|Reviews for Description: The hows, whens, and whys
| WritingClockwork chapter 1 . 4/13/2013
Thanks, this was really helpful.
| Guest chapter 1 . 8/2/2012
Very helpful...Thank You.
| Allison chapter 2 . 5/1/2011
I have no comment but -LOL. XD j/k dude this is AWESOME! all your advice is wonderful, thank you so much for writing this. keep it up!
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| Brenda Agaro chapter 2 . 7/3/2009
Again, a very helpful guide. I agree with you about description and I'll use your advice. :D
| Midnight Adrenaline chapter 2 . 4/7/2009
I've had fun with Free Rice :) Helps that I also speak fluent French, semi-fluent Dutch and am learning Spanish. My 9-year-old brother is shockingly good for his age. (He gave answers over my mom's shoulder.)
| TuneOut chapter 1 . 1/2/2009
Oh wow. This was a great essay since you explained a lot but you didn't allow it to get boring. Reading the 'when to describe' part, that might explain why the story I'm writing now isn't holding as much readers as I would like since I open up with a description of the main male.
Great essay. Btw, I found you through Written's community about writing.
| makemebreakme555 chapter 2 . 12/29/2008
thx for the advice
| Plej chapter 1 . 11/22/2008
Hahahahe! That was hilarious. This one I'm favoriting, much good advice. Muchos Gracias!
| Sarimbe chapter 2 . 9/8/2008
I never knew about the 'to be' rule, and have recently been wondering what made some of my descriptions so crude and boring - so this was very helpful. Also, level 42.
| Written chapter 2 . 9/2/2008
My friend who is accompanying me on my sick day looked over my last review and told me I need to stay of fp when I'm on the drugs. I will keep this short and sweet: I got to level 44! And then usually failed down to 41 or something before I got back up.
| Written chapter 1 . 9/2/2008
PERSONAL CLICHES. Okay, so I probably have them, but I don't notice them much. But what I do WAY TOO MUCH (other than hitting caps lock) is sticking in the word "suddenly" where it doesn't belong.
"I suddenly walked to the bathroom"
"Suddenly, I was confused when..."
I tend to search for the word and delete it, but it generally pops up anyway when I make last minute edits. SO ANNOYING.
I think you're doomed to hear about my many failures as a writer. sorry.
I was thinking about description the other day. I think I was reading one of the essays that someone wrote on fictionpress, and it might have been you but I'm not sure but ANYWAYS. basically it was talking about how you shouldn't just say "he said angrily" or whatever, but instead you should skip the angrily and put in other context clues that he's angry. or have the dialog speak for itself.
I know this doesn't sound like anything new. You tell me that all the time, and I tell others the same thing when I edit. I mean, show, don't tell and all that, of course. and I know I use "ly" words too much and I've read all about not (over) using said bookisms. but for some reason, the other day, it all sort of made sense. I realized what I wasn't doing and what I was doing and that my writing just wasn't very... uh. good? that sounds harsher than I mean it but yeah.
and even though I know all that, it just doesn't really improve. SIGH. I guess I'll just have to keep working on it. I mean, technically, I am better now than I was 5 years ago.
If it's not incredibly obvious, i'm on STRONG pain meds right now. I apologize for the shitty reviews I'm giving. I sort of tried to keep typos to a minimum? please don't curb stomp me.
here's what I love about you: [Short sentences represent action. They also represent distraction. Long, ponderous sentences represent leisurely studies of the object being described.]
| Ergot Dancer chapter 2 . 7/2/2008
I think all three of your example sentences have their flaws, but there is no reason why they can't be used if the tone/narrative/anything requires it. As usual. I think the first example is the best, though. It has a certain laconic charm.
When it comes to style I don't see that there is any inherent problem with 'purple prose' (although I do dislike stories that are little more than a regurgitation of someone's thesaurus). For one thing, the term purple is fundamentally subjective in application. There is also the matter of the intent of the writer. Who are we writing for, and why are we writing? Personally, I do not care very much for writing stories, I simply enjoy the process of arranging letters in an order that I happen to find pleasing, and I suppose that tends to be how I approach reading, too.
