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  • Yes, they make up their metaphors and similes. I'll check out their books later. Often when they read their short stories or poems,

    They may have a place in poetry because it's poetry! But they should perhaps be avoided in fiction because many people may not understand what they mean. Is it not best to just say what you mean so that everyone understands it?

    Well, yes and no. "Less is more," as Mies van der Rohe rightly said, meaning "Keep it simple." But saying that "The flower was red" is certainly less vivid than "The flower was as red as blood"...especially if such a simile is used to perhaps reflect someone's state of mind or set the mood of the scene.

    Talking about the use of color to set a mood reminded me for some reason of the opening paragraphs of The Wizard of Oz, in which Frank L. Baum used the repetition of the word "grey" to create a very effective cumulative image and mood. These are the 2nd, 3rd and 4th paragraphs of the novel:

    When Dorothy stood in the doorway and looked around, she could see nothing but the great gray prairie on every side. Not a tree nor a house broke the broad sweep of flat country that reached to the edge of the sky in all directions. The sun had baked the plowed land into a gray mass, with little cracks running through it. Even the grass was not green, for the sun had burned the tops of the long blades until they were the same gray color to be seen everywhere. Once the house had been painted, but the sun blistered the paint and the rains washed it away, and now the house was as dull and gray as everything else.

    When Aunt Em came there to live she was a young, pretty wife. The sun and wind had changed her, too. They had taken the sparkle from her eyes and left them a sober gray; they had taken the red from her cheeks and lips, and they were gray also. She was thin and gaunt, and never smiled now. When Dorothy, who was an orphan, first came to her, Aunt Em had been so startled by the child’s laughter that she would scream and press her hand upon her heart whenever Dorothy’s merry voice reached her ears; and she still looked at the little girl with wonder that she could find anything to laugh at.

    Uncle Henry never laughed. He worked hard from morning till night and did not know what joy was. He was gray also, from his long beard to his rough boots, and he looked stern and solemn, and rarely spoke.

    No wonder the opening scenes of the movie were in B&W!

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  • A few hours glided by as Patsy did her research. Suddenly[,] she felt a tap on her shoulder. Turning round, she saw the middle-aged librarian glaring at her. "We're closed[,] young woman," she said, pointing to the clock.

    I see no problem with saying middle-aged woman, if that's what she looked like. I see no harm in that second comma either, people do talk like that, it's a hesitation. 

  • Anyway, what I was thinking, was change it all. Well, move it around a bit.

    This section is horror and horror works best as a helterskelter.

    A bit of trepidation on the bus, but gone when the man gets off.

    A Lone girl at night walking in the street. She's a bit fearfull again, but relieved when she gets in to the library.

    A bit of fear again as she walks to her flat, and include those following footsteps, which stop. Fear gone when she closes the door behind her.

    Make people think that something is about to happen but does not.

    Do nice normal actions in the flat for a bit, but he's hiding in there and this time something does happen ...


    and so on.



  • A few hours glided by as Patsy did her research. Suddenly[,] she felt a tap on her shoulder. Turning round, she saw the middle-aged librarian glaring at her. "We're closed[,] young woman," she said, pointing to the clock.

    I see no problem with saying middle-aged woman, if that's what she looked like. I see no harm in that second comma either, people do talk like that, it's a hesitation. 

    Mentioning the age of the librarian just seemed an irrelevant detail that didn’t add anything particularly significant to the scene, especially since she evidently never appears again. Unless it really makes a difference knowing what her age is, I would streamline the paragraph by leaving it out.

    If, for instance, Larika wants to suggest that the older woman was looking at the much younger Patsy judgementally, then she might expand on the description a little further. Perhaps by saying that “she saw the librarian, a grey-haired older woman, glaring at her disapprovingly.” Something like that would add some purpose to the description.
    __________________________________________
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  • Mentioning the age of the librarian just seemed an irrelevant detail that didn’t add anything particularly significant to the scene, especially since she evidently never appears again. Unless it really makes a difference knowing what her age is, I would streamline the paragraph by leaving it out.

