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Trabia Garden
You May Have Seen A Million Entries About This, But This One Has Pokémon.
Dean Winchester Is Noel Fielding's Girlfriend. 
19th-Feb-2008 09:58 pm
hope is all we have
Oh, Internet. I love that this is a world in which I can write a story with the moral 'some things are more important than not having sex with your brother' and nobody will bat an eyelid. (Other morals of my fics include 'it doesn't matter whether she's in human form or not; having sex with your best friend's dog is never going to have a positive impact on your friendship', 'you can't judge zombies just because they crave human flesh' and 'never let Jeremy Clarkson get his hands on a Charizard'.) Thank you so much for your reviews!

AND NOW IT IS TIME FOR WRITERLY ANGST. Awesome!

Sometimes, I really wish that I could write description. I'm fairly certain that my strongest point in writing is dialogue, and I am generally quite happy with that because character interaction is my favourite thing in the world, but every so often I will read a fic that throws me into a scene and absolutely takes my breath away with its beautiful descriptions.

I've been writing for eight years now, and I have never worked out how to write description. It is an ability that eludes me entirely. When I write, the only things I describe in any detail are the thoughts of the characters, and I limit external descriptions to three words of scene-setting and perhaps a couple of very plain sentences describing some gesture or action. It would be nice to be capable of more than that, I think; I love writing dialogue, but it doesn't create a sense of absorption and being there in the way that really good description does.

Alas.

Share with me your writerly strengths and weaknesses, flist! And then those of you with complementary strengths and weaknesses can give each other advice and you can all become amazing super-writers who are brilliant at everything. Not that some of you aren't already. (Alternatively, you can tell me some of the weirder moral lessons that can be drawn from your fics.)
Comments 
19th-Feb-2008 10:40 pm (UTC)
Hmmmm... I find writing dialogue easiest, because that's how most of my fics begin, I imagine a conversation and the rest builds around it.

When I do write description... this is going to be totally unhelpful, because I do write a moody descripty piece, I hardly ever think about how I write it. It just seems to happen. (I'm really bad at 'making' myself write, even though the results are often ok when I do)

One thing that does help is to have a really clear picture of the scene you want to describe. Not just what it looks like, but what are the little sounds, what does it smell like, how does it feel. You might not have words for it, or describe any of those things in the finished description, but I find it helps get things sorted. If I'm feeling particularly wanky you can think about how certain sounds evoke certain moods. Like lots of sssss are quiet or mysterious or sad. Long vowels are mournful but quick sharp sounds are good for action or hurry.
19th-Feb-2008 10:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Don't worry about being unhelpful; I cannot possibly explain how I write dialogue. And this is actually really good advice. Possibly I will try writing an experimental descriptive piece with this in mind.

I think part of the problem may be that I don't have a very visual imagination, which I am inclined to blame on the fact that, although I've been short-sighted since I was born, I didn't have my eyes tested (and so didn't have glasses) until I was seven or so. IT MAKES SENSE TO ME.
19th-Feb-2008 10:43 pm (UTC)
I think I'm kind of the opposite of you. Dialogue causes me ANGST AND WOE. I try and use as little of it as possible. But then, I have been told that my dialogue is always very in-character? I totally don't believe this. I only write EMO DIALOGUE or NOT ENTIRELY EMO DIALOGUE.

I've been told off in the past for trying to wriggle too far inside people's minds. But I like doing that. My fics have zero plot, and are pretty much entirely character analysis, so.

I like description too. Because, I like words. And I like comparisons. My fics are full of "[character x] [verbed] like a [noun]" - too much, I think, but then I can never think of an alternate way of phrasing things. I just think if you can compare something to a totally random something else, it creates a better picture? Like if you say someone's running, well, that's boring. But if you say someone's running like a bat at night, then it kind of conjures up a different image? MAYBE IDK.

MY WEAKNESS IS EDITING BTW. AS IN, I DON'T DO IT. I write the last sentence of a fic, and then send it straight to you without even re-reading it rofl ;__;

/BLAB

P.S. I AM LISTENING TO POKEMON SONGS
19th-Feb-2008 10:51 pm (UTC)
I don't understand how people can avoid dialogue! It is the most fun in the world. And your comparisons are awesome.

P.S. POKÉMON SONGS ARE THE BEST SONGS

P.P.S. I am going to use this icon in every comment I make to you until I deem that you have been punished enough for creating the image in the first place.
19th-Feb-2008 10:49 pm (UTC)
A good way to practice is to just find an interesting picture and write a paragraph about it. Throw all your senses at it, make up some sort of link to a plot that could exist, come up with flowery metaphors and personify the plants. It's a good writing exercise and really helps when including description in stories.

