'm glad everyone so far thinks this is a good idea :)
     
  9. Darth_Leia_6669

    Darth_Leia_6669 Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 26, 2003
    That would work for me! Thanks for taking the time to do this!

    --later--
     
  10. Jane Jinn

    Jane Jinn Jedi Knight star 5

    Registered:
    Jan 12, 2000
    I guess I'm one of the writers who neglects descriptions in favour of action and dialogue. When reading, I'm also one of those people who tend to skip over long passages of description. I like the idea of scattering important bits of description into different paragraphs, so that the reader has an idea of the surroundings, but isn't overwhelmed by a huge block of details. My opinion is, if it's necessary for the story, then by all means describe it enough to convey that necessity, but if not, leave it to the reader's imagination.

    For the challenge, here's a little paragraph from a story that I'm working on. I went back and added some extra detail in order to have enough to post; it was originally just a sentence or two.

    "Kit" is not our dear mod, but the Nautolan Jedi Kit Fisto. :)

    ****

    One of Kit?s favourite places to meditate was a particular garden in the Temple designed specifically for amphibian species like his own. He moved slowly down the narrow path that was forever in danger of being overgrown by the thick jungle of plants, happily inhaling the mist that obscured the distance. The air was thick and pleasantly warm, rich with green and flowering scents. A subtle change in the composition of the odour told him he was getting close to the edge of the lake, and a moment later, he came upon the grove of trees that stood in the shallow water there. With the way their roots grew first slightly up and away from the trunks, then spread outward and downward, the trees looked like tall creatures with a myriad of legs, poised as though to spring out of the water at any moment.
     
  11. dianethx

    dianethx Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Mar 1, 2002
    I plead guilty. I love writing and reading description. I often tell my readers that I consider the environment in which my characters interact to be another character. I also use description as a way of creating a mood, a backdrop that will affect the characters in some way. And I usually imbed important information into the descriptions so they are not frivolously done.

    The question I always ask myself is whether the description will forward the story. Are you trying to create a mood, will some action take place here, or were you trying to get across the mindset of the character?

    However, I agree that too much detail can bog down a piece. In some cases, I will wade through the description and think - just get on with it. This is particularly true of character description. Let's face it...Obi-Wan is gorgeous but we really don't need to know that in infinite detail. If there has been a change in the character, then detail is fine...


    Kit, the imagery was lovely but I got confused in both pieces. In the first piece, it took a long time for me to realize that you were talking about a painting. You might have alerted the reader to that much earlier in the description. Plus, I kept wondering what happened to the animal...
    In the second piece, again it took a long time to realize that he was a statue. I did like the stone tear...

    In both pieces, were you trying to create a mood or impart some crucial piece of information? Or was it a backdrop for something else?

    Jane I liked this piece as well but then I like description. It reminded me a bit of LOTR with all that greenery and the tall trees. I assume right after this paragraph you were going to have some dialog....


    -------------------------------

    You asked for some place in the Temple. This is the Room of a Thousand Fountains....that information had come earlier in the fic....

    As he pushed the heavy doors wide, a overwhelming glare of harsh lights blinded him. Thrusting an arm upward to cover his now-tearing eyes, he noticed the artificial hum of mechanicals, the smell of rank fertilizer and grim taste of crushed greenery. He could not believe his eyes. Gone were the rivers, streams, swaying trees and flowers of every kind. Instead, row upon row, tiering upward, as far as the eye could see, were the plants and fruits of commerce. They had turned his beloved sanctuary into despised Bandomeer, into an agricultural factory. He stood there, stunned, swaying with disbelief. Scrubbing at his eyes to wash away the appalling vision, he looked again. Plants filled the entire space, orderly rows of vegetables, vines heavy with fruit hanging along the sides of the terraces as they mounted up towards the ceiling, exotic herbs swaying in the breeze. Every space conceivable was filled with the green of industry. Nowhere were the stone pathways, the swards of grass, the gentle grace of blooming flowers...nowhere.


    A second example - that I thought might have contained too much information - is this one. It's not in the Temple but it does show my love of description...

    The whispered murmur of falling water was a far-off lure that pulled both Jedi towards a small, quiet park tucked in one of the sidestreets. An overgrown hedge, massively black against the darkened sky, hid most of the grassy area from the lane. But there were also trees and a tiny bench hidden in the foliage. A stone fountain gleamed bone and ebony as liquid dribbled down the roughened wall. Away from prying eyes, it would have been perfect for relaxation, perfect for a kata or two, in the daylight. But at night, it was a black maw, inky walls and midnight-dark weeds.