    It's 'reality,' why would she not notice her perceived age? It just adds a bit of depth. I am sure you notice details and even think about people you just glance at, never to see again?

    If, for instance, Larika wants to suggest that the older woman was looking at the much younger Patsy judgementally, then she might expand on the description a little further. Perhaps by saying that “she saw the librarian, a grey-haired older woman, glaring at her disapprovingly.” Something like that would add some purpose to the description.

    One could add that too. More depth. The reader has no idea if such details are relevant or not. They may be, or they may just be red herrings. It's a story, not brief news report.

  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    edited December 2018
    Thank you both for your suggestions. I've made a few alterations. Art was so much easier --SIGH.  
  • I like the new version much better. I think you're getting the hang of it. Ron has given pointers on some of the small issues, but it's much more like a story and less like a police report. I'd keep going, and when you get through, start over and read it again. Add a bit, adjust a bit, trim a bit, as you see things that need more work.

    But you're on the right track. Bravo!
  • So what about my idea?

    Suspense can be good, in moderation. But we've all seen so many movies with the noise that turns out to be the cat... And then JUMP-SCARE!! that frankly, I'm tired of it.

    So... suspense in moderation...
  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    edited December 2018
    Thank you for your kind words of encouragement Skoob. 
    PS. I just wrote a short story for my writing group about a South African girl in the 60's and I must admit it sounded like a newspaper article. So I wrote it again trying to "show" not "tell."  I am still vague about that. I think I just made it more descriptive. Anyway I read both versions to a journalist friend and he preferred the one more like a newspaper article.  C'est la vie! To each his own.
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited December 2018
    Skoob_ym said:

    So what about my idea?

    Suspense can be good, in moderation. But we've all seen so many movies with the noise that turns out to be the cat... And then JUMP-SCARE!! that frankly, I'm tired of it.

    So... suspense in moderation...
    I agree. That's why I was having some problems with the character Patsy sees on the bus. He seemed to be such an ominous presence that I expected more to come of him. Realizing that he was just a throw-away character, I suggested that perhaps Larika might use Patsy's discomfort at seeing this person to develop the idea that Patsy might be very nervous or paranoid about something, seeing negative or sinister things in the people around her that might really just be a reflection of an overactive imagination or the memory of some bad experience she'd had. This drove my suggestion that Larika rewrite the sentence describing the librarian this way:  “She saw the librarian, a grey-haired older woman, glaring at her disapprovingly.” It gets into Patsy's mind a little.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Larika said:
    Thank you for your kind words of encouragement Skoob. 
    PS. I just wrote a short story for my writing group about a South African girl in the 60's and I must admit it sounded like a newspaper article. So I wrote it again trying to "show" not "tell."  I am still vague about that. I think I just made it more descriptive. Anyway I read both versions to a journalist friend and he preferred the one more like a newspaper article.  C'est la vie! To each his own.
    Well, I can see why a journalist might feel that way!  ;)
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited December 2018
    Larika said:
    Thank you for your kind words of encouragement Skoob. 
    PS. I just wrote a short story for my writing group about a South African girl in the 60's and I must admit it sounded like a newspaper article. So I wrote it again trying to "show" not "tell."  I am still vague about that. I think I just made it more descriptive. 
    Just try to keep in mind that descriptions should have a purpose, helping to create a mood, personality or setting. There is no need to describe everything, which should make things a little easier for you. For instance, you don't have to say something like, "Patsy sat down in the brown wooden chair, leaned over the desk with the yellow formica top, picked up her yellow Ticonderoga #2 pencil with the slightly used eraser on one end and started writing on the white, blue-lined sheet of paper with three holes punched down one side so she could later insert it in her red cloth-bound three-ring binder with the Pikachu sticker glued to the front cover."

