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Tirien
Tirien
Posts: 157
Joined: March 23rd, 2014, 4:51 pm
Tirien

Looking for Tips

Postby Tirien » November 25th, 2014, 1:44 am

Heya Ravenholdt/TNether (or at least those from TN who visit)!

I'm trying to improve my writing skills and feel like I'm making progress. I've cut down my adverb abuse and have been struggling with this new thing called "Character's Perspective".

I can write what a character does, like their actions and the reactions of others and of the environment, but trying to include the Character's perspective of the world around them is...confusing. How do I express this?

Likewise I am trying to "Show" instead of "Tell" as the narrator. I constantly catch myself "Telling" the reader "Her hair is bouncy" (as an example) when I've been told there is a better way to convey that. I agree. "Telling" rather than "Showing" is bland. By "Showing" I mean...uh...not...just telling the audience as the narrator and instead "Show" the audience the thing in a way that is...interesting...? This is also a concept that baffles me as no matter what I type, it's still me, the Narrator, "Telling" the audience. I suppose I'm at a loss on how to "Tell" with evidence within the story other than my word as the Narrator.

Any/all input is welcome. If you need examples of what I've typed up so far, search for posts made by "Verin", "Tirien", or "Rhork.

Thanks gals/guys!
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Thomas Jarington
Thomas Jarington
Posts: 210
Joined: April 8th, 2014, 10:55 am
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
Thomas Jarington

Re: Looking for Tips

Postby Thomas Jarington » November 25th, 2014, 3:21 am

Something I might offer regards tense, which might help in perspective.

Example from the Clockwork Tiger post Verin made. it's split between two paragraphs. One ends and another picks up:

...Twenty tigers had been confiscated and relocated to be dismantled. The Priest thought that at that pace, the tigers would be cleared out of the city in no time. Today, Verin had chosen the Cathedral District for its density during the Day of the Dead to try and secure as many of the dangerous devices as he could.

The District is packed with a full array of ages and races...


The past tense is highlighted in the first portion. tigers had been confiscated, and Verin had chosen the Cathedral District. It gives the feeling as if the story happened sometime earlier, and falls in line with the rest of the thread.

Then, the perspective shifts to a present tense with the very next sentence. Also highlighted. This has a jarring effect for a reader (me anyway), as I feel like I've been seeing a story from afar, then pulled into the midst as if it were happening in that very moment.

By sticking with one tense throughout, you can then capture your showing with a bit more ease. In other words, do you show the action as if it's already happened: "Verin's hair bounced like a buffalo on a basin-sized trampoline, flinging strands in every direction with every step he took." Past Tense.

Or present tense: "Verin steps, his hair flies - flinging itself into the air like a buffalo on a basin-sized trampoline." Present Tense.

For the action, I used a descriptive metaphor to create an image of what the hair looked like to me as Verin walked. It was quick, in the moment and with not too much thought. In other words, don't slam the image. It's late! LOL

Linking an image to an action creates a lasting visual inside of a readers mind, thus bringing it to life and making it important. Sometimes, I believe, telling is just fine - especially if it's not anything you require the reader to remember, or it's not too important to the story.

But if it's important, showing is the way to go. Consider your fabulous drawings of characters. How would you describe them to a blind person? How would you explain the sexiness of Shana in such a way that the person can see what you have drawn? Or the way Grathier holds his cigarette? You draw it in such a way that one can almost smell the smoke. Describe it the same way with words.

Writing is the same thing: drawing with words. Put your drawing skills to use in showing your characters in action, and you'll do very well.

And stick to one tense, and one voice in your works. Switching causes headaches. Me, anyway.

Cheers!

EDIT: Here is a terrific book I've read : Word Painting
Last edited by Thomas Jarington on November 25th, 2014, 3:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Cerestal
Cerestal
Posts: 48
Joined: April 4th, 2014, 8:43 am
Cerestal

Re: Looking for Tips

Postby Cerestal » November 25th, 2014, 3:24 am

I noticed this early when I was reading books, about a character's perspective rather than a narrator's perspective.

The biggest thing I noticed was simply choice of words. If your character say didn't go to school, keep the words simple. If he's a soldier, use military analogy. An engineer, add a mechanical element to thinking. If he's an artist or philosopher, write like a madman (or use metaphors and such). Try to reflect their intelligence and life experience in what they see.

Attitude is also a big one. Simple choice of words can show optimism, cynicism, fear, happiness, etc.

LEGION
LEGION
Posts: 277
Joined: March 24th, 2014, 8:25 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA
LEGION

Re: Looking for Tips

Postby LEGION » November 25th, 2014, 8:14 am

Both Cerestal and Jarrington make excellent points. The only elaboration I'll add to that at the moment is to have some adjectives in mind that describe the character to yourself. If you can do that, it should help you build the world around the character (and the character itself) in a way that conveys those adjectives over and over, without SAYing them over and over.