     
  12. AlrikFassbauer

    AlrikFassbauer Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 2, 2003
    As I always say, the writer must substitute the reader's senses with words. I think this is a good description on how I look at the process of "colouring". ;)

    I could and would like to get into this challenge - it would be huge fun for me :D - but so far I'm simply lacking the abiltity to describe subtle sensing of the surroundings (SSS).

    I would only write in my native language, wherein I could show some things up, but that would be quite impossible for you to 0jodge, because not everybody knows the german langage.

    However, there are also bad examples for overusing descriptions - I have once read the novel "Shadowmoon" - based on the Willow theme by George Lucas, but actually written by Chris Claremont. In that novel I had the strong feeling that there was actually *very little* action, but most of the part of the book consisted on descriptions.

    There is a kind of balance you must keep in order to entertain the reader : Not too much descriptions, not too much action. The senses of the readers must be adressed, but also the tension of the story must be visible - I mean what is known as the "thrill".

    Horror-novels, and "Thrillers", for example are a very extreme example of adressing the reader's senses : The reader is affected in a way ... well that's horror. ;)


    I like to say about my self : I cannot draw with pen and paper, but with words only ...
     
  13. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 9, 2000
    I can only agree with what folks have pointed out. For some stories, description sets a mood, for others it's "give me the basics and cut to the chase."

    And I had to laugh, dianethx, at what you said: Let's face it...Obi-Wan is gorgeous but we really don't need to know that in infinite detail. My #2 main turn-off in JA stories is fourteen paragraphs of swoony description about Obi-Wan's eyes... "Mari Su gazed into his eyes, which were the clear blue of the sea on a perfect summer's day, or perhaps the blue-green of a shimmering lagoon fringed with palms, changing to stormy grey with tiny flecks of glittering fire dancing among the clouds..." Gak! :D

     
  14. Puggy

    Puggy Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Oct 1, 2002
    One of my best friends and I had a similar discussion once. We were irritated that some authors (not fanfic authors, mind you) chose to ramble for twenty some pages about the decor of a castle. We wondered why the author couldn't say, "They approached the castle."

    While I realize that "They approached the castle" is a bit lacking in the descriptions department, I also believe twenty some pages is a little too much. I'm often tempted--primarily in books assigned for school--to skim through such description, because I'm not usually interested in how many dew drops landed on some leaf earlier this morning.

    One thing about description, though, is that it's part of some authors' styles. Certain others love filling their stories with description, simply because that's the way they write. And attempting to change another author's style is one thing I've always been against, because, in my opinion, writing is something personal.

    I do like description now and then, and it's often necessary. For instance, an author can't just write, "They approached the castle" (nor can they go on for the next twenty pages, heh). I want to know something about where this castle is, what the castle looks like, and other things of such nature. I don't want a detailed account of each window pane, but I do want enough detail to form a mental image of some sort.

    I'm no great writer; I write because I enjoy doing so. But when I write, I attempt to put in enough description so as I don't feel as though I've left anyone without a mental image. Now and then, I'm sure I've gone off on a tangent in descriptions, and I'm sure I've done the opposite, as well.

    Nice discussion, Kit! I'd take you up on the challenge, but I'm afraid I've got no idea what a Jedi Temple would be like, hehe.
     
  15. LadyPadme

    LadyPadme Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 26, 2002

    I believe that description definitely has its place in writing, but I tend to feel that description should only be included if it is necessary to the scene or to the story. If the characters are in the jungle, I don't need to hear about every leaf and fern. But, if there's a stream or mountain or building nearby, and one or more of these features later becomes important to the story, i.e. the character needs to drink water from the stream or needs to scale the mountain or go into the building, then it's in the author's interest to describe the surroundings so that the reader has a reference point. Same with characters' appearances and clothing. If (especially with canon characters) there is something different, i.e. grew a beard, cut their hair, suddenly looked disheveled, then a description should be given. If the character is wearing something that is necessary to describe to help build a scene, then it should be mentioned. But, while I loved Padme's clothing in AotC, I think a novelization that went into explicit detail about what she was wearing each time the scene changed would have put me off completely.

    So, in a nutshell, I think description serves its purpose but it should be used only to enhance the story, not all the time.

     
  16. CYNICAL21

    CYNICAL21 Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 2001
    I think I'm definitely in the WRONG place! :D

    CYN
     
  17. PadmeLeiaJaina

    PadmeLeiaJaina Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Registered:
    May 23, 2002
    I love description. Description is what breathes life into stories. Dialogue is great, and is generally, pretty easy to write. Writing effective description is a lot harder to learn how to craft. However, the more description you layer into your writing, the richer, fuller, and more interesting your story becomes to read.

