Questions tagged [description]

Painting a picture with a thousand words.

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8
votes
6answers
7k views

How to introduce a world that's alien to the reader

I'm writing sort of a space-opera and I was wondering what would the best way to explain everything about the world to my readers. The story is kind of a political intrigue, and it would be very easy ...
38
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8answers
3k views

When is it okay to “tell”, instead of “show”?

One of the major mantras of writing fiction is "show, don't tell". Is it ever okay to tell? When?
14
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3answers
589 views

How to create space

Recently, a few snippets of my fiction have received critiques along the lines of 'Does not give a sense of space'. Or 'needs more description, sights and sounds'. I think where I am going wrong is ...
8
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7answers
1k views

How specific should descriptions of settings/appearances be?

Some people tell me there are not enough descriptions in my book, some say there are too much. How do you know how much detail is enough? Is there like a rule of thumb for these things? Do I leave ...
22
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3answers
7k views

What's with all the hate on adjectives and adverbs?

Ok, I'm starting to get a feel for this, but I'm hoping someone can explain it more clearly for me. I learned in all my English classes that sensory imagery is important, which naturally involves a ...
19
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5answers
6k views

How much detail is too much?

I've read a few amateur stories online and sometimes the author will include so much detail that the reader gets a little bored or distracted and forgets what the actual story is talking about. How do ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

How to develop a more vivid and descriptive writing style

One of the problem areas that I face while writing my novel is that I often get stuck when writing descriptions. I do well when writing action sequences, when writing dialogues, when showing character ...
27
votes
11answers
3k views

What's Essential In A Combat Scene?

I've just been reading a bunch of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files books. Although they were the most enjoyable read I'd had in ages I always found myself skimming long segments that described involved ...
14
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8answers
3k views

What are the limits to description in story writing? How do I know if I have crossed them?

Time and time again, I have been told that my unfounded focus on description distracts from the main story line. I mostly write stories in English, which doesn't happen to be my first language but I'...
9
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4answers
2k views

What's the difference between purple prose and vividly descriptive writing?

Elements of Style describes purple prose as "hard to digest, generally unwholesome, and sometimes nauseating." In short, it's ornate, contrived and breaks the narrative. There's plenty of advice on ...
7
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2answers
182 views

Any helpful tips on how to, better use description in my writing?

I feel as if, the novel I am writing will have a great plot and I have some creative ideas on where to go with it. My only concern is my ability to develop description through out my story. Any tips ...
9
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3answers
320 views

How to write about what you don't know?

I am a strong believer in writing what you know. Everything I write is at least partially based on something that I have experienced. My problem is that for plot reasons, I need one of my characters ...
7
votes
2answers
368 views

How do I get rid of overused words in my story?

I did a word frequency analysis on my story. Unsurprisingly, the most over-used words often corresponded to passages where I was lazy with my description. I'm tackling my over-used words "laughed" ...
4
votes
3answers
707 views

Describing body language?

This is something I've pondered before. I asked about one gesture on yahoo answers long ago. All I got was a guy saying that even he didn't know the term for it (it was the gesture where someone holds ...
4
votes
5answers
249 views

How can I write an annoying character without annoying the reader?

My story has a group of five refugees traveling across the kingdom. One of them is preachy and pretty much useless (unused to physical labor, trying to convert the heathens in the group). She's ...
20
votes
7answers
6k views

How to write painful torture scenes without being over-the-top

I'm trying to write torture scenes but I'm not really all that confident about it since I've never written anything like it before and have never really witnessed anything violent. I know the methods ...
12
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6answers
5k views

What information about a fictional world is unnecessary?

I was able to gain some insight already thanks to How much detail is too much?, but I still need a more precise answer, because my details aren't bound to a particular scene. I was searching for some ...
21
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11answers
10k views

How to describe skin colour, if “white” is not the point of reference?

A character looks at another character, skin colour creates certain associations. A character looks at himself, and associations would be shaped by society, and by what is "normal" in that society. ...
15
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5answers
1k views

How much description is necessary?

I have trouble imagining things. With me everything is blurred, as if I were almost blind. That's why I find it hard to describe things. For example, the protagonists enter a castle. I have a very ...
8
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3answers
3k views

How to describe a diverse set of characters without falling into purple prose or exoticism?

In my setting, a city was founded by people from all over the world, and developed in almost complete isolation (long version here). The story in itself starts several generations after the foundation....
22
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11answers
7k views

How can I make a character who isn't a jerk seem like one?

I have an MC who, because of certain circumstances, everyone sees him as harsh and cruel at first. As they get to know him through the first few chapters, they eventually see he's nicer than they ...
17
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6answers
4k views

Should a narrator ever describe things based on a character's view instead of facts?

There is something I find myself doing often while writing, and I don't even know what to call it, but I would like to know if its good practice. It happens when I'm writing from a third-person ...
13
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5answers
2k views

Describing a person. What needs to be mentioned?

When describing the physical features of my more important characters, I often don't add much. I of course describe important features, especially if they will be relevant in the story. For example ...
10
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4answers
1k views

What are some ways of extending a description of a scenery?

I find it very hard sometimes to describe a scenery, especially when the features are very bland, like you describe a city where all of the buildings are tall and look about the same or a plain with ...
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6answers
5k views

When is a lack of long, sophisticated words to describe an otherwise simple concept bad?

