Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Add Description Here

Musical Influence(s) this week:  Ephemeral by Gemiinii Riisiing



Wow. Long time no blog pirates. Thanks to the new line-up I've enjoyed a nice long break from over thinking.


Since I've not been blogging, I've been writing. Somewhat. I struggle from week to week on which story to work on. My adventure/suspense heroine, Kiki and her “hero” Dex have been quite talkative lately. So has the heroine's BFF, Tory. So I've been working on that story. While in the midst of writing, I started to think about how my writing processes have changed since I started writing 5 years ago.


I've always just winged it. If I didn't know something, I did research right then and there on the spot to incorporate it into what I was working on. If I didn't know the proper terminology, I made it up. If I was unsure on a characterization portrayal, I worked with what I could do and edited it later. I've always written from chapter to chapter. Edited from chapter to chapter. Writing continuously feels...




But I also feel like I've lost my enthusiasm and spirit for writing. Don't get me wrong. There are days I stand on top of my desk with my fist clenched in the air swearing I will writing until my fingers fall off. But I get caught up in all these rules floating around in my head when I sit down. The rules beat down my spirit and my lackluster attempts to sparkle fall short. So I decided I'd do something I never do. Reread some of my old writing to recapture the feeling I had in the beginning when writing was still shiny and new. Let me tell you, it was quite the eye-opener.


While I've always known my beginning attempts at writing fiction were a bit jumbled and plagued with mistakes, even reading just a couple of paragraphs made the writer I am now sad. I'm a different person now. I'm a different writer. What I really mourn is my ability to write descriptions. Write the scene detail by detail until you feel like you're standing in the middle of it all. I miss that. I need to recapture that. So I want to do an exercise today. Take one of the pictures below and describe it to me as if I'm unable to see it. Write a short paragraph about it. 












































I've been doing this on my own and it's helped me get some of the missing link back into my writing. Good description is work, but it's good work and it gives our readers a sense of belonging in the story. (Or at least for me, as the reader, it does.)


And if you don't want to describe the picture, tell us what's changed about your writing style since you got started- the good and bad. Good luck everyone! And have some fun.


2nd Chance said...

It will take time to write the description, but I'll get to it... As for how my writing has changed?

Where once the story poured through me without pause or doubt, like a great river...there is doubt present now. Or maybe it isn't doubt, but a mellower pace so I can do more sightseeing and take time to reflect. I don't ride a speeding ribbon of white water anymore. Instead I dive deeper, and that takes more planning.

But I don't really regret, I'm seeing much more than I used to. And what's fun is that the stuff I wrote earlier is still interesting. I can tell a story and that was a fun thing to recall!

Now to put some time aside to work on a synopsis for a new submission to my agent and...work on your assignment.

Marnee said...

Oooh... description. Description can be my kryptonite, particularly at first draft, where I am currently hovering with this WIP.

SO, let me give this a go.

I won't even tell you which one I chose and see if you can guess.

They closed Main street that night, to prepare for the crowds. The street car wouldn't run either so the people arrived on foot. The recent rain slicked the black top, though, making it difficult to walk, especially for the ladies in heels or the gentlemen who chose fussy slick soles. The local shops were lit, their warmth shining from within, and white strands of lights outlined the buildings. But despite the preponderance of light, the attendees gathered in clumps on the pavement. Stragglers joined the groups, hurrying along, as if to escape of the darkness lurking in the corners where illumination couldn't reach.

As to what's changed about my writing--what hasn't changed? LOL! I think the more a person writes, the better they get. Studying craft can help but in the end, it's a learn by doing and trial and error sort of thing.

Donna said...

Good to see you back, Sin. And nice description, Marn.

I will have to defer that, since I'm leaving for work soon, and description is something that takes me longer to accomplish. I usually have to go back and add in the details when I'm editing/revising.

I agree that writing is one of those on-the-job training situations, which is great, because imagine how horrible it would be if we weren't allowed to tell our stories until we knew everything about writing it down?

Unfortunately, it's kind of like learning about wine. The more you know about the topic, the more you realize just how vast it is, and how you could spend your life trying to learn it all. :)

Whatever you need to do to hold onto the joy, do it. Let the writing rules aid you in that, not steal it away from you.

Janga said...

Hey, Sin! I'm glad to see you on board again.

