I have a question for a friend in prison who wants to write a book. He asked me to get him a BOOK that helps him describe locations. He knows he can ask me for help, but being in prison he cannot always talk to me and therefore, having an old-fashioned printed book will help him. Does anyone know of a book? I searched the internet but couldn't really find one.

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    Are you looking for descriptions of locations (like travel guides or something), or a book about techniques for descriptive writing? – Monica Cellio Dec 23 '13 at 21:05
  • @MonicaCellio: I think rather a "writer's handbook" than "travel guidebook" or the asker would narrow down: what kind of locations? I wish I could help but I'm all self-taught, but I applaud the sentiment: location descriptions are the most frequent Achilles heel of starting writers. The subject is not big enough to guarantee a whole book but I'm sure one could find a chapter in quite a few "writer advice" books. – SF. Dec 25 '13 at 4:47

Learning to describe starts with learning to observe. If he wants to learn to observe, start with Sherlock Holmes.

Once you start observing, then you practice putting your observations into words. Then it just takes practice writing.

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  • That's all hunky-dory if you already started on the right foot and want to expand your already half-decent description-writing skill. I've seen dozens of struggling newbies, who, despite having read dozens or hundreds of books (some with pretty good descriptions) themselves, are completely unable to even begin writing half-decent descriptions of locations. The best way out of this box is just to write anything involving descriptions, and have your work criticized by someone with a good grip of them, repeatedly, as you improve. But I imagine a book would work too. – SF. Dec 25 '13 at 4:57
  • @SF. Actually, the thrust of my answer was Holmes. You can't write something down if you haven't observed it. The point of Holmes is to show "this is what it means to observe. Yes, you walk up the steps every day... ever count them? Don't just look at the man's hands; does he have a callus? Which finger? What job or action would lead to that callus?" and so on. Maybe you just make a list of everything you really see about a person. Making the list pretty is practice (and feedback, as you note). – Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum Dec 26 '13 at 11:37

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