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There are 2 Kinds of Authors

Guilrel

Active Member
One that is very descriptive to help the readers "see" what's going on in their story and the other that likes to let their readers do most of the imagining. Which one are you?


I'm of the first variety, the reason: I'd like to help those who don't lack that much imagination see better... Aaaaaaaaannnnd I also don't want them to misinterpret some things. ^^; So what about you fellow authors?
 

Torph

New Member
I'm a bit of both, but most of the time the second one you mention. I like when people can interpret the text differently... But as you say, one has to be careful so people don't get the wrong picture entirely.
I just wish I had some time nowadays to write more. Sadly I don't.
 

Ursa Maximus

New Member
I think above all else, an author should stick to what they're best at. Writing engaging visual description is probably one of the harder literary skills, so for most authors, less is more. But if you stubbornly want to get deep into it, there are definitely not just two types. There aren't even just two ends to the spectrum of visual description.


None: The wolf stood in front of an office building.
The office building is not described, only named in a sentence about something else. It could look like anything. Who cares. This is not a choice to scoff at. It's the easiest way to not screw up!

Vague: The office building was grand and imposing.
The office building has just an adjective or two flavoring it. Three artists would produce three very different pictures but maybe this is all the reader needs to know. The words do double duty, offering both visual and emotional content, while the text stays light and easy to read.

Factual: The office building was three stories tall, the façade mostly glass, situated in the center of a large parking lot.
Though far from complete as a description, everyone is imagining pretty much the same thing. Sterile though, no emotional content. If this goes on for paragraphs or if you do it too often, readers are gonna die of boredom.

Evocative: The office building looked cheap, like the kind of place you'd see on the news after a storm had torn off its roof.
No visual description is given but you can practically smell this place, with its damp air and moldy drywall. Hear the buzz of fluorescent lights. How clearly your vision comes through is a function of your skill as an author and the life experiences of your readers. So this type of description can easily miss the mark.

Metaphorical: The massive office building opened its mouth, consuming a stream of suited businessmen.
Who cares what this place looks like, it's eating people to survive, man. Abolish the wage system. Prepare for readers to roll their eyes if you ham it up too badly.

Vivid: The office building stood, majestic, inconceivably tall, its upper floors cloaked in resplendent, gossamer clouds.
You can do great things by piling a bunch of multisyllabic words on top of one another until you evoke exactly want you want, both visually and emotionally. But again, you're going to lose readers who just plain don't know the words you're using or, even worse, maybe you don't know the words you're using as well as you should.


I guess I shoot for a mixture of whatever seems right at the time, then edit aggressively until every single word is working in service of the story.
 

BadRoy

Snake awakens
As a Virgo I have a tendency to be overly descriptive. My writing must sound dry and 'methodical' which I don't like and I try to avoid.
 

Guilrel

Active Member
I'm a bit of both, but most of the time the second one you mention. I like when people can interpret the text differently... But as you say, one has to be careful so people don't get the wrong picture entirely.
I just wish I had some time nowadays to write more. Sadly I don't.

Quite busy with whatever's happening in real life aren't you? I know the feeling.
 

Guilrel

Active Member
I think above all else, an author should stick to what they're best at. Writing engaging visual description is probably one of the harder literary skills, so for most authors, less is more. But if you stubbornly want to get deep into it, there are definitely not just two types. There aren't even just two ends to the spectrum of visual description.


None: The wolf stood in front of an office building.
The office building is not described, only named in a sentence about something else. It could look like anything. Who cares. This is not a choice to scoff at. It's the easiest way to not screw up!

Vague: The office building was grand and imposing.
The office building has just an adjective or two flavoring it. Three artists would produce three very different pictures but maybe this is all the reader needs to know. The words do double duty, offering both visual and emotional content, while the text stays light and easy to read.

Factual: The office building was three stories tall, the façade mostly glass, situated in the center of a large parking lot.
Though far from complete as a description, everyone is imagining pretty much the same thing. Sterile though, no emotional content. If this goes on for paragraphs or if you do it too often, readers are gonna die of boredom.

Evocative: The office building looked cheap, like the kind of place you'd see on the news after a storm had torn off its roof.
No visual description is given but you can practically smell this place, with its damp air and moldy drywall. Hear the buzz of fluorescent lights. How clearly your vision comes through is a function of your skill as an author and the life experiences of your readers. So this type of description can easily miss the mark.

Metaphorical: The massive office building opened its mouth, consuming a stream of suited businessmen.
Who cares what this place looks like, it's eating people to survive, man. Abolish the wage system. Prepare for readers to roll their eyes if you ham it up too badly.