Very evocative, Marn. You leave me wondering about the darkness.

I hope I am a better writer than I was five years ago. I certainly know more about the craft of fiction. I do think I learn not just from all I write but also from all I read. The downside is that I've lost the joy that may be possible only for the unlearned, the innocent.

I love writing description. I too have to be stern with myself or I'd overdo it. Here's my response to your challenge, Sin:

Morning. The sky blushed at the sun’s waking kiss, and the water lazily rippled toward the opposite shore where a line of trees, dark against the horizon, stood sentry. The empty dock, the anchored boats, the silence broken only by birdsong—all played their parts in the serenity the scene held like a gift, unwrapped but yet to be fully enjoyed. Too bad it was all a lie. Just beyond the guardian trees, an army of machines waited, poised to strike and destroy. Brody sipped his coffee, black and bitter, and braced himself for the coming storm.

Marnee said...

Very evocative, Marn. You leave me wondering about the darkness.

:) Thanks Janga. Great description too! And thanks Donna too.

Sin said...

Awesome descriptions guys!

Chanceroo, I like that. It's not doubt. And I can't imagine you mellow. Reflective, maybe. I think maybe that's what it is for me too. Reflection into what I'm writing. Before I wasn't putting much thought into what went on the page. Just that there were words there. Description seemed to flow through my fingers. Now, it seems like description is the part I'm filling in as I go back over it.

For me what's changed is dialogue. I'm still struggling with it but it doesn't feel as disjointed and awkward. I still adore characters that are more action than words. I probably will always enjoy them but I need to learn how to communicate through my characters.

Sin said...

Also, thanks for the welcome back. It's been a busy summer. I'm trying to rediscover my love for writing once more. It's extremely difficult to write when you've lost it and I think I've stressed myself out over not being able to focus. No more delusional thinking. I'm just going to write what I want.

Bosun said...

It's like a conspiracy this week. Description is like pulling teeth for me, and we had this same assignment for the ecourse I'm taking. Well, there were no pictures, so at least you gave me that.

The point of the ecourse exercise was to write description from our character's POV and using that paragraph to reveal something about the character. Which makes the description more personal. Every character, just as every person, will notice something different in the same setting.

Let me go back through the pictures and see what I can come up with. And to show the difference between myself and Janga, where she saw a sunrise, I saw a sunset.


Sin said...

I love writing description. I too have to be stern with myself or I’d overdo it.

Janga, I've always loved to write description too. Though, I'll find myself going on about a room or a scene for five pages before I realize I completely forgot the reason my characters where there in the first place. lol

Sin said...

...imagine how horrible it would be if we weren’t allowed to tell our stories until we knew everything about writing it down?

Yeah, that would suck. Simply because I hate rules and it seems like writing rules are always evolving. I understand most writing rules are in place because they are needed, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

Jenny Brown said...

The most important thing I've learned over the past couple years during which I've been writing full time is that revising right after I've written something is a surefire way to ruin it.

Something about fiddling around with sentences--which always seems like a good idea at the time--drains the life out of the prose and ruins the flow.

It's gotten to where I now print my work and revise on paper. I only type in the changes a day or so later. You would not believe how many times I end up ditching the changes because on reflection they weaken the prose.

So I'm coming to trust that initial flow when the words just tumble out. When I do finally put in my revisions, I do it with changes set to visible in Word, and I go back a few days later and eyeball each one.

I still end up doing a lot of editing. But I do it more consciously and separately from the actual writing--later on in the project when I have a better feel for the whole work.


Bosun said...

No rules! Just guidelines. I've finally reached the point where the rules don't pester me anymore. Let me tell you, that's a relief.

Okay, I came up with something. Like Marn, I'm going to let you guess which picture I chose. (BTW-Marn, great job. I knew immediately.)

So much green. Beth hadn’t seen this much green since her last visit. When she buried her grandmother and said goodbye to her last living relative. She’d returned to the gray of city life believing charging on would get her through. Now she wished she’d sought solace here, where the flowers levitated in their pots, spreading their leaves in all directions. The trees swayed in the distance and an abundance of dark green determined plants reached for the sky. Even the porch columns gave her a sense of strength, as if they would always be there, ready to prop up her crumbling world and keep her safe. Keep her from harm. Keep her from heartbreak.

