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Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday Moods--Thankful and Crafty

My thankful Mood is all about my Mr. Linky experience. It has been great, and I'm now feeling as if I'm on my way to organized. I've set my book launch ahead a bit since there was a delay in production, but the delay won't be long. Thanks to those who signed up to give me a hand and thanks to MPax for all her help with Mr. Linky as well the emails of encouragement. Lee at Tossing It Out, Rachael Harris and Alex Cavanaugh will still be hosting me, but in August.  Julie Muslie will host me in late July.
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Now on to my Crafty Mood. I've been so tied up with the business of writing that I feel as though I've neglected the craft. I need to return to that and remember that launches are not possible without actual writing.

One thing I've been doing a bit more of is reading and paying close attention to how the stories I really enjoy pull me into their characters and the worlds these characters inhabit. I love the fast-paced action and the tight dialog, but I also like those quiet moments when the author DESCRIBES the characters and the setting for me.

Description is an important piece of a story, and to bring that story to life on the page requires such skill on the part of writers. They have to translate the sight, sound, smell and feel of the people and  places so the readers have access to them, have a sense of what the characters look like, how they're experiencing something or being affected by it. And they have to do it without resorting to clichés--the bubbling brook, the attractive woman, the bustling city, the stinky socks or the meow of the cat.

Appealing to all the senses adds depth and reality and allows the reader more of a chance to really lose himself in the prose. Here's one passage I love because it tackles two of our senses to deliver up the character.

"Zalatnick led me into the shop not as if I was a fellow looking for a job but as if I was a friend of a friend. I was sure the men in the shop could smell the difference."

Here's Stephen King on DESCRIPTION: "Thin description leave the reader feeling bewildered and nearsighted. Overdescription buries him or her in details and images. The trick is to find a happy medium."

How true, Mr. King. The craft is all about knowing what to include and what to leave out. If the writer includes just the right amount, the left-out portion allows the reader to interact and become one with the story. This is such an incredible skill that I think I'll be focused on it for a while, so if you visit here for the next few weeks, I'll be writing about what I'm learning about DESCRIPTION.

What brought this post on were these pictures of spider-webbed trees, an unexpected side-effect of the flooding in parts of Pakistan earlier this year. It seems millions of spiders escaped the rising waters and stayed among the branches, creating these surreal images. When I saw them I wondered how I'd put something like this into words. My first try was to call these trees captured by smoke. How would you describe what you see if you were writing a description of these trees?




32 comments:

  1. Those photos are wild!
    Balancing description is difficult for me because I tend to not use enough. Working on it though.

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  2. Those photos are eerie/beautiful.

    They're wrapped in a silken gauze, distorting color and shape, as if seen through a fog.

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  3. I love your pictures. This is how I create my collage for my world building, snag photos that inspire me to think outside of the box.

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  4. The trick is to write the description through the eyes of the characters.

    Love the pictures!

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  5. Veiled, I think, is a verb I would use.

    Your reference to the "bubbling brook" made me laugh. When I was little, I wrote a series of stories about a family. Every installment mentioned in the first paragraph that they lived in a "dove-white house by a babbling brook."

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  6. Those trees are like Eeww. I'm so glad you bring up description. I believe action, characterization and description should be evenly balanced in a novel, and I'm kinda getting sick of some betas, CPs, and agents who want all-action-all-the-time like they're watching WWF wrestling. The action doesn't matter unless the reader is fully invested in the character. *sigh*

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  7. I'll be looking forward to your posts on descriptions because I don't like writing them and can use some help on making them good.

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  8. Glad that you are feeling more organized about your launch. We are looking forward to being a part of everything! I agree with Stephen King about description- it is all about finding a happy medium.

    The trees are fantastic! So different. The trees are cloaked in smokey webs which suffocate them from all that they need.

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  9. Wow, those are some crazy trees. Makes me shudder, too.

    Glad to help you anyway I can, Lee. :) Glad the planning of your launch is going well.

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  10. Hi Lee .. I saw the news article on the floods and thus the trees - we have the same phenomenon here and on the continent ... the moth larva that creates it is called the "bird-cherry ermine" .. as they love cherry trees - I've always loved that description and wrote about them - oddly enough three years ago today! Coincidence!

    Cheers Hilary

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  11. Weird... the first thing that came to mind was "trees in the immediate aftermath of a nuclear explosion..." but the peep in pic No. 3 wouldn't have been there...

    Very unusual pics :)

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  12. I can't believe how many spiders must be there!
    Let's see-
    Hundreds of spiders went to work, encasing the trees in a silken web. The effect reminded her of cotton candy at the fair.

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  13. These photos are amazing! They look like they're straight out of a horror movie. Great tips on descriptive writing! Julie

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  14. Hi :)

    It looks like a living fog is trying to suck the life out of those trees! So strange.

    King is right...many times I've read books that havn't mastered the happy medium.

    Have a good week.

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  15. the character would each describe in their own way---breathtaking pictures

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  16. I used to overdescribe, still do at times, and now I'm revising a WIP that doesn't have enough description. It is something that needs the right balance.

    Those pictures are amazing.

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  17. Balancing description is tricky and fascinating. I look forward to reading more of your wonderful blog posts on this.
    As for those trees--beautiful yet creepy (I'm not a fan of spiders). Given how unique this situation is, I might describe the webs in the trees more literally and save the imagery for a more common or familiar occurrence.

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  18. Amazing photos! i try to make sure I have enough description to keep my readers grounded in terms of setting, and action.
    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  19. Eerie and beautiful photos. I sometimes have too much description and have to pull back.

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  20. The imagery in the photos is otherworldly.

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  21. Those trees look so freaky! I think that desciption thing is SO TRICKY and I think the reason it's tricky is because the right about changes depending on what you are describing. Something unfamiliar needs more, something that is common experience or easy to extrapolate needs less. So there isn't a simple rule to follow.

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  22. I don't like too much description. I think some things are best left to the readers imagination. A kind of fill in the little gaps type of description, if that makes any sense. ;P

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  23. Those are amazing pictures! They look like something out of Fantasy.

    How would I describe it? Hmm . . .

    The ancient trees were laced with white gossamer.

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  24. Thanks for all the great description. You guys are super!

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  25. Love that Stephen King quote. He's so wise.

    Cotton candy trees, webbed trees, cocooned trees.

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  26. Great post. Stephen King is a genius! Wow, those photos are fantastic. Wraith-like trees. Fog embraced. (I know it's spiderwebs, though!)

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  27. I doing the same thing as I re-read the Harry Potter series. I slow down and really notice all the nuances. Going slow and really appreciating the detail of everything. And I believe this will help me to become a better writer too.

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  28. I'll say "these trees look like a row of Miss Havishams on a really bad day"! Oh feeble but these trees covered up by the webbing are totally awesome!!! Take care
    x

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  29. Hey Lee! Just signed up. You let me know when and I'd be happy to host you. Wow to those pics. Awesome!
    And I've been struggling with description myself and wondering how to find that perfect balance. It sure is tricky... and Mr King is a genius at it. That man never ceases to impress me with his stories.

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  30. Awesome photos. Looks beautiful yet at the same time eerie and wild.

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  31. Veiled in cobwebs? I liked the Miss Havisham reference – very clever or as Lexa said Eeww.

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