Vivid: The office building stood, majestic, inconceivably tall, its upper floors cloaked in resplendent, gossamer clouds.
You can do great things by piling a bunch of multisyllabic words on top of one another until you evoke exactly want you want, both visually and emotionally. But again, you're going to lose readers who just plain don't know the words you're using or, even worse, maybe you don't know the words you're using as well as you should.


I guess I shoot for a mixture of whatever seems right at the time, then edit aggressively until every single word is working in service of the story.

Actually what wrote are mostly just subparts of the first one. But you're right an author should stick with what they know best. Those examples should really help some people out in the long run though.
 

Guilrel

Active Member
As a Virgo I have a tendency to be overly descriptive. My writing must sound dry and 'methodical' which I don't like and I try to avoid.

I have a feeling that this isn't true, but that depends on when you think your descriptions are too much. Maybe a friend of yours might be able to tell a bit better.
 

Chicory

New Member
I try to use as much as needed to lead. Readers aren't dumb. They won't get confused if they don't know things like what brand of jeans someone is wearing, every action on the way out of the house, or every article of clothing they have on them, unless something relevant is left out.

Reading is an exercise in imagination for those rare few who might get lost without. It's good for people in a modern world where we're used to having so much spoon-fed to see different types of imagination and to have to think of their own interpretation sometimes.
 
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Gnarl

The Arcane Sage
I love descriptions, but when I am in doubt and being a visual artist I illustrate with a painting! I find that color can set a mood as well as words. Rather than spend pages on what a character looks like, I illustrate, and then spend my words to tell what the character is like, personality, attitude and such. I do not over illustrate however. Some things are best left up to the reader, it draws them deeper into the story.
 

Half-Note

Member
I like to leave clues around here and there while also allowing a conclusion of the story, since I believe it lets the type of reader that wants to see an end get his satisfaction, while also letting the type of reader that likes to study all aspects of a story get his. In my opinion this gives the story an end, but it also has clues leading to other conclusions as well.
 

BadRoy

Snake awakens
I have a feeling that this isn't true, but that depends on when you think your descriptions are too much. Maybe a friend of yours might be able to tell a bit better.
What I mean is that I overthink descriptions and they turn out clunky. I've read stories which were terribly written, but somehow managed physical description far more skillfully than I do. Got to work on it.
 

Art Vulpine

Art Vulpine
I give basic descriptions of characters and scenery but allow the reader to paint their own descriptions in their minds. I also use simile and metaphor to add to the descriptions.
 

Duality Jack

Feeling Loki with it.
One that is very descriptive to help the readers "see" what's going on in their story and the other that likes to let their readers do most of the imagining. Which one are you?


I'm of the first variety, the reason: I'd like to help those who don't lack that much imagination see better... Aaaaaaaaannnnd I also don't want them to misinterpret some things. ^^; So what about you fellow authors?
I thought the two types are the ones who say they write, and the ones who actually write.


I personally plan in depth the world, the mechanics and politics of the world, and the ideas and themes I want to communicate, and weave the tale to explore, and demonstrate the world. Usually means I seek to create ideas or environments that are not:
A: Overplayed
B: Simple and shallow
C: Focused on Social drama.

I just focus on Intrigue, vivid description, exploration of worlds, and often a moral or political manifesto hidden inside with it's implications, both positive and negative explored effectively and in a way that could be said to be realistic.

Four hundred pages of material, some story, other notes, and cross information for one potential novel (Near future, exploring unification of man kind before humanity steps out of earth's cradle, themed on post demand, unified law, and the tech, war, and political shift that aids it), roughly sixty for the other which is focused on a world of warring city states in which magic is built around a system I am building to break old archetypes and create something fresh in fantasy.
 
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KaninZ

New Member
It's the difference between an author like Stephen King or Robert Jordan and Robert Heinlein or David Brin. King and Jordan can both spend five pages describing a room that's only inhabited for one or two paragraphs in the story arc. It's great scene building and lends credence to the viability of the world/setting, but can become rather pedantic after a few chapters. When it's masterfully done (as those two can do) it's wonderful reading. If it's repetitive, it tends to make the story drag.

My own preference is usually a tersely written tale that grabs you and pulls you along like Startide Rising from Brin and pretty much everything from Heinlein.
 

tjecce

New Member
As many before me I would say that I'm a bit of both, in the sense that I really enjoy over analyzing petty details for my own sake and write long, far too long descriptions of it for myself. Most of this usually don't make it into the actual text though. But since I have the bad habit of staying at the stage of writing "research" for myself I would say that I'm leaning towards the first category.
 
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