Painting a picture with a thousand words.

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31
votes
8answers
1k views

When is it okay to tell?

One of the major mantras of writing fiction is "show, don't tell". Is it ever okay to tell? When?
19
votes
9answers
2k 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
375 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 ...
12
votes
5answers
628 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;...
11
votes
9answers
1k views

Where to find some good examples of combat or action scenes?

I always learn a lot about about writing by reading other works and following their examples. Right now I'm very bad at writing action scenes; the best I can do is write around them, describing the ...
9
votes
9answers
3k views

How do I write about nerdy concepts without sounding like a tryhard?

How would one express nerdy gobbledygook without sounding like a technical tryhard? For instance, if I were to explain the backstory of something and it perhaps contained the word electromagnetic or ...
9
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
8
votes
6answers
6k views

Is it better to describe the main character's physical appearance early on in the story?

I'm writing a novel, and I just realized I don't describe be main character's appearance until Chapter 3 (each chapter is 1500~2000 words long and there are 25 chapters in total). I do mention that ...
8
votes
9answers
683 views

Good idea to describe the heist place before the heist begins?

I'm working on a heist scene where five thieves are supposed to enter a corporate building and steal a few documents. It's supposed to be a major scene so it won't be short. I need the readers to ...
8
votes
5answers
2k views

Writing about drug induced hallucinations and paranoia

Not long ago I wrote a short story about a mathematics graduate student on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The young student is innocent and working to finish a difficult mathematical derivation ...
7
votes
4answers
743 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 ...
6
votes
7answers
5k 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 ...
6
votes
6answers
3k 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 ...
6
votes
6answers
1k 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 ...
6
votes
5answers
308 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
votes
5answers
729 views

Writing about extreme trauma

I've just written a chapter in which one of my protags witnesses her entire family massacred during an invasion of her home city. This is obviously an extremely traumatic and horrifying event, and in ...
5
votes
4answers
253 views

Some doubts on the use of Italicized words

Okay here's the thing. After a tough verbal fight with my friend, I concluded that I will post this question here and get some concrete answers. According to what I feel, italicized words are used ...
5
votes
4answers
839 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
143 views

RDF vocabularly for storytelling

Can anyone point me to an RDF vocabulary used for story-telling? A Resource Description Framework is a technique for structuring data in a way that computers can easily process it and connect simple ...
5
votes
2answers
122 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
148 views

When to be specific and when to let context fill in the holes?

Some examples: Half-crouching, I went over to the railing and pointed my flashlight down (to the ground). It was approximately a two-storey fall. Not incredibly high, but high enough to kill a ...
4
votes
4answers
227 views

How can I improve this description which includes actions?

This is the beginning of a short story I'm writing (I'm not a native English speaker): I was lying in the dark, looking at the ceiling, counting spider webs. She was lying right beside me. I ...
4
votes
5answers
223 views

How to describe people from the 'eyes' of a blind person?

I am currently working on a fantasy novel that is set in medieval times. I created my world, started to write, and then bumped into a big problem. My MC is blind (along with others of its race) and I ...
4
votes
2answers
86 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
153 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....
4
votes
4answers
1k views

Can my paragraph use better adjectives and descriptions?

I feel my punctuation is all over the place, and the adjectives are not as charming as I think they are. If anyone has watched the beginning of the first Lord of the Rings, where the hobbit is lying ...
4
votes
1answer
852 views

What techniques can be used to describe a character's terror?

I'm trying to write a stressful situation for a character (specifically she's about to be injured) and I'm trying to convey her terror at the situation. My usual trick is to use short snappy ...
3
votes
7answers
324 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 ...
3
votes
5answers
212 views

How can i learn the name of a colour to use in a description?

I am trying to describe this character Source her attire is pretty easy to describe, Purple and Gold (while it looks yellow she addressing herself with majestic plural so gold would be more ...
3
votes
5answers
2k views

Who can help me to describe the text line from my story in slow motion?