Well, that's how I've been taught, anyway.
19th-Feb-2008 10:52 pm (UTC)
Ooh, that sounds really interesting! I shall give it a try. Thank you!
19th-Feb-2008 10:53 pm (UTC)
I'm totally the opposite - dialogue is a big weakness of mine and description I'm actually really good at. I find RPing helps, of course, and so does writing drabbles - when I had to go into work every day on the train, I took my notebook with me and drabbled for the journey, or just sat and stared into space and wrote down the first plotty idea that came into my head, no matter how daft. I like to almost...taste the environment, to really get my teeth into it and show others how I imagine it. I guess I'm just a really visual person.

Can you also tell I'm hungry? Mmmm, toast...
19th-Feb-2008 11:05 pm (UTC)
I find it really interesting to see how different people have such completely different ways of writing. I carry a notebook or three pretty much everywhere with me already, so perhaps I should start writing visual-description exercises in spare moments of time.

Also, I am so hungry right now and it is all your fault.
19th-Feb-2008 10:55 pm (UTC)
I-I have no idea how to write descriptions, either! Or plots! Or how to start a story! Or end a story! Or write anything at all long! And I am forever jealous of your awesomely in-character and brilliantly snarky dialogue. Please hand over your talent at once. At once.

19th-Feb-2008 10:57 pm (UTC)
Seriously, if somebody would give me some advice on How To Work Out A Plot, or even How To Pay Attention To Plot In Movies And Novels, I would be terribly grateful.
19th-Feb-2008 11:08 pm (UTC)
I'm pretty good at showing what a character's thinking, and I'm lousy at...description, actually. I live in fear of Becoming Too Purple. I'm not too sure how my dialogue skills are. My dialogues range between mediocre and pretty damned good.

Of course, I could be completely wrong and have things the other way around.

Ooh! I have problems with plots. I mean, my plots start out simple, but then get more complicated as I go - the basic beginning, middle and end stay the same, but I add in details. "This bit's too simple. Let's give him a strange not-quite-girlfriend who makes him work in a BDSM club." (Yes. Really. ...actually, I'm sure you won't find that too hard to believe.) So I end up having to trim out details that just make the entire thing a little too surreal.

Moral lessons from my stories? Umm..."it's okay to be a prostitute as long as you're okay with being a prostitute". (Partly because I honestly believe that if both the people involved in the transaction don't think prostitution makes you less of a person, there's really nothing wrong with it.

Um.

I'll just go over here now.)
19th-Feb-2008 11:14 pm (UTC)
I think the fact that 'Let's give him a strange not-quite-girlfriend who makes him work in a BDSM club' didn't even make me raise an eyebrow is a sign that I've known you for too long. (Your writing can be too surreal?)

And, hey, I think that sounds like a perfectly reasonable stance on prostitution.
19th-Feb-2008 11:10 pm (UTC)
Descriptions are evil! I don't think I know how to write them, either. Whenever I try, I end up deleting and rewriting everything at least six times before I give up and go back to original wording. Which I always think is too long and not actually descriptive enough! (I nearly killed myself and ineptmagicuser with the amount of angst I threw about while trying to write the one or two scenes that might actually qualify as having any sort of descriptive writing in GT.)

My other huge weakness is that sometimes characters will slowly start drifting into the realms of OOC, and if I don't catch it quickly, I end up having to rewrite pages and pages. Also, length control (ENOUGH JUST SHUT UP AND END THE STORY GOOD LORD). And writing the middle. So far I've been lucky with endings coming to me, but the middle? Haha, no.

Once I get into the flow of it, though, I think I can do a decent job with dialogue / internal monologues.


...The only weird moral lesson from my fics that I can come up with is, "Sometimes letting the goblin kill you really might be the better idea." Which, admittedly, is pretty weird.
19th-Feb-2008 11:25 pm (UTC)
I find it oddly reassuring when others share my inability to describe.

Also, er, 'Sometimes letting the goblin kill you really might be the better idea'? I can't say I'm not curious.
19th-Feb-2008 11:10 pm (UTC)
Dialogue gives me the heebies, I'm always in awe of folks like you who make it look easy. As for description... I hate being spoonfed details, but on the other hand you need to set a scene, and I always find myself trying to walk that tightrope, terrified of overloading the reader and getting horribly purple, or of putting in so little that people are left scratching their heads. I suppose if I could give one tip, it's blandness checking. Look at things like you're looking at a picture. Why have 'he held onto the rail' when you could have 'bits of old white paint flaked onto his skin as he gripped the rail hard'?

Um... in conclusion, I have no idea. That was useful...
19th-Feb-2008 11:14 pm (UTC)
heee...gripped the rail hard...

