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February 10th, 2001, 10:16 AM
How can you tell when to use a descriptive style, a "bare bones" type of style, or whatever else?

I've been curious about this for some time now. I was always told that my stories got better as I used more text to describe something. I can only see that it would give the reader the point of view that you want. I can also see that if you wanted to keep a character somewhat mysterious, wouldn't you want to be less descriptive with that character?


February 10th, 2001, 09:49 PM
I think that, when you want the reader to know everything about something, you try to describe everything about it. When you want to hide something, then you describe much less.
Now about how descriptivy you are... I don't think that, when you (not you excacly, of course; generaly speaking) are more descriptive, you are better always; its a matter of style. Other people are more descriptive, others less...
Write something the way you feel it; the way it comes. If you want to describe more, by all means, do so; if not, then your subconsious might want to tell you something (or the other way around).

February 12th, 2001, 03:22 AM
My 2 cents. It is possible to be too descriptive and I think it is a mistake a lot of people make when they first start out. If it is something that is important to the story, for whatever reason, somehow it needs to be included it in the story. If it doesnít matter then take it out, regardless of what it is. i. e. there is rarely a need to describe each customer in the pub. Only you can determine what is important to the story and what is not. I canít tell you how many times I debated with myself on whether sentences or paragraphs or even pages needed to be included. My rule of thumb is that if it distracts or confuses the reader then it either needs to be taken out or at the least rewritten.

Also, you should keep in mind point of view, i. e. if you are writing from a certain characterís point of view and he just walked into a dark room, then that character canít describe the room. Another example is if the character just meet someone, they canít know the personís background or morals. The character can note physical appearance to help lead to a conclusion, but then again, first impressions are often wrong. http://www.sffworld.com/ubb/smile.gif

February 12th, 2001, 10:13 PM
I agree with you, Kats. Let me ask you something: What is your opinion of multiplue POVs in a story? You know, when it is interesting to see what a certain character thinks, you change to his/her POV; then, you can change to the next interesting POV.

February 13th, 2001, 01:32 PM
Bardos, my personal opinion is that changing POVs is perfectly fine, as long as youíre not constantly switching back and forth and the change should be at an obvious place (i.e. new chapter). Iíve read stories where the POV changed just about every paragraph and it is very hard to follow. This was actually one of my biggest problems when I first started writing, which is probably why I have such a strong opinion on it. http://www.sffworld.com/ubb/smile.gif Itís still something that I look for (and find) when I proof read my stories. The other major areas I have to constantly be aware of is dialog, giving too much BORING information, and making my characterís perfect. So I tend to have a strong opinion about these things too.

February 18th, 2001, 10:18 AM
To tell the truth, I like POV switches in the same chapter; though not in a way that they confuse you, of course! I think it can be done right. (And don't assume that that means I don't respect your opinion fully.)

Say... sometimes, IMHO, its nice to see how people think, when they talk. E.g., two men are trying to have an alliance, but each one thinks (and you can write his thoughts in italics) that he'll probaly betray the other!
Now, isn't that fun? And you can't do it with only one POV in each chapter. http://www.sffworld.com/ubb/wink.gif Its about how many dimensions you want to give to your story. 1 POV = 1 dimension; 2 POVs = 2 dimension. Of course, that can get pretty confusing (for the writer also!), if you have, say, 6 dimensions (!!). %)

One POV, I think is nice when you want to create mystery (and not only in that case, of course). You tell the reader what that character thinks, and you hide the others' thoughts, so the whole story (or the certain part of the story) has more "???", if you know what I mean...

Anyway. All people find a way to write that suits them best. http://www.sffworld.com/ubb/wink.gif
(That doesn't mean, of course, it isn't creative to exchange opinions with others.)

February 23rd, 2001, 10:16 AM
I think that the description should be as brief as possible while still including everything the reader should know. If a lot of description goes into something, that's a flag to the reader telling them that something is important. If it turns out that nothing major happens, it's a letdown.

On switching POV: In between chapters or sections of chapters (you know, where the text stops for a few lines) is where you should switch, never just do it on the fly between sentences/paragraphs. If you limit your story to only cetain characters, then it creates more mystery because there are thing they won't know about others. Even with a viewpoint character, you don't have to reveal their whole life history all at once, it all depends on the story. Spilling the beans on everything in chapter one is a common problem for beginners.

February 23rd, 2001, 09:42 PM
I think what you say about POV (changing only after chapter, or between paragraphs) is no rule. Just think that there are many writers (published and well known) who don't do it that way, and others who do it. Feist, eg, changes POV in the middle of the story; Margaret Weis, also; Michael Moorcock; Tolkien (!); some others that I can think of, not so well known; some "old writers" also. And there are others who are very strict on their POV: R.E. Howard, sometimes; Jordan; Martin...
What I'm trying to say is there is no Rule about POVs; the only Rule is not to comfuse (yourself and) the reader, and make things interesting in a story.
In a site, somewhere (sorry, I can't remember the address now), I read there are no "golden rules" in writing, just experience.
MHO, only. http://www.sffworld.com/ubb/smile.gif

[This message has been edited by Bardos (edited February 24, 2001).]

February 24th, 2001, 07:48 AM
As to there being no ďgolden rulesĒ to writing, this was a major problem for me in college literature classes. The teachers hold up renowned authors and what do you know. They supposedly use run on sentences or something to emphasize a certain point. But we, as students, can not deviate from the given rules. It just hit me as hypocritical.

February 24th, 2001, 08:31 AM
Kats, I'm so glad I find same opinions in other people. http://www.sffworld.com/ubb/smile.gif Thought, I haven't taken literature classes, when I remember what this people told us in school about writing!... Well, I just get... upset! -believe me. http://www.sffworld.com/ubb/wink.gif
Personaly, I like original things.