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12

It's important to remember that the characters live in your head, but they only are present in the reader's consciousness to the extent you place them there through your words. As a writer, I also dislike writing physical descriptions, but as a reader, they are very helpful in helping visualize a character. When a physical description comes in a book after ...


10

I think readers need some general idea about the physical characters. It's generally a good idea if we know gender, for example. But other than that, I'd say most of your description can (and should) come as needed. Show what your characters look like by having them do things. A strong man can be called on to lift something, an old person can hobble, or ...


9

Capitalize it: the Darkness. I believe Tolkien did this with the Ring. It's the common way in fantasy (and christian religion: some god versus God).


7

You can use semi-colons when you want to use commas as well. For example: He had three ties: a red one, which he hated; a striped one, which he loved; and a green one that had been given to him by his aunt. Sometimes you can enclose extra information in parentheses. For example: I like several different dishes: lasagne (only if it is made with ...


7

Capitalizing it is good, but coming up with another name for it is better. Churchill famously called it the Black Dog. Yours could be the Black Oil, or Dark Oil, or Devil's Touch, et cetera.


6

If you work for a client, especially if you write advertising, brochures, operating manuals and other publications that they authorize or even publish, they dictate the style. (The same is true in fiction or news or science or any other kind of writing, too, by the way. All publishing houses have their own style manuals, and if it bothers you to put a ...


5

It's quite common to see dreams or memories placed in italics. I personally find this a beneficial technique since it effectively conveys a sense of altered consciousness. However, it depends, as always, on the effect you want to create --whether you want to emphasize or de-emphasize a discontinuity with the waking state. Some writers also place the dream ...


5

Do not differentiate the dream text from the surrounding text. What you want is that readers follow the experience of the protagonist. The protagonist does not know that he dreams until he wakes up. The reader should not know that the protagonist dreams before he reads that the protagonist awakens, either. If you want the reader to know that the ...


5

You will probably come to find that different writing styles suit different purposes. This is taught in most writing classes, usually with discussion of "audience" or "target" or "purpose". So you've already found one style (formal academic writing) that works for one audience and purpose. That doesn't mean it's the only way you can write. Your post here ...


5

As with adverbs, the key is "far too often". There's nothing wrong with using a gerund (riding) with a modifier (bike), although I wouldn't use the hyphen to connect them. Everything's "allowed", if it works. But if you yourself feel you're using them too often, you probably are, so you should give them a careful look. You may find they're less obtrusive ...


4

For this specific case, I don't see a reason to set it off. In fact, I would likely find emphasis-by-formatting distracting. Here's why I don't think you need to do anything special: You've already mentioned the darkness. You've described it in a vivid, visceral way. Then you immediately refer to it as "this darkness." Readers will know that you're ...


4

Your sentences are exactly right, Alexandro. In each case what follows the comma is a list of sentence elements in apposition to each other, one that is appropriately punctuated with commas. In the first example, you have noun phrase appositives, and in the second, absolute phrases in apposition. One item in each list has a comma within it : hair, almost ...


4

What a great question! Your instincts are good. "Excessively ornamented and often times convoluted" writing may earn you high marks in a class, or even in academia. But in the real world setting, simple and direct gets the job done. I have 3 pieces of advice that I've learned from others (or learned the hard way) over the years: Vocabulary, vocabulary, ...


4

If you don't describe a character the moment they first appear, the reader will form an image. If you're happy to let readers form whatever image they want, don't describe the character, ever. Many stories do this. If you are going to describe a character, do it as soon as you can when they first walk onstage. Never wait until after the reader has formed ...


3

OVER-using adverbs is a sign of bad writing, just like OVER-using anything else. In your first example, I think it's fine. There are different kinds of smiles, it's hard to describe the differences between them using "showing" words, and it's important that people know what kind of smile this is. So I don't have a problem with "kindly". Technically, I guess ...


3

I'm currently reading the Diving Universe books by K. K. Rusch. They are told in first person, and all we ever learn about the protagonist is that she is a woman (from the blurb and by inference). We are not told anything else. The other characters refer to her as their "boss" or not at all. We don't know her age, looks or anything. What we do learn, though, ...


3

Excessive concission always seems affected. Feel free to increase the words to idea ratio. Ignore the unimportant ideas as a way to cut verbosity. If you want your words to have a greater impact, say less and only say what matters. My greatest asset in limiting my vocabulary choice is to remember which words my little sister uses. If you are an only child ...


2

Typically, italics indicate when a word is being used in a non-standard manner. This seems to me the best choice for the examples given. I could see capitalizing if it was being anthropomorphized or used as a title ("The Darkness"), but that doesn't seem to be the case here. So you have no choice but to fight alone. Fight this darkness alone. ...


2

It seems to me that Kit Z. Fox's answer, which you quoted in the question itself, is a good answer. That is, you can avoid ever describing your characters. Whether it seems weird depends on the expectations of your readers, the genre you're writing in, and your own style and narrative voices. In your case, it seems like you are writing (conventional?) ...


2

There are different kinds of essays - are you looking at an expository essay (an academic essay designed to set forth an argument about a specific idea)? If so, there's really not much creativity required... Standard format is to start with a hook - something that connects the topic of your essay to the larger world or than shows why readers should be ...


2

You need to know what clues she will find. If she finds for example a paper, it's most likely to be in the trash or stolen from a student's bag. There is always the conversation in the bathroom while she is also in there but they don't know. A lot of teens use the web and smartphones today. A message can be wrongly sent to her, she might find a site or some ...


1

You have got to try writing these clues/ideas down and then see which ones work. Of course you've got lots of ideas in your head but you won't be able to judge which ones really have legs until you put them on paper so they can run. Some of them might trip over and fall, others will spring to the line, but you can't see which ones will break the tape until ...


1

The first thing you should ask yourself is whether or not the additional description helps to further the story. If it helps the reader get a better sense of the setting or mood of the scene, then you should consider adding it. However, if you are only adding it to increase the amount of content, then definitely don't do it. Your second example does do a ...


1

It's a balance. When I read the first version, it just barely verges on being "too sensational", but it works. The second version offers an improvement of sorts, but phrases like "That's right" which Acknowledge how sensational/confusingly disparate the events are, instead of just letting the reader realize that for herself, are deleterious. I.e.: know how ...


1

As Kate said, over-using adverbs is never good, but they do tend to serve some strong sense when needed. Some writers follow the no-adverbs attitude but it is OK to use one occasionally. Usually there is a word describing the action and the adverb together for example "Said quietly" is quite similar to "whispered". And it's especially noticed the trivial ...


1

First a disclaimer: There are always exceptions to every rule, especially when it comes to writing - some people can do completely opposite things to each other, and still produce good works. That said, I would suggest as a good rule of thumb, that you never explicitly describe physical characteristics, unless they are related to something else in the ...


1

Honestly, I think you're good with whatever style you choose, as long as you're consistent. As far as your options go: Italics. Do not use if you need it for other things that are typically typeset in italics such as biological proper species names. Capitalization. Only disadvantage can be that it comes with a certain level of personification. As in, the ...


1

I would probably use italics for this. Another option you might want to consider is small caps. It makes words stand out as different, but not painfully so (like all-caps-plus-bold might).


1

Another option (although I can't speak for its grammatical propriety) that might help guide the reader through different pauses that help distinguish items on the list from the side descriptions of them would be to use dashes. She looked tough: pierced nose, broad eyebrows, tousled hair - almost spiky. I tried picturing him: his tiny body swinging ...


1

For class, write whatever gives you a good grade. Otherwise, write for yourself. You already know what gives you that feeling of repulsion. Trust that feeling. Write for yourself.



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