This here is a line of my story: As we were in the middle of our conversation, I saw a blinding light heading straight for us, followed by an abrupt honk. Mom screamed as if she saw a ghost, and ...
3
votes
3answers
3k views

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

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 ...
3
votes
3answers
507 views

Critique a short essay

So There I was in the scorching, afternoon, summer heat of Cairo. It was a huge change from the UK’s mild weather, and together with the fact that I had been fasting - as in no food or drink- for 15 ...
3
votes
2answers
101 views

How to write a scene that needs a lot of detail without falling into purple prose?

I understand the "only describe what is necessary" rule. If a character's appearance is important, I'll describe it in moderation. But what if I'm writing a scene that needs a lot of description? What ...
3
votes
3answers
3k views

What elements should be included in a story's setting?

I know this will vary depending on the type of the story and the characters involved, not to mention the location itself. What I am looking for is some kind of guideline for identifying different ...
3
votes
2answers
82 views

Describing a large scale battle in a science fiction/fantasy novel

In my novel, there is a large scale battle involving several factions, tens of thousands of fighters, and is a defining part of the book, as it lasts for a good deal of the novel. As I wrote it, I ...
3
votes
2answers
146 views

Is there a systematic overview over the approaches of describing a physical object?

If one tries to describe sth. very concrete, like a house, for instance, one could try it with different approaches: describing the very physical attributes: the house is 5m wide, 5m deep and 5m ...
3
votes
2answers
182 views

How Can I Effectively Develop Fictional Characters

So, I'm trying my own attempt at writing and I keep having trouble with developing my characters. Are there any effective methods of developing fictional characters? It can just be a small idea or ...
3
votes
1answer
107 views

Repeating the appearance of the main character in every book

I don't know if this just happens to be a thing that's common in the books I read as a kid, but there was always that bit, in the beginning of every book in the series, where the main character(s) ...
2
votes
5answers
121 views

How do I avoid tradeoffs with showing vs. telling? [closed]

I learned early on (as most writers have) "show, don't tell," which I agree with for the most part. However, I've found many situations in writing when I'd start to write a statement in tell, catch ...
2
votes
2answers
226 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
361 views

Can you specify camera angles in your screenplay?

So I guess camera action is up to the director. Would I ever be allowed to pan if it is important? Would I not be able to pick certain angles? If I can, what would be the best way to specify --for ...
2
votes
2answers
331 views

How can you represent music in writing

I was wondering if a character was in a nighclub or at a concert. How do you represent the music? It got me thinking that writing is a very non musical medium and that it is actually pretty hard to ...
2
votes
2answers
278 views

Does the following piece have too much dry narration (mundane tasks, moving about)?

Tsuki woke up to the morning sun that entered through the window. She yawned and sat on the side of the bed, rubbing her eyes. The clock on the wall said half past ten. She brushed her teeth, ...
2
votes
4answers
170 views

Help describing dogs' physical appearance and movement

I'm writing a story about a group of dogs, mongrels mostly. I would like help finding the correct vocabulary to describe their physical appearance. Remember that, been mongrels, I can't say simply "he ...
2
votes
2answers
214 views

Critique of short essay

Basically I need some critics regarding the following points: Does this description essay archive its goal (a creepy story with a 'sappy' ending)? How is the 'rhythm' of the story (is there ...
2
votes
3answers
80 views

How to «show» an irrelevant detail without expressively «tell»?

Here is the environment of my short story: the adaptation of film noir into literature. The characters in the story are David Lynch's Rabbits and I can't find how to introduce them. In the David Lynch ...
2
votes
2answers
130 views

On mastering the art of writing descriptive passages on certain weather conditions

It is, in my opinion, a difficult task to describe certain weather conditions (e.g., an overcast sky, the falling rain, the storm, the rising of the rainbow, the falling of the snow, etc.) effectively....
2
votes
2answers
748 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
votes
3answers
114 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 (...