When I write out of a limited third person or first person perspective and do descriptions, I try to write down what this person would perceive.
And of course I go by how I look at things.
I've noticed that I tend to zoom in on a few details. Like, I walk into a room, I notice that it is very light because of the big windows - and then rather than look at all the furniture and carpets, I'll focus on a weird looking paperweight on the desk.
So I do descriptions the same way.
My character meets a person. He'll notice she's smaller than him and darkhaired. The end.
The rest is sharp eyes boring into him, the rustle of silk and a strong smell of sweet perfume hitting him, but it sort of homes in on his awareness while he's busy thinking of other stuff, if you see what I mean.
I'll also repeat the most obvious feature or habit - like, if someone purses their mouth habitually, I'll let him focus on that now and again.
Is this a normal way of looking at things or am I sensually challenged?
Of course, if someone is a trained spy and used to taking in every detail then I do descriptions differently. Hasn't happened so far, though).
January 9th, 2006, 07:16 AM
It's easier to show that tell, least for me.
This is a section where a character is thinking about her home.
"Her fatherís workplace always made Catrin think of a large hayfork. The first prong was the slender narrow storeroom, in which iron and charcoal rubbed shoulders with barrels of far stranger goods. The second was the squat rear forge; this was the original building, which had sat on the site since before she was born. The slate of its roof was marbled with green mould. Its outer timbers patched and repaired.
The third, and the largest prong of the fork, took the form of a high, oak roofed room. With new tight fitting red brickwork on its lower levels surmounted with fine timber, this building was full to the brim, with slapping leather belts; the singsong sound of stone grinding wheels and the creak of greased metal-toothed wooden cogs.
The back of this imaginary hayfork was the large front workshop, with its nest of finely made chimneys. Catrinís father had five working hearths and over thirty men in his employ. The biggest and best forge in the country as far as Catrin was concerned. The workings were the pride of her family, but the envy of many."
January 9th, 2006, 07:58 AM
I like the way you've linked the description to the character's musings and emotions.
I guess I'd just like to know whether my view of the world is especially fragmented.
January 9th, 2006, 08:40 AM
no. :) i write the same! i may not notice small details (or my cahracter may not) but they notice scents, touches, the feel of something. my hero is a bit peacocky, he notices clothing detail a fair bit, but he does notice perfume, the feel of a room, the touch of it.
January 10th, 2006, 08:56 PM
I hate reading 3 pages of someone describing a hill. Well truthfully, I hate reading description very much beyond the bare minimum. Therefore I am dreadful at writing it. This is description at my best (thus far). Here it is a snippet of a dream sequence in one of my short stories.
"Jonah was an old man. Bony, transparent hands clutched a walking stick. A wispy, white beard hung over his gaunt belly. Jonah looked at his feet, the earth was sticky with blood, such was the fate of the people of this land.The spattering of trees around him were twisted, gnarled and void of leaves except for a few crunchy brown ones hanging on."
January 11th, 2006, 07:54 AM
If you're writing from a particular character's viewpoint, it only makes sense that the person will center on a few aspects of the scene, and not catalogue the whole thing. For instance, several times my wife has pointed out that someone is crossed eyed, or has a lazy eye, and I never noticed such things.
January 11th, 2006, 08:24 AM
I look at things like this:
Walk into room, plant feet, point and say loudly CAT, TABLE, TELLY, WINDOW.....until I have done. I have been banned from many establishments.
January 11th, 2006, 11:46 AM
i also hate huge amounts of descritpions, despite writing them! but i think that some can help set the mood. its abotu choosing what works best, i guess, and it hink that smells and touches and little details, are more interesting than a long overview of everything.
i find i am OBSESSED with describing rooms. new rooms. not in detail, but in saying what furniture is in it. i really hav eno idea why!
January 12th, 2006, 08:25 AM
To quote my favourite classic, Anton Chekhov.
"To write is to shorten."
Long descriptions tend to be boring if they somehow do not realte to the immediate situation. I find that in fantasy novels the trend is for a 1.5 page description before they do something, as a reader, I tend to skip that altogether.