For most people, (if you'll excuse the slightly patronising tone) your advice is probably broadly correct, but I can't help but feel that any rule or guideline can never be absolute, and in fact is so contextually bound and correspondingly general, that it becomes difficult to really agree with anything other than the vague principal of 'write what you like as long as you write it well'. But that's not really all that helpful I suppose.
Just an opinion, of course.
| Ergot Dancer chapter 1 . 6/20/2008
OK, I'll leave a review on my way out.
"Firstly, I would like to say that I will not write your book for you." - Words cannot express my profound disappointment.
"Thirdly, yes, I do know that ‘Firstly’, ‘Secondly’ and ‘Thirdly’ are not real words." - Do you? I don't.
"I saw a guy. I really liked him. I followed him around all day. He told me to go away. I did." - I would contend that this sentence is actually very descriptive. It says a lot about the narrator. And the style can be effective when used appropriately. Like practically anything writing-related, really.
"It’s always a good idea to describe your character as soon as he (default male) is introduced" - Do you think so? I generally find it intensely irritating when people do that. Description should surely defer to necessity.
"Yes, the old man may be balding, but his loving daughter won’t see that. The business executive whose bumper he just rear-ended will." - This is a good point.
"than omnipotent third-person" - Don't you mean 'omniscient' third-person?
"if you tell it once from a POV other than the main character’s, tell it from a different POV at least one more time or the story will seem asymmetrical" - Shouldn't that simply be dependent on the requirements of the story (i.e. use as many POVs as you need) rather than some kind of weird aspiration to symmetry?
"These tie in closely with POV. Why? Because you should never, never, NEVER use a simile without a POV to use it from" - How can you not have a point of view? Even 3rd person is still a point of view. There is always a narrator. And anyway, why should a third person narrative not use similes? It would be useful if you could provide a little more explanation here.
"call someone’s hair a river, and it will flow over their shoulders in cataracts with swirls and eddies where the comb failed…" - Oh God.
"Two-for-one deals are fine when shopping, but not with similes" - Personally I think it's relative to the context.
"How does a person’s voice sound like a violin, anyway?" - If it's high-pitched, melodic, and has multiple strings that are played with a bow.
"If you find another word for ‘synonym’, call me or something." - OK. Like-word. There. Everyone loves kennings.
"So keep in mind: what’s important to you, what’s important to the POV character, what’s important to the reader, and what’s important about the person being described." - Too many writers neglect to take into account this very important point.
"Don’t have a medieval knight crying ‘Where’s the beef?’" - Wait... that's a cliché?
Also, if the narrator (or any other character) is the kind of person who talks or thinks or writes in clichés then it is presumably entirely appropriate to use them.
"or all your male readers will be superimposing their girlfriend (or something like that)" - To some extent we all do that anyway.
"To really be realistic, you could (I can’t believe I’m saying this) try an honest self-insertion for a minor character." - Gasp! Surely you're not implying that there is something inherently wrong with self-insertion?
So, basically, I liked this essay. It was interesting, entertainingly-written, and you made some good points. Oh, and I only just noticed how long ago this was written. I guess I'll probably review the second part some time soon.
And finally, on a not-altogether-unrelated note, I noticed that you are registered as a beta reader, so I'm wondering if you wouldn't mind beta-ing some of my writing.
Have a nice day or night.
| half-sketched.staccatos chapter 2 . 6/17/2008
I don't remember what level I've gotten to in Free Rice (somewhere in the thirties), but my biggest contribution at one time is ten thousand-something grains of rice. Yay. :)
Last year, my history teacher gave us this little tidbit of advice for our joint English-history term paper. Told us he might take off points. Everyone found reasons to complain about that ("He's a history teacher; he can't take off for English!"). I was just glad he taught it to me. :)