    But if the room is dingy and dark, the furniture old and worn, the only light coming through an unwashed window...describing that sort of thing can help create a cumulative mental picture as well as a mood. And, really, just a little can go a long way.
    __________________________________________
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  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    edited December 2018
    It's what to leave out that's the challenge Ron. When you start down that path you can get carried away and it begins to sound ridiculous. You said you once painted some minimalist covers and it's so much easier to write in a more minimalist style, like my first version of the rape. Also I have to admit I think my second version was just more descriptive. How was it "showing."? I described what Patsy wore to go to the library. I described her journey culminating after further description, in a description of her rape and her journey back to her room and what she did there. I could have made it even more descriptive. I don't lack the vocabulary. By my descriptions of the above did I paint a picture of Patsy's character, like an artist does when s/he paints a portrait? Could you see the scene outside, which you would see so clearly if it was painted? Is showing just describing, but not just using adjectives. I could say Patsy has a pretty face, easy, but does that paint a picture of Patsy? I think not! However I could describe Patsy in more detail, her hair, her eyes etc, even use similes or metaphors,  so you would have a clear picture of her. Isn't that just using description? 
     Yes, you caught "too many thens." Perfectly true.  :)  
  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    edited December 2018
     Hemingway, as a writer was a minimalist. As he once said  “Boiling it down always rather than spreading it out thin.”  He felt that if he "wrote the truth well, his readers would be able to visualize his story without being “spoon fed.”. He usually used short sentences  and valued the truth which he found  powerful and  sharp and to the point. This is a good piece of his descriptive writing. 
    For Whom the Bell Tolls: “Then, through the hammering of the gun, there was the whistle of the air splitting apart and then in the red black roar the earth rolled under his knees and then waved up to hit him in the face and then dirt and bits of rock were falling all over and Ignacio was lying on him and the gun was lying on him. But he was not dead because the whistle came again and the earth lurched under his belly and one side of the hilltop rose into the air and then fell slowly over them where they lay.”  A lot of "thens" though!  :) 
  • Think of those descriptive words he used! The "hammering" of the guns, the "whistle" of air being "split apart," the "red black roar" of an explosion...all of these are very evocative and add materially to the mood of the scene. He could have said, "There was gunfire and the sound of bullets and then an explosion," but he wasn't depending entirely on his reader's imaginations to fill in the vivid details.


    __________________________________________
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  • Larika said:
    It's what to leave out that's the challenge Ron. When you start down that path you can get carried away and it begins to sound ridiculous. You said you once painted some minimalist covers and it's so much easier to write in a more minimalist style, like my first version of the rape. Also I have to admit I think my second version was just more descriptive. How was it "showing."? I described what Patsy wore to go to the library. I described her journey culminating after further description, in a description of her rape and her journey back to her room and what she did there. I could have made it even more descriptive. I don't lack the vocabulary. By my descriptions of the above did I paint a picture of Patsy's character, like an artist does when s/he paints a portrait? Could you see the scene outside, which you would see so clearly if it was painted? Is showing just describing, but not just using adjectives. I could say Patsy has a pretty face, easy, but does that paint a picture of Patsy? I think not! However I could describe Patsy in more detail, her hair, her eyes etc, even use similes or metaphors,  so you would have a clear picture of her. Isn't that just using description? 
     Yes, you caught "too many thens." Perfectly true.  :)  
    The "what to leave out" is a great point. You might try this: Write the story -- make it as descriptive as you want. When it seems like you could go either way, choose the more descriptive option. Then scan for over-used words, and if necessary, apply a thesaurus (that's a dinosaur that knows lots of words). Don't overdo the thesaurus, but use it to keep Moazagotl from being every fifth word.

    Then set it aside for a few weeks/months or even up to a year. On bringing the story out to the light, without the "heat of composition" looking over your shoulder, you can then judge the story as if someone else wrote it. You can mark (and then later fix) any parts that are clunky, overly-descriptive, or irrelevant.

    As you go, take things out. If it's not necessary, scrap it. There's no reason to describe her stepping into a butcher shop and shuddering at the displays there (unless there is) so drop that scene (not that you have one). Etc.

    Where there seems to be a jolting transition, write a segue. And so on.

    And when you're done you'll have a pretty good story.