Example: I write Landreth very differently from either Diggsby or Verilore. For Landreth, I think things like "older, stern, uncompromising, austere" whereas Verilore is "lush, decadent, charming and beautiful". When I diverge from any of those adjectives, I try to do it for effect and to illustrate something that has jarred the character out of his or her pattern (Like when Landreth started cursing over Grathier's transfer request)

Julilee
Julilee
Posts: 124
Joined: August 24th, 2014, 2:13 pm
Julilee

Re: Looking for Tips

Postby Julilee » November 25th, 2014, 11:22 am

The tone and style when you're writing from one character's perspective is important – but so is their actual perspective. That is, you have to keep in mind not only what the character's personality is like, but how they feel and how they perceive the world. Consider things like:

– Are they very observant or not so much? Do they notice a lot of details; do they have a hard time reading other people? Don't include things the character wouldn't consciously notice or deem important. The importance of this cannot be overstated. It is jarring and confusing to the reader if you are telling them things the character wouldn't know only sometimes. Either limit the scope of description to what the character perceives, or walk back how deeply you're letting the character's tone inflect your storytelling. You can't have it both ways.

– What is their reaction to what's going on? What aren't they telling or showing the people around them? The way they describe things can be an insight when they are choosing words and actions to convey a certain impression to those around them. You can also straight up take advantage of the opportunity to share your character's inner monologue which other characters may not be aware of.
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Tirien
Tirien
Posts: 157
Joined: March 23rd, 2014, 4:51 pm
Tirien

Re: Looking for Tips

Postby Tirien » November 25th, 2014, 2:22 pm

Woah, well. Sweet.

@Jarington - That clears up so much for me. Putting it near my mindset when drawing helps and I thank you for doing that (it never occurred to me since their mediums are polar opposite almost). I think I shy away from using metaphor and simile because my high school teacher drilled it into us to avoid our writing being "flowery". The result, I guess, was me leaning way too hard on adverbs. Granted I barely wrote anything beyond college essays since then.

@Cerestal - Woah, you're pretty smart for an Elf. Lol. I think I might lean toward First Person perspective because of that very reason. I feel if it's the character being the narrator I can convey their thoughts and feelings more easily, at least to begin with. With Third Person perspective I get overwhelmed because I feel like I have to describe...EVERYTHING.

@LEGION - Man, all of my characters are so natural for me to slip into I forget having a concrete thing keeping my portrayal of them in line can help keep them on track. I put a few aspects of myself in each of my characters to help with that 'natural flow' while I RP, but for writing I'll need to do your suggestion.

@Julilee - I uh...never considered that at all, at least not consciously. I'll type something up as a test (probably for Rhork) and see how I did without thinking about it, then type it again while keeping your points in mind. Your input makes me think I'm stepping through a mine field with your mention of only putting in what the character thinks is important.
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Sisanej
Sisanej
Posts: 6
Joined: August 5th, 2014, 8:20 pm
Sisanej

Re: Looking for Tips

Postby Sisanej » November 25th, 2014, 10:30 pm

I like this thread!

These tips are amazing for serious writers.

I will not be using this wonderful advice myself, as my personality is in my clumsy writing style :D

Tirien, I cringe every time I hit the "Submit" button on my posts. There are so many gifted writers on RH that I feel like I am submitting stories written in crayon by comparison.

Apply all the advice you want to your writings, but don't lose yourself!

Tirien
Tirien
Posts: 157
Joined: March 23rd, 2014, 4:51 pm
Tirien

Re: Looking for Tips

Postby Tirien » November 25th, 2014, 11:31 pm

Sisanej wrote:I cringe every time I hit the "Submit" button on my posts. There are so many gifted writers on RH that I feel like I am submitting stories written in crayon by comparison.


Cringe with excitement! You just created something unique for others to enjoy (or hate, but honestly, who cares? You shouldn't). Also, my first post to the Sanctum was ... I think I have it saved in the dark recesses of my laptop. It still makes me groan even thinking about it. Just keep writing, creating, and posting and I mean, hey, like you said this thread is a great resource for anyone.

Sisanej wrote:Apply all the advice you want to your writings, but don't lose yourself!


In this you should have no worries at all. If anything this advice is a lens that'll help focus my take on writing, just as learning the arts helped shape my talents of that same nature.
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Thomas Jarington
Thomas Jarington
Posts: 210
Joined: April 8th, 2014, 10:55 am
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
Thomas Jarington

Re: Looking for Tips

Postby Thomas Jarington » November 26th, 2014, 4:01 pm

Cringe with excitement! You just created something unique for others to enjoy


Exactly, Sisa! Let the words fly
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Tirien
Tirien
Posts: 157
Joined: March 23rd, 2014, 4:51 pm
Tirien

Re: Looking for Tips

Postby Tirien » November 28th, 2014, 3:30 pm

My next question concerns pacing: specifically for a forum format like this. So far I haven't really been exposed to something I'd find in a novel here format wise. A vignette either starting traditionally or en medium res seems to be the most used. I'd like to get a better idea about how to pace a story on here with the latter.

My gut tells me that since it's more of a vignette style that I should focus on only what matters in the plot I have for a character. Not so much focusing on "the day to day" but focusing on points just spread out enough to not be jarring. And tips on this?
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