*giggle*
19th-Feb-2008 11:11 pm (UTC)
My greatest weakness is with endings - I'm rarely happy with how I end something.
19th-Feb-2008 11:12 pm (UTC)
Wow, I'm kind of the opposite: I can write description almost without even thinking about it, to the degree that I write way, way too much of it, and have to edit masses out because it gets really boring. I fail and fail hard at plot--and I don't even mean a complex and interesting journey of events, I mean ANYTHING HAPPENING IN ANY WAY. I only appear to be able to write scenes on their own. Meanwhile, I'm so busy desperately trying to both get rid of my pointless description and come up with an almost-plot that I barely have time to consider what's going on with the dialogue, and so that just kind of... happens. I really should put more thought into it. (Also, as my prolificness or lack of it attests, I fail at a) starting and b) finishing things anyway, so whether I can do dialogue or description or plot is probably by the by.)
20th-Feb-2008 06:59 am (UTC)
Your dialogue is very good. Very, very good. And I LOVE your description. So there.
19th-Feb-2008 11:15 pm (UTC)
Um, I just share your weakness. And then you have people like littlemoose who can write entire lovely ficlets without any dialogue at all but it still makes perfect sense and you don't even realise the dialogue isn't even there!

Also, sex. I am not good at sex scenes, probably because it involves a lot of descriptions.
20th-Feb-2008 12:09 am (UTC)
I'm not aware of being particularly good or bad at description. I think it may be something I'm actually just okay at (as in there's enough so it rounds out the fic, but not striking or impressive).

How visual is the writing process for you? Because the easier it is to picture in your head, the easier it seems to be to describe it.
19th-Feb-2008 11:17 pm (UTC)
I have problems with dialogue and keeping an even tone. The longest fic I have could be a lot better if I'd kept Sam and Annie in character, and watching all those Bollywood films when I was younger has done nothing good for my sense of melodrama.

As it is, I have a tardis_bigbang fic to finish in a few weeks- must put chunks up on my journal beforehand- and Pokemon music reminds me that I wanted to send you some modern rock-ish stuff and forgot :O *fiddles with e-mail*

Aaaand i can't seem to add Windows media player files to my email. Perhaps I shall try with iTunes tomorrow. (And please don't feel like I'm going out of my way; I like lending people CDs or burning a copy for them.)

Edited at 2008-02-20 01:04 am (UTC)
19th-Feb-2008 11:17 pm (UTC)
I am Very Bad at plot. Especially when writing things longer than, say, a few thousand words. I lose all sense of pacing and I suspect it all becomes very boring and wordy and dull.

Description = a thing that I can do. Probably because I have a very visual sort of brain. Everything I write is basically the book-of-the-film of what there is in my head, and I love to play around with the words and see how best I can bring across exactly what it is I'm seeing. Atmosphere is my favourite thing to do. IDK HOW TO ADVISE YOU THOUGH. Try writing descriptively about some scenes in films?
19th-Feb-2008 11:24 pm (UTC)
Ah, so you're a film-in-your-head thing? That is so amazing. I kinda have a book-on-tape-in-my-head, but with some picturey stuff.
19th-Feb-2008 11:27 pm (UTC)
I am good at EVERYTHING by which I mean I am good at coming up with cool scenes and awesome ideas? Though draegonhawke insists I'm lousy at tying anything together and I have the attention span of a gnat, but pssshw, se's just jealous. And obsessed with LOGICAL PLOT PROGRESSION what's that about. Laaame.
19th-Feb-2008 11:33 pm (UTC)
HI RIONA I'M SPAMMING YOUR LJ AND TALKING TO YOUR FRIENDS.

The word for 'no logical plot progression' is "avant-garde" or possible "postmodern". I can see you're really being very clever but are just too modest to tell us.
19th-Feb-2008 11:42 pm (UTC)
My big weakness; sex. I tend to cover for it by making so many other things go on during the sex bits that it balances out. But I have some difficulty, and a great deal of dislike for writing sex scenes. Which is a problem, because sometimes I get really cool fic ideas that need sex to work.

Also, writing very short fic. They tend to run longer than I intended. Drabbles are extremely difficult, and trying to keep it down to a few pages is a chore.

Writing pairings that I ship big time. Because I'm weird. I'm good with pairings I sort-of ship, but when I'm really into them, I can't.

Strengths; I've got a good ear for dialogue. I'm good at characterization. I tend to come up with bucketloads of plot at the drop of a hat (seriously, don't drop a hat). I can be funny. I'm good at understated angst where everything's so much worse than the character's actions would seem to suggest. I can do decent interior monologue. I have a really weird imagination. I don't squick easily. I watch character's body language enough that I can pick up on what it actually looks like, not just fanon from other fic. I can do happy stuff that doesn't lack depth, and dark stuff that's not unrelentingly bleak.

Basically, I rock.
19th-Feb-2008 11:45 pm (UTC)
Man, it'd seem arrogant if it weren't completely true. Your writing is brilliant.
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