    Like others have said, description should be used in moderation. If you overuse it, you run the risk of boring your readers to death. Generally, I don't bother with minute details, unless I am describing a particular object. Things that are commonplace, like ferns, trees, etc, people can immediately recognize what they look like in their minds, and you don't need to explain every frond that sprouts from the fern.

    My general rule of thumb w/ description is that you should use it to paint surroundings of your action. Sprinkle description along with what's going on in the scenes. As your characters move along, describe what they are passing by, how they look, what they are doing, how they are affecting the environment around them.

    For great descriptions, you need to remember to use the 5 senses: sight, touch, taste, smell, and sound. You don't have to always use all 5 senses, but the more you utilize, the richer that the description appears.

    Sight- is generally the easiest- you can describe exactly what you see in your head by painting a picture through words with what you want your readers to see.

    Touch/Feel- can be either describing exactly how an item feels when the person touches it- prickly, soft, cool, blazing hot... or it can describe the atmosphere- muggy, dusty, arid, tension-filled, etc.

    Taste- is probably the hardest to describe- but it can be easy if you describe the food or drink by the sensations your tongue experiences, spicy, sweet, bitter...is the item chewy, icy, or soft? Does the food's taste evoke an emotional response for the character?

    Smell - is also elusive, but your choices of adjectives can help to enhance the mood arround you. Is the room dusty, and stale smelling? The pungent, mechanical smell of engine grease permeated the hanger. What do the smells do? Do they cause an emotional response from the character? Does the scent of cooking food cause the character's stomach to grumble? Does it churn up buried memories?

    Sound - is probably one of the easier things to fill in as added, extra description. Are the high-pitched cries of native birds filling the jungle? Does the Krayt Dragon's roar rumble, causing the ground to shudder? Do the engines roaring to life deafen out all conversation in the hanger?

    You don't need to use all 5 senses all of the time, I find that if you try to do that, you end up losing the mood and it appears that you are trying too hard. I usually juggle and use a few of the senses each time that I am describing a setting or a scene.

    Here's an example that I pulled from my novel DE which uses all of the senses:


    Marxx Racees glided though the dense forested floor on Yavin 4. His heart beat steady as he raced through the brush. He inhaled the wonderful earthy scented mixture of pine and composting leaves as his feet trod over the soft soil. Effortlessly jumping over fallen trees, leaping up and grabbing vines, he flew deeper into the never-ending undergrowth on the green moon. Nothing bothered him as he ran. His mind clear and focused- he was one with the Force. He darted past a gorseed tree and spotted his destination ahead.

    The eighty-foot tall pallanberry tree beckoned him. The luscious fruit that grows only in the top most branches had now ripened and was ready to be picked. Barely breathing after his fifteen mile run, Marxx wiped a hand over his bare head removing the excess sweat. Upon arriving on Yavin, Marxx found his worst enemy not to be the poisonous lumernier snakes, endless mosquitoes, Yavinese Lions, or Frayt lizards, but the humidity. Growing up on an arid desert planet, it took him nearly a month to acclimate to the muggy air on the moon. Marxx examined s
     
  18. Sebulba2179

    Sebulba2179 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 5, 2002
    Hmm - this certainly is a good topic! As much as I love descriptions, I don't really get into them very much, unless of course I'm writing a pod race. ;) In those, I can go into much detail about what the racers are doing, the maneuvers they're making or will have to make, their surroundings on the racetrack, etc. Outside of that, though, I've tried to practise going into more thorough descriptions of a character's surroundings or thoughts, but for me it's not easy to strike an even balance. Too many are the fics that describe one simple action in five simple words, without giving the readers a clear picture of what's going on. If Leia and Mara suddenly find themselves in a mysterious forest surrounded by Ents, elves, orcs, hobbits, Nazgul, Balrogs, and things that go bump in the night, I'd like very much to know how they got there.

    And then there are the fics that seem to be flowing smoothly, with good pacing and clarity, until the author suddenly stops narrating and starts going into excruciating detail about the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees (and often a thing called love ;)). Do you really want to read about Luke and Han hotly pursuing hostile forces across a grassy plain, only to watch them run off into the sunset while the author stops to describe the waving grass and the wind blowing the dandelion petals around?

    I think this would be a good place for all authors to post passages if they've had such issues with description. Here they can get comments and advice on how to increase or decrease - I'll probably be posting some non-podrace scenes here myself. ;)
     
  19. Jane Jinn

    Jane Jinn Jedi Knight star 5

    Registered:
    Jan 12, 2000
    Kit', your descriptions were lovely and yet I'm also confused, at least about the first passage. Were the figures part of a painting, or were they statues?

