ayngelcat: (AC2)
[personal profile] ayngelcat
And I'm just wondering if anyone else does too, and how they have dealt with it. Very happy to take advice/counsel from experienced writers or those who are good at the following, or discuss with others who also have found these hard:

1. Similes and metaphors. This is the biggest one. I know I don't put nearly enough of them in - and they're so wonderfully effective if you can do them well. I find it hard to think of good ones, and tend to repeat things like 'his temper simmered, a bomb waiting to explode,' which I think are probably quite yawnworthy at times. I also find s's and m's in the tf universe quite challenging because you can't use the organic natural world ones as you would in humanfic. Things like 'a nascent beginning, like a bud unfurling' simply do not work!

2. Resisting the temptation to describe people's feelings in too much detail instead of letting the the reader draw their own inferences. Describing body language as opposed to saying "he felt this ..." or "he shuddered, thinking of X..." I'm getting better but I still slip up and have not quite gotten the balance right.

3. Descriptions of places. Working out how much detail you need and slipping enough in to engage the senses without it dominating all else. Sometimes I struggle with where to put descriptions in, too.

There's others, but that will do to be going on with. All views gratefully received :DDD

Date: 2013-07-02 01:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eaten-by-bears.livejournal.com
1. I was taught a really bare-bones, stripped down kind of writing, so I usually keep metaphors and similes to a minimum. Literal language can be really punchy and elegant on its own, and I find when I'm not reaching for figurative language, the figures I do come up with are a little more memorable. When I can swing it, I like to use metonymy, showing a small part of something that is literally true, but also represents a much bigger picture that the reader can infer.

If I have a POV character, I try to keep in mind what terms are available to them. So Scrapper might think of someone hard to read as a part of a blueprint that doesn't fit, and Kickback might think of them as a cube of fuel you don't realize is rancid until you bite into it, things like that.

2. This is something I struggle with too. When I pare down the description of emotions, I'm never sure that I'm getting them across. One thing that helps me is to kind of act out the scene. Like, put myself in the character's headspace and imagine what I'd do in their situation, then think of how to describe what I just did. Another helpful thing is, if they have any good, emotive scenes in canon (and let's be real, in this fandom that's a big if), to rewatch those and see if they have any characteristic gestures or habits.

3. I definitely know this feel. If I didn't make myself describe the surroundings, most of my stories would probably take place in a featureless void. This is another thing where having a POV character makes things easier, because then I can just report what they notice. Like if they're in a new or alien room, its most striking features, or if they're somewhere familiar, that it's like it always is, or it's changed in X, Y, and Z ways.

It's harder when I'm using an omniscient third person narrator. I usually try to put a sentence or two of description whenever I move the action to a new location, and keep it to a sentence or two. I try to think of what the state of the room conveys as well as what it is. So like, "The room was tidy; it wasn't much lived in," vs. "Magnus had kept the room clean."

I'm going to be watching these comments, because I could definitely use some advice too!

Date: 2013-07-03 03:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ayngelcat.livejournal.com
I agree with the short, sharp punchy thing, its just that some people seem to have really appropriate metaphors just rolling out that have a great effect, and I'd love to have the knack! I always feel it shows where somebody's been 'looking' for a metaphor, besides which their overuse can make writing horribly 'flowery.' Its getting the balance - but perhaps better not use them at all than use crap ones!

Yes, being inside a pov character's head and describing how they might see something is a good one. I must remember that, also with respect to what you say about expressing feelings. Very helpful. I'm getting better at 'getting into character.' I think there's an art to it. I'm completely self taught in writing so some of these things have been slow to dawn I think!

I think that's something of a key isn't it with pov writing, cos it sorts out the surroundings thing too. You can add elements that contribute to whatever you are trying to put across?

And oh please yes, I didn't even put that on the list, but somebody tell me how to write good narrative. I really admire writers that have that technique, its all narrative but they dive in and out of multiple pov's. I find that really hard to do without getting overly bogged in one!

Date: 2013-07-02 01:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dellessa.livejournal.com
I have trouble with all of that. =\

Date: 2013-07-03 03:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ayngelcat.livejournal.com
LOL I hope this post is helpful to you too in that case then :)

Date: 2013-07-02 02:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] neverminetohold.livejournal.com
My greatest weakness is writing fight scenes, I find that I often lack the vocabulary to describe what happens, especially movements or hand-to-hand combat.

As for describing peoples feelings... Hm, I usually use a mix of the POV character simply thinking about what they feel and showing those emotions through non-verbal language. I prefer to spell some things out plainly, because I'm not sure how smart (or dense) my readers really are when it comes to reading the subtext/between the lines ^.^" Because when I was younger myself, I missed many hints, just didn't pick up on them and got bored by many books that I now love, and not everyone is very empathetic.

Descriptions are tricky. Do you know why I never made it farther into 'Lord of the Rings' than 100 pages? It was because Tolkien talked too much about nature for my taste and that bored me to tears ^_^" But almost everyone else loves the books to pieces... So, tricky. When I started writing, back when I only wrote in German, I put in lengthy paragraphs of descriptions, even ones that were totally unnecessary to drive the story forward. Now I give the readers enough to know where the character is, but in the end, how many descriptive passages I use depends heavily on the POV character.

Date: 2013-07-03 03:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ayngelcat.livejournal.com
Yeah I always dread writing fight scenes, though they often turn out better than I think they will. Does it help to have a lot of vocabulary though, or is describing in simple language just as effective? I think pov fight scenes are hard because all the need to describe feelings, reactions etc crop up again but that maybe comes down agiain to being in characters' heads.

