The Challenge of Descriptions

Created about 2 years ago by Juan Sesa with 6 comments
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Img 20160806 023915 Luke Fellner · Author · edited about 2 years ago · 1 like
@Shawn Dove Well said, those are some great examples for anyone still struggling with this issue. Another good tip is to put yourself into the characters shoes. Think, "What would they be doing? Are they hiding from the crowd or adoring it? Is this person easily distracted? What stands out to this character?" Then use that information to find the most fitting action.
12341068 987309171307809 6049923588724050749 n Shawn Dove · Author · edited about 2 years ago · 3 likes
In your first draft it doesn’t much matter if you write ten pages of dialogue with nothing else happening. It’s about getting words on the page. And that will happen more easily if you focus on your strengths.

Later, when you go back to the scene, keep in mind two things: setting and purpose. What is the point of the scene? What does each character want? If you can answer these questions, it should be easier to determine whether each line of dialogue is worth keeping. 

As Luke Fellner noted, you can use the setting to keep the action moving by having your characters interact with environment. But you can also use this technique to increase the tension of the conversation. For example, a character might squeeze the handle of her teacup or hit a tennis ball a bit more aggressively than usual to show she is upset. Remember that you can always go back and add these details in a later draft.
Img 20160806 023915 Luke Fellner · Author · added about 2 years ago
@Juan Sesa That might not even be a bad thing. It sounds like you’d be good at writing scripts, if you can make it entertaining then go for it. Set the scene, then write the conversation. As long as the characters have some sort of action that you throw in here and there (if they’re cooking write in what they do while cooking, or if they’re drinking tea have them take a sip) just imagine it as a play if that helps. When someone does an action while speaking.

For example: She asked, "How was work today" as she trimmed the flowers.

You like making characters react to the overworld, then make them interact with what’s around them. While you write a scene think about what would be natural to do at that moment. 
Userphoto7 original Juan Sesa · Author · added about 2 years ago
I often read books that are quite description-heavy, with me inherently skimming through entire paragraphs just to get to the dialogue portion. Once I get the basic layout of the place the characters are in, it´s hard to go into more nuanced detail when the image I might have in my mind doesnt correlate with what is actually written.

I love writing dialogues. Character interactions and how they relate to the overworld are my favourite parts when creating a story, setting up a web of allegiances and inter-relationships. My main issue comes with that same giddiness to just keep on writing... often finding out I´ve written about 10 pages worth of people speaking without much else going on. The conversation might be entertaining, but if it´s just that then it might amount to nothing.

I´d just like to hear tricks or tips to have those 10 pages of what would otherwise be a reading script turn into something more "novel-like".  Ways to help me cut up dialogue in a coherent manner that helps with the flow, in essence.
Img 20160806 023915 Luke Fellner · Author · added about 2 years ago
If the dialogue is good and interesting then you should be fine with a few pages of it. But this might be something you need more in depth help with, do you have any specific questions?
Userphoto7 original Juan Sesa · Author · added about 2 years ago
My struggle might be related to the fact English is my second language, but I nonetheless find writing description paragraphs somewhat overbearing and each of them becomes an uphill climb. I often find myself writing almost 3 full pages made up entirely of either character dialogues or inner monologues, but whenever I get down to describing their surroundings I often feel I´m doing a lackluster job at it and can´t find the proper words.

I´d like to hear your thoughts on the matter. Is it as hard for me as it is for other writers or do I just feel more comfortable having people talk non-stop?