“This topic is a series. From time to time, I will be dishing out practical advice based on my writing experiences that have worked for me.”
*Watch a movie/video
One of the best description scenes I’ve enjoyed pulling off came from watching a 3-second part of a scene in a movie. In my mind I had an idea of what this scene should look like in my book but time and again it remained too foggy to describe on paper or screen what I saw in my mind. The general idea just kept floating in my mind but never letting me grasp it, it was so frustrating.
I’m sure you writers know what I’m talking about.
I experienced this untamable fog while trying to describe a large property in my book. I went ahead and finished the manuscript hoping that by then I would have developed the description well enough to do a satisfactory job but this fog just plain refused to give way. Well, I had to get on somehow if I would declare the manuscript properly finished, and I couldn’t leave that scene that introduced the property to the character for the first time without describing this property from her point of view. It simply had to be done. There was no way around it. So what did I do?
While I was worrying about this problem (for days), I settled down one day to watch a movie. Then along came this scene. A part of the scene was captured from a wonderful perspective that immediately jolted me. It was the closest I had seen of what I had in my mind. But the scene lasted only about three seconds. No matter. I backtracked and paused at the exact part of the scene. It was perfect! It didn’t represent exactly what I had in mind, but it was more than enough raw material for me to build with. I left that movie on pause and grabbed a pen and paper and got to work immediately. Ever since, I’ve maintained that a movie or video is a great source or aid for a writer’s description purposes.
Even if you’re not a movie person, there are thousands of videos on youtube that with a keyword, you could search for videos to help with your work.
A movie or video is very helpful when you are trying to describe something that you know is large but with a lot of details that your mind can’t conceive to the level that the scene requires. In my case, it was a large property. When you find yourself in this position, don’t sweat it. Find a video/movie with a scene that best represents what you have in mind. Take your time and describe it in as much detail as you can see. Then put away the movie/video and start to trim your work until you have a tightly knitted description in as few sentences as possible, so that your writing is dense enough to create a vivid picture in the mind of a reader, and short enough so that it doesn’t distract them from the story. And of course, it is always best to weave what you’re eventually able to glean with the events in the scene so that your description does a double duty of carrying along the story as well.
For example: The grandeur of the mansion sent a shiver up Cindy’s spine. She couldn’t help sensing the beautifully carved French shuttles and gothic columns dipped their brows at her, making her feel simple and inadequate.
Notice I didn’t step out of the story to describe anything. I stated that the mansion was magnificent, that it had French shuttles and gothic columns. But I managed to weave her feelings and emotions into it. Remember that a POV (point-of-view) of a character is never really complete without expressing the emotions/monologue of the character in question. You would do well to weave it with the perception of the five sense organs: eyes, ears, nose, skin and tongue.
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