    But if you try to edit as you go, you'll find yourself going back and forth over a line or a paragraph -- is it in, is it out, was it better the other way? No, write it first, then step back and give yourself perspective to edit it.
  • Think of those descriptive words he used! The "hammering" of the guns, the "whistle" of air being "split apart," the "red black roar" of an explosion...all of these are very evocative and add materially to the mood of the scene. He could have said, "There was gunfire and the sound of bullets and then an explosion," but he wasn't depending entirely on his reader's imaginations to fill in the vivid details.


    It is a nice bit of writing, and part of what makes it so good is that you can relate to it. Even if you have never heard an incoming shell, that "air being split apart" is an imaginable idea. And then, not as one imagines shells exploding and vaporizing everything, boom, he instead has the ground lurch up in the "red black roar" -- this gives you the immediate sensation that he felt, and puts it into the context of overwhelming force, overwhelming sensation, "red black" because it defies better description.

    It places the reader on the field, and it entrains the reader's consciousness into the story. And that, imho, is what makes good writing.
  • Suspense can be good, in moderation. But we've all seen so many movies with the noise that turns out to be the cat... And then JUMP-SCARE!! that frankly, I'm tired of it.

    So... suspense in moderation...

    Tell that to the people who do obviously enjoy it. Not that I am one.

  • That's why I was having some problems with the character Patsy sees on the bus. He seemed to be such an ominous presence that I expected more to come of him. Realizing that he was just a throw-away character, I suggested that perhaps Larika might use Patsy's discomfort at seeing this person to develop the idea that Patsy might be very nervous or paranoid about something, seeing negative or sinister things in the people around her that might really just be a reflection of an overactive imagination or the memory of some bad experience she'd had. This drove my suggestion that Larika rewrite the sentence describing the librarian this way:  “She saw the librarian, a grey-haired older woman, glaring at her disapprovingly.” It gets into Patsy's mind a little.

    Is that not what I suggested?  And she has reason to be somewhat paranoid. Young lady, on her own, at night, partly on a bus, that's how many women feel. Put yourself in to her mind. BECOME her, and write it.

  • Well, I can see why a journalist might feel that way!

    Indeed! They have to work to very tight page spaces, using limited words, and even then their editor may slash some out to save space.

  • Just try to keep in mind that descriptions should have a purpose,

    Such as drawing the reader in to the story? Making it seem more natural?

     helping to create a mood, personality or setting.

    But that's true, so it would be hard to think of a description that does not have a purpose  :)

     There is no need to describe everything, which should make things a little easier for you.

    Some writers do go OTT. I am currently reading a Terry Brooks story and there's far too many instances of Get on with it!  He does ramble off across entire pages with stuff that is not totally relevant.

  • It's what to leave out that's the challenge Ron. When you start down that path you can get carried away and it begins to sound ridiculous. You said you once painted some minimalist covers and it's so much easier to write in a more minimalist style, like my first version of the rape.

    Indeed it is, but does that make a good story? "Just the facts, mam, just the facts".

     Also I have to admit I think my second version was just more descriptive.

    Only as seen by a 'bystander.' What was in her mind?

     How was it "showing."? I described what Patsy wore to go to the library. I described her journey culminating after further description, in a description of her rape and her journey back to her room and what she did there. I could have made it even more descriptive. I don't lack the vocabulary. By my descriptions of the above did I paint a picture of Patsy's character, like an artist does when s/he paints a portrait? Could you see the scene outside, which you would see so clearly if it was painted? Is showing just describing, but not just using adjectives. I could say Patsy has a pretty face, easy, but does that paint a picture of Patsy? I think not! However I could describe Patsy in more detail, her hair, her eyes etc, even use similes or metaphors,  so you would have a clear picture of her. Isn't that just using description?

    What you pasted in is quite a way in to the story, so by now the reader should have an idea of what she looks like and her personality. Not to mention her conception, birth and growing up? (She's a baby on the cover is she not?)

    Ron is right that one should not go OTT with describing everything, but what she wears, and what is in her room is part of that personality also.

  • Think of those descriptive words he used! The "hammering" of the guns, the "whistle" of air being "split apart," the "red black roar" of an explosion...all of these are very evocative and add materially to the mood of the scene. He could have said, "There was gunfire and the sound of bullets and then an explosion," but he wasn't depending entirely on his reader's imaginations to fill in the vivid details.