If only she could build these soldier columns around her heart. Maybe then it wouldn’t be sitting in her chest in a million little pieces.

Sin said...

Ter, the last pic is my favorite. I think you captured it perfectly. Even though my grandparents porch looked nothing like that, in my mind it gets imagined that way.

Sin said...

Jenny, I like to revise on paper as well. I seem to grasp the feel and flow of the story better. Don't know why. But my editing handicap is a hold over from writing fan fiction. Write a chapter, post a chapter. I can totally understand how that kills the overall story flow. When I try to do that now it kills my concentration.

But of course, I've really not been writing much lately so I guess the only person to blame for that is myself.

Bosun said...

I should probably embrace Jenny's "on paper" policy. I often think I do more harm than good when I start revising.

Sin, at first I thought that was a gazebo, but then I realized it could be a porch. My dream porch. *sigh*

Sin said...

I have dreams of having a wrap around porch someday. Maybe at my Tybee Island beach house.

Bosun said...

The cool thing is, you can tell it's circular. And I'm with you on the wrap around porch, except mine will be on my villa outside Tuscany.

2nd Chance said...

Mine will be on a bluff overlooking the Pacific...and the winter house will have a view of the Caribbean...

I'm working on the description!

Bosun said...

You already live on a bluff overlooking the Pacific. Goober.

2nd Chance said...

No, I live on a bluff overlooking a gulley that runs into the Pacific. I got a bluff between me and the Pacific!

Bosun said...

Right. You're life is so hard.

*walks away dripping sarcasm*

2nd Chance said...

Hey! I gots ta walk a whole 1/2 mile to get to that view! ;-)

P. Kirby said...

I just wanted to say that the descriptions so far are awesome. What's great is that you all put your character, his/her perceptions in the description. I know. You folks know enough to do this.

But I read loads of stories and novel excerpts over at Critters. And it's like a compendium of what not to do in writing. One thing that comes up constantly is the detailed description of the scene that is totally absent any characterization. I.e., the writer pretty much dumps the character(s) off to the side so that he can describe the scenery. It ends up reading like a tour guide. (This goes on in some publish works, especially epic fantasy, which is probably why I don't read epic fantasy that much anymore.)

I admit. I don't have a lot of patience for detailed description anyway. But it really gets old if it does nothing more than show that, "Lookee, I have a great imagination; I can picture stuff in my head; aren't I an awesome writer?"

Anyway, these descriptions are great!

Sin said...

Pat, overly obnoxious detailed descriptions irk me as well. I've always been one of those commercial people. Thirty seconds of one thing and then we've got to move on. Otherwise, I get bored.

Short attention span. A puppy with too many toys. However you want to describe it. That's me.

2nd Chance said...

She shivered as the mist danced across the back on her neck. It felt so good after the heat of the night before. Her eyes wandered across the lush landscape, the rich smell of greenery added to the sense of decadence her mentor radiated. Every part of his estate spoke of old money. She let her heavy hair drop and ran a hand down the pillar holding up the second story, gathering the cool condensation and painting it across the swell of her breasts. She could get used to this!

Sin said...

Excellent Chanceroo!

2nd Chance said...

Thanks, Sin. I logged in and fixed the glitchy part... ;-)

Janga said...

Am I the only one that is itching to revise? My opening metaphor makes me cringe. And it's much too artsy and femine for a male character's perception of scene.

Sin said...

I cringe every time I open my documents. I ALWAYS want to revise. That's what keeps me from going forward. I have to read what I last wrote to move forward, but then I always want to revise what I just wrote.

Bosun said...

This was for FUN, Janga. LOL! It's lovely. And you used the word "sentry" in the first sentence. That's very masculine. You're fine. Now forget this bit and finish the book already. I'm dying to read this hero!

Hellion said...

I have nothing. I've thought yesterday; I thought today...I have NO-THING. But as Terri said, we're taking that class, and apparently it's a description class, since I suppose that is how we would show our readers characters' motivations and background. But I'm not doing well in that class either. Terri's the teacher's pet in that class. I'm more like Ron. "How long does it have to be? Hermione, can you fix mine?"

Harry Potter. Harry Potter. Harry Potter. Harry Potter.

2nd Chance said...

Harry who?

*running away now!