    She was half turned, facing away, as if in fear, her body crouched to run. One arm half torn, half broken from her shoulder carried a small baby. He was catching her, his face kind and gentle, his arms outstretched. These two sentences sounded like it was the baby who was catching her. I had to read it several times before I could finally decide that it was an adult male instead.

    And I'm wondering what part of the Temple these statues are in? In the first passage, you describe an animal and a crumbling stone building -- I have trouble believing that the Jedi would neglect the upkeep of their gardens like this, and yet if the Temple had been destroyed, I'm fairly sure that these statues would have been destroyed along with it. An interesting mystery!

    The second passage sounds like a good way to set the mood for a Jedi Purge story! Very nicely done, especially the part about the stone tear. I wonder who "the girl" was, and why she needed to beware.

    dianethx Thanks for liking it. I never thought of LoTR -- actually, I was going for a more Dagobah-type feeling. I guess I didn't make it dark enough. Oh, well, it doesn't matter. No, actually, there's no dialogue coming directly after this paragraph, just a description of the being that Kit finds sitting on his favourite tree root. Perhaps I should have included that, but I guess I thought we were concentrating on settings for this challenge, not people.

    I think that descriptive passage of the Room of a Thousand Fountains was perfect! Such a contrast, the way it was described simultaneously as how it was at that moment, and how it used to be. Powerful!

    The other passage is one from the story where I remember thinking that it was a metaphor for the 'bigger picture'. Here, too, the description was powerful, and yet just enough as was needed, and no more. :)

    PadmeLeiaJaina, what a good idea to list all the senses. I know I tend to forget most of them because I'm a very visual person myself, and simply concentrate on what can be seen.

    Very nice excerpt! I especially loved the part where Marxx was inhaling the heavy, fruity scent of the pallanberry, and the way he was reminded of Jaina's shampoo. I also liked the way he really suffered from the humidity, having grown up on Tatooine, and finally could do nothing else but shave his head.

    I didn't see many examples of sound used here, though; just the way his feet trod over the soft soil, and I'm not even sure that was one. It could have been more 'touch/feel'. Nonetheless, the passage was very rich in the other senses. It also had enough action in it that it flowed along as nimbly as Marxx himself, and wasn't bogged down by long, boring chunks of description.
     
  20. PadmeLeiaJaina

    PadmeLeiaJaina Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Registered:
    May 23, 2002
    Jane-Jinn

    Hee hee- good eye on the lack of sound. I think I described birds crying in the next paragraph and just forgot that I didn't include it ;) Thanks for the lovely breakdown of the paragraphs, I thought they came out very well :)
     
  21. Baron_Fel

    Baron_Fel Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 28, 2001
    I kinda like reading descriptions, they set the scene, they give me a mental picture of where the characters are.

    One problem I have is deciding whether I should put more description or less when I write. This sometimes holds up posting some parts of my story as I have to look at the descriptions to see if there is an over abundance.
     
  22. Wedge_Antilles_Cmdr

    Wedge_Antilles_Cmdr Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    May 22, 2002
    [color=006699]Hey Kit,

    I just stumbled across this today and I think it is wonderful idea - thought I have very little trouble with description, I do have problems with dialogue on occasion. I will post something descriptive that I have already written but as I do not deal with Jedi characters (pilots are my specialty) can I substitute the description of something else?

    Wedge :>o<:
    Cross into the Blue[/color]
     
  23. CYNICAL21

    CYNICAL21 Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 2001
    I have been categorized - very accurately - as being wordy - long-winded - and much too fond of the sound of my own voice - all of which is absolutely true. I have no defence to offer. But my style is my style - and I won't apologize for it.

    I use description as part of the narrative of my story; my goal is to paint a vibrant, living vision - and have my characters interact with it. Thus, I present this excerpt for your examination - and you will note immediately that description is interspersed with character action; in my work, the two are often interwoven to such a degree that they're almost inseparable.

    This scene is from A Lingering Frost - which is the sequel to my own SW version of War and Peace. I don't offer it here so much for the narrative, as for the blending of story and setting.

    Your comments are welcome - and it IS a scene set in one of the Temple gardens, so it meets Kit's criteria:

    . . . . . . . . . .

    It's a place sometimes beloved of older padawans - for it's rich and textured with Force energy, and - as I was once told - sometimes it sings - to those sufficiently motivated to listen.

    Blindly, I push my way through a thick coniferous hedge - and am almost overwhelmed as I'm once more impaled on a shard of memory.