    I don't know about that, because I would have heard and seen The "hammering" of the guns, the "whistle" of air being "split apart," the "red black roar" of an explosion in my mind as I read those words. The use of those words are very emotive and exactly descriptive, even though I personally could imagine them without them, not everyone is a 'visualizer'

    visualiser - one whose prevailing mental imagery is visual

    and need help via the text because they are only hearing words in their minds.

    "A picture paints a 1000s words," and the opposite is also true.

  • The "what to leave out" is a great point. You might try this: Write the story -- make it as descriptive as you want. When it seems like you could go either way, choose the more descriptive option. Then scan for over-used words, and if necessary, apply a thesaurus (that's a dinosaur that knows lots of words). Don't overdo the thesaurus, but use it to keep Moazagotl from being every fifth word.

    Indeed, but if most writers a like me, I will write a chapter or two, then read them over a dozen times, adjusting and fiddling where required. Then once I reach the conclusion, I will do the same over the entire thing.

    Then set it aside for a few weeks/months or even up to a year. On bringing the story out to the light, without the "heat of composition" looking over your shoulder, you can then judge the story as if someone else wrote it. You can mark (and then later fix) any parts that are clunky, overly-descriptive, or irrelevant.

    Indeed (part 2.)

    As you go, take things out. If it's not necessary, scrap it.

    Gosh, I have quite a few unfinished stories, that I may never go back to!

     There's no reason to describe her stepping into a butcher shop and shuddering at the displays there (unless there is) so drop that scene (not that you have one). Etc.

    Well, if there is such a scene in some story, then it's one way of describing part of a person's personality, without actually saying it.

    Where there seems to be a jolting transition, write a segue. And so on.

    And when you're done you'll have a pretty good story.

    But if you try to edit as you go, you'll find yourself going back and forth over a line or a paragraph -- is it in, is it out, was it better the other way?

    Where's the harm in that? And it's not really Editing, it's just continuing to try to improve sections until one is convinced it is 'perfect.'

     No, write it first, then step back and give yourself perspective to edit it.

    Well, indeed, once a draft is eventually thought to be complete, then go over it a few times again.

    (I am sick of this laggy Autosave, cannot it be turned off?!! Or fix why it lags?)

  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    edited December 2018
    Some very helpful comments. Image result for thank you
    I wanted my book to be a metaphor for acceptance and tolerance of marginalized groups and the less fortunate. To be aware of differences and be more empathic. O well I'm trying! :) 
  • The words you choose to use are important in creating both a mental picture and a mood. Poe's poem, "The Bells," is a good example of where choosing specific words makes a difference. In the case of the Hemingway quote, he could have simply said, "Guns were firing" and the reader would have been free to imagine any sort of noise they cared to or thought appropriate. The guns could have been banging or booming or cracking. But Hemingway described the sound as "hammering," which carries more than just an image of the sound itself. There is the suggestion of rapid repetitiveness, for instance, and perhaps the hard sharpness of the sound the guns made. There is also the suggestion of relentless persistence, as when you say that someone is "hammering home a point." Hemingway, like any good author, did not choose his words carelessly but instead for the precise point and sensation he hope to create in the mind of his reader.

    So, when you choose the words for your similes and metaphors, keep in mind the impression you are hoping to make. For instance, you might describe a woman as wearing a "threadbare" dress. This gives a different impression than saying that the dress is "shabby," "decrepit" or "shoddy," all of which are synonyms but carry different shades of meaning. Also keep in mind the cumulative effect you want to create. For instance, if you are trying to describe someone who is depressed you might want to give them "dull blue eyes" instead of "bright blue eyes," or someone who is world-weary might have a "drooping" mustache rather than a neatly trimmed or bristling one. Each descriptive phrase you use should add up to a whole impression of the person, place or thing. For example, if someone is depressed and beaten down, their clothes might be described as rumply and unironed, their faces grey, their eyes lusterless, etc., with each adjective, simile or metaphor contributing to the entire mental image you want to create.