Reading books of Dan Brown and that sort (pardon my inability to produce any other relevant examples off the top of my head) gives off the impression to budding writers that novels need to have a ...
15
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10answers
4k views

How to refer to clothes without modern words ? (e.g: t-shirt)

This is a constant struggling point of mine. Most of my settings take place in fictional worlds often inspired by various parts of human history. For instance, one of my stories is located in an ...
14
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6answers
4k views

Should I repeat character descriptions if a character reappears the second time too far into the story?

Should I repeat character descriptions if a minor character reappears the second time too far into the story? For example, I have a minor character who is introduced and has a bit of involvement at ...
10
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5answers
3k views

How to avoid pages of dialogue?

I'm starting my story with my protagonist found (by the police), bleeding at a crime scene. When he wakes up, he has no recollection i.e. he's lost his memory. He's interrogated by two Inspectors, ...
8
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7answers
7k views

In what order should I describe a setting?

For instance I'm describing the park of an art museum in a foggy day. I'm not sure if I should start with the fog, wind, grass, threes, walking paths, buildings, stairs or something else. Is there a ...
8
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5answers
657 views

Am I breaking the “show don't tell” rule in the following passage?

Then, as if sensing my presence, the girl turned around. She looked young. Probably sixteen or seventeen. She had long black hair, crimson red lips, and a skin so pale it made me wonder whether ...
5
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6answers
1k views

Physical description of characters

Does a physical description have to be specific to make a character feel real, or can the physical description be general and the details be left to the reader's imagination?
16
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7answers
3k views

Facial expressions as part of dialogue - getting rid of a verbal tic

I noticed a verbal tic in my writing: He looked surprised He looked confused He looked abashed Sometimes twice in a row: The prince looked abashed. “I- I thought I was being polite,” ...
15
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5answers
11k views

How to describe a female character's figure without comedy?

Do you know a good way to describe a female character's figure? I'm writing a fairly serious story, but the only way I know how to describe this is from comedy stories, where they work out some joke ...
15
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4answers
4k views

Confusing writing in order to show how character is falling asleep - is it OK?

Generally, writing something confusing is not good. On the other hand, a writer should show rather than tell. (Generally.) What I'm trying to do is imitate the way one's thoughts get all muddled ...
15
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14answers
14k views

How do I say that someone is black?

Sorry if this is an ancient solved problem to ask in 2019, but I googled about this and Quora isn't really answering me. I searched for the words black and race and politically as key-words on this ...
13
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5answers
7k views

Writing “hahaha” versus describing the laugh

When posting an excerpt of my book on a critiquing site, someone commented on my use of "hahaha" inside the dialogue instead of just having a laughing verb after or before it. They said it took them ...
4
votes
6answers
2k views

How does a person go about describing a place/experience that they never personally experienced before, like a circus?

I've never been to a circus, and all the shows and videos I've seen about them don't give off the full effect. How does a person go about describing a place/experience that they never personally ...
2
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2answers
215 views

How to present a human protagonist from a narrator who does not know what a human is?

My protagonist is an average human as we know it in a world populated by different animal-like species. The narrator (different character) is a member of a species that resemble polar bears. As far as ...
5
votes
4answers
1k views

How can I make description more natural to me?

Description is a weakness in my fiction. My understanding is that the first priority in fiction is to tell the story. Setting does this by providing props and indicating character mindsets, either ...
3
votes
2answers
349 views

First conversation scenes I've written (looking for errors, conventions, and improvements according to writing standards)

I would like to know if I'm doing something wrong (according to writing standards) in the following conversation and how to improve it to help readability, quality and feeling (making it more ...
2
votes
3answers
169 views

Improving techniques independently: Description

How can I improve my technique in description? Which things I should avoid in description? How can I know, that I put "enough" description and will go to narration? My description technique is bad (...
12
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5answers
854 views

How much should I describe things or persons, that are not important for the story?

I discussed a book with a friend, and he disliked that the author described a person who is dying shortly after and has no further effect on the story over a page or more. The same would go for things;...
8
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7answers
9k views

Is it important to describe how the characters are dressed?

One thing that I never mention in my stories is how the characters are dressed. Well, except when they are being described for the first time, when the main character first meets them. How important ...
8
votes
6answers
721 views

Building a scene and readability

When building a scene at the beginning of a chapter for instance, before character interactions take place, what are the important elements to consider, and how long should the description be, before ...
6
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2answers
168 views

How to describe 4 main characters at once without overloading the reader with information?

My main characters first appear in the book all at once. How do write their descriptions so that the reader isn't overloaded with so much information all at once?
3
votes
7answers
464 views

Beginners can break rules too?

I came across several disciplines of writing which one must know while writing (especially beginners), concerning narrative conventions and the rules of story logic. Some of the sources for this ...
2
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2answers
2k views

What are some rich but respectful ways to describe various skin colors?

Say I have a kid's book with children of varying skin tones: a boy with British/Germanic background, a girl with Indian parents in the middle point of Indian skin tones, a girl with a Germanic ...
2
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4answers
14k views

Is the opening of this story intriguing, “dark” and smooth? [closed]

Disclaimer: I'm not an Native English Speaker. This is my fifth attempt of writing a short story (the previous ones are set in the same "universe" as this one). I would like to know if the reader ...
1
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1answer
2k views

Using senses and similes in descriptions

I'm trying to make my descriptions to look less like a bunch of bullet points. So I decided to use more senses and similes. This is something I wrote: The sun hung in the cloudless sky, like a ...
1
vote
1answer
4k views

Tips for describing features of unusual place that I often visit

I'm having problems describing certain parts of a place that I usually visit. Here are some pictures: For instance, I have no idea how I should refer to the wooden platform on the left (so I just ...