    It's a small clearing, with a trickle of water falling from stone to stone in a miniature cascade that provides a rhythmic cadence for the whisper of the night wind. Off to my left, there's a rough-surfaced stone wall, cracked and abraded and threaded with tunnels, and draped with lush vines of glossy, succulent foliage. Surrounding the clearing is a stand of the short, stubby, multi-trunked marillion trees that once grew wild on Coruscant - when Coruscant was still a planet where living things occurred naturally. Now, of course, the vigorous trees, with their strong, stocky branches, grow only in enclaves and gardens like this one. They occur naturally no more - no where.

    I peer into the deep shadows where the fanwork of branches joins the barkless trunk - and see the flash of eyes, quickly concealed.

    Oh, yes - I know this place, all too well.

    The jelly-coats live here.

    Once, there were seven of them; now, I sense only two - and I am saddened to realize that soon, there will be none.

    They are the last of their kind - and I am reminded of a remark once made - by someone - that the task of preserving the final members of a species is not a happy one.

    Jelly-coats. So called because - he couldn't say j'helia cohoxts. He was, after all, only four years old at the time.

    I try to turn away from the vision forming before me; I try not to see it - but it forms anyway. Memory is no respecter, it seems, of the will of a Jedi Master.

    The j'helia cohoxts are a feline species - native to the third moon of Surundi Prime - a volcanic planetoid that destroyed itself in violent tectonic upheavals some forty cycles ago. The tiny creatures - small enough when mature for four of them to fit comfortably in my hand - were spared the fate of others of their kind by virtue of the fact that they happened to be exploring the hold of the last evac ship to leave the surface, prior to the final devastating quake that exposed the moon's core - and reduced it to rubble. The spacers who later discovered the badly frightened felines concluded that Fate must surely have taken a hand in preserving the small lives - and who were they to argue with Fate?

    The Jedi had been happy to accept responsibility for preserving the species - a responsibility that, ultimately, would prove to be impossible to live up to. The j'helia cohoxts rescued from the evac ship - seven of them - all proved to be sterile - a factor, thought Jedi biologists, resulting from the destruction of the eco-system that had spawned them.

    So it was no less than perfect truth to proclaim them the last of their kind.

    For such small creatures, they are remarkably long-lived - but nothing lives forever, and I sense now that the time draws near.

    They will not approach me, of
     
  24. dianethx

    dianethx Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Mar 1, 2002
    Jane - Thanks for your comments. I remember a little vignette you did in the Laboratory thread with the ants that had lots of rivetting description and yet flowed so beautifully. I believe that you used all of the senses in that one - I still remember it well!

    PadmeLeiaSolo I agree that you should try and use all of the senses if possible. I am very careful to use at least 2-3 senses when writing long descriptions (usually sight, hearing and smell).

    Actually CYNICAL, I was glad that you came back. When you said that you were in the wrong place, I had to laugh because you were in the right place - where we can discuss description - which I know you love.

    As for your excerpt, I remember it. I thought it was absolutely lovely - not too detailed, not too sparse but just right. However, you did intersperse conversation with the description sections which tends to give the eye a rest (all that description tends to merge together if the paragraphs are too long or maybe it's just my old eyes).

    I think that is my biggest complaint with fiction in general- that people will go on and on, paragraph after long paragraph of description with no breaks in between. It's tiring to read and I begin to skip it, the words blurring...

    Actually, one of my favorite pieces of description is from the book Traitor by Matthew Stover. His whole first chapter was really about the description of pain in all its infinite colors - superbly done. But, even though it was almost entirely description, he broke it up into small paragraphs that flowed beautifully - and didn't tire the eye or the mind. It still mezmerizes and chills me at the same time....

     
  25. Midnight_Jedi

    Midnight_Jedi Jedi Youngling star 1

    Registered:
    Jan 11, 2003
    I think that description is key to an story, you have to feel for the characters, you have to see through their eyes. But some authors, don't leave anything to the imagination. I have to agree with J_Girl's rule of thumb: No more the five sentences per paragraph. It gives you enough description without boring the heck out of readers. Though, I believe that this rule can be stretched. If it is a very emotional, heartfelt post/chapter then going over five sentences is okay. As long as it is intriguing to the reader, as weel as adds and continues the story. Such as in my story, Fire Lights I use a lot of emotional description in the first few posts because the story begins by focusing on Tenel Ka's deep grief and the torment it is causing her. Then later on, it goes more to action, and dialouge then thought and feeling. So, if you do have a lot of emotional and landscape description in one post/chapter, try to even it out in the next
     
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