    And don't forget how carefully and deliberately Frank Baum used the repetition of the word "grey" over and over again to establish the mood and setting of the Gale homestead in Kansas. That was hammering a point to great effect.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • The words you choose to use are important in creating both a mental picture and a mood. Poe's poem, "The Bells," is a good example of where choosing specific words makes a difference.

    Indeed but he was a master, and owned a good thesaurus.  :)

     In the case of the Hemingway quote, he could have simply said, "Guns were firing" and the reader would have been free to imagine any sort of noise they cared to or thought appropriate. The guns could have been banging or booming or cracking. But Hemingway described the sound as "hammering," which carries more than just an image of the sound itself.

    Quite so. But the perpetual sound can cause shell-shock.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shell_shock

     If anyone wants to know what WW1 was really like, watch 'Thou shall not grow old.'

    https://www.filminquiry.com/they-shall-not-grow-old-2018-review/

     There is the suggestion of rapid repetitiveness, for instance, and perhaps the hard sharpness of the sound the guns made. There is also the suggestion of relentless persistence, as when you say that someone is "hammering home a point." Hemingway, like any good author, did not choose his words carelessly but instead for the precise point and sensation he hope to create in the mind of his reader.

    Well, it is a commonly used word for such repetitiveness. So he used a word people would understand.

    So, when you choose the words for your similes and metaphors, keep in mind the impression you are hoping to make. For instance, you might describe a woman as wearing a "threadbare" dress. This gives a different impression than saying that the dress is "shabby," "decrepit" or "shoddy," all of which are synonyms but carry different shades of meaning.

    If you cannot make them up, then avoid them because they are used too often. 'As bold as brass.'

     Also keep in mind the cumulative effect you want to create. For instance, if you are trying to describe someone who is depressed you might want to give them "dull blue eyes" instead of "bright blue eyes,"

    The former could just be a sign of physical illness. The eye itself only has one way to show emotion so I have no idea why writers insist that they do. What are expressive are the muscles around the eyes, eyelids and brows for example.

     or someone who is world-weary might have a "drooping" mustache rather than a neatly trimmed or bristling one.

    But it could be drooping simply because that's their style, not a depiction of mood.

    See the source image

     Each descriptive phrase you use should add up to a whole impression of the person, place or thing. For example, if someone is depressed and beaten down, their clothes might be described as rumply and unironed, their faces grey, their eyes lusterless, etc., with each adjective, simile or metaphor contributing to the entire mental image you want to create.

    All very overused in fiction, and you could describe me as ' rumply and unironed' but I am not depressed or beaten down. If their faces are grey it means they are ill (or zombies.) Same with eyes.

    And don't forget how carefully and deliberately Frank Baum used the repetition of the word "grey" over and over again to establish the mood and setting of the Gale homestead in Kansas. That was hammering a point to great effect.

    Or a boring over-use of just one word? Further opinions >>

    http://theeditorsblog.net/2010/07/05/the-power-of-repetition/

    https://fictionwritingtools.blogspot.com/2015/03/overused-words-in-fiction-writetip.html

    https://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/5-ways-to-deal-with-word-repetition


  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    edited December 2018
    If I do manage to rewrite the book, bearing in mind all the helpful comments I have been given here, I might have a really good novel. My first task is that awful opening chapter. I have started!!
    As Booker T Washington said, "success is not measured by heights obtained but by obstacles overcome."
  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile
    edited December 2018
    Do they make metaphors up? Do you have some examples?
    Kevin, here are some examples of metaphors and similes used by my writing group.
    ""leaves like migrating birds winging across foreign skies." "bloated clouds". ""Discontented winter split the earth." "The air dances, spring's white dress flicks back raindrops, as we speed through cloudy puddles." "My yellow scarf, gusts and eddies, a parachute silky in the wind." "gimleted eyes". "cooked like a well basted turkey." "tourists like flocks of butterflies." "a frenzied road." "harlequin pencils". "the cover torn to its rudimentary heart in places and its maroon surface blistered." I could go on. :)
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