There are a lot of descriptions in LOTR. LOL and I love those books - maybe that's why I always think it would be good to inject the odd amazing description here and there without overdoing it!

Does that mean English is not your first language? Wow - I'm always awestruck by that, especially when I never would have known :DD

Date: 2013-07-06 01:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] neverminetohold.livejournal.com
Mine do too, most often ^_^" But then, my writing is mostly not very action focused and many things can be glossed over without being too obvious. I too like to focus on the characters emotions and avoid turning the fight scene into some sort of martial arts tournament commentary... Still, it's what I struggle with the most.

I had a feeling you would say that about LotR LOL

No, my first language is German - and thank you for the compliment; that means my English teachers must have been doing something right over the years ;)

Date: 2013-07-02 05:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jarakrisafis.livejournal.com
1: I don't even realise when I'm using everyday ones that go with organic speech patterns and they often slip through without me catching them. The ones I put in on purpose are geared more towards tf's so I aim for mechanical types if I can, often substituting from organic to non organic.

2: I write in 1st person by default so this is something I've never had trouble with while in that mode, however if I move to 2nd or 3rd I do have trouble. Without being inside a characters mind I can't express the emotions using their body language etc as easily.

3: Again, I'm fine in my 1st person as the char see's and interacts with the surroundings. Move into a different mode and I skip over it.

Date: 2013-07-03 07:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ayngelcat.livejournal.com
1. That's a great way to be! You also have a knack of making things intriguingly 'robotic' in a very natural way *is envious!*

2. I used to write a lot of IP, and it is easier in some ways. I have not written IP present tense - is that even easier? I must try, I keep meaning to.

When I first switched from 1P to third person or POV I did sometimes used to write the scene as IP and then 'convert' it. I still do that occasionally - it can help with getting 'in character.' Do you do that at all?

All these questions!

Date: 2013-07-03 09:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jarakrisafis.livejournal.com
1: Awwwwwwww. Thank you.

2: I have no idea. 1P Present is my default (because I'm strange like that). Past tense I can do but I have to go through and edit to catch the present tense stuff that slips in without me noticing.

3: I do that without trying :P I have to edit if I write 3P because there will be 1P stuff in there.

Date: 2013-07-02 06:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] iron-valkyrie.livejournal.com
1. I think it's better to write plain-jane to begin with, then worry about getting a bit 'fancy' later on. It's better to look at it freshly than risk repeating yourself or anything that might be cliche. Like I'm one to talk, dskljdsf I DUNNO mostly I agree with bears on this one, ignore my babbling.

2. I dunno, I do this too. :T Probably something I should work on as well. But whatever I describe, I try to make it make sense with the character... I guess? I used to have a bad habit of projecting my own habits onto characters, whoops.

3. I'm with you here. :( I suck at setting.

Date: 2013-07-03 04:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ayngelcat.livejournal.com
OK, well maybe I shouldn't get too hung up about the metaphor thing? LOL, I agree with the 'plain jane' approach. Its just that some well know authors seem to use s and m's a lot - Abyssal1 who wrote 'Worlds Translated Thus' springs to mind. In her later works, she uses them even more, and its often very subtle. But then I guess, she doesn't always, and I know not everyone raves about that story.

Projecting own stuff is so easy to do too - I think it took me ages to realize you have to get as much 'into character' in writing as you do acting. I don't remember ever being taught that in literature or drama. Maybe it should be obvious, but it wasn't to me!

Date: 2013-07-02 10:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rose0mary.livejournal.com
Writing advice:

Practice, practice practice - if you can. and don't be afraid to edit or REWRITE the first draft.
Yes, the lessons I learned in English class still apply here.

As for specifics:
1. If I use these, I don't notice them until I reread what's been written.
IMHO, they aren't necessary, unless the bots (and cons) like comparing/contrasting what's happening NOW to what's been experienced in the past - Like when one of them sees something that doesn't fit what they know about, and then when they try to describe it to others.

2. This could be one of my failings: too much focus on the emotions, or a blank canvas.
Sometimes writing down EVERY SINGLE DETAIL of every muscle twitch and aborted arm/leg movements, sometimes forgetting they can add jesters, or emphasis their words with body language.
Hit and miss on the emotions/body movements. I'll get better with more writing of fiction. LOTS of writing.

3. I do enjoy adding unnecessary detail.
So, when the muse hits, I let it go as descriptive and in-depth as it likes, just so I can get to the juicy bits, then, before posting, either cut out the extra words that -while great background and history - bog down the story or aren't relevant NOW. Or I rewrite the scene and find I automatically cut out some (most) of the [boring] stuff surrounding the activity.

Different writers, different authors have different approaches to how they get fics written and published.
The fact you know where your weaknesses are is a good thing - you'll be able to keep an eye on those sections, and ask for specific help when it's needed, instead of waiting someone to point out 'hey this doesn't work right. don't know why, but I struggled reading this part' which is NOT a big help.

Date: 2013-07-03 04:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ayngelcat.livejournal.com
Thank you for all this <3 I've realized since starting writing how abysmal my english education was - which just goes to show that expensive schools aren't necessarily good schools. It was a while back - I like to think teachers wouldn't get away with so much now! I agree lots of writing - it feels like a process of evolution.

That's interesting what you say about putting in a lot and then cutting it back. I've only just started being able to do that as well. I found a great tendency to think "but I LIKE that so I WANT it in there" regardless of whether other poeple were going to like it or it would really work that well as a whole! Good to have that drawn to my attention again :)

I agree that's not helpful, any more than are negative reviews. Ive been lucky to have very helpful betas :D

Date: 2013-07-02 11:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anon-feather.livejournal.com
1. I don't think much about metaphors or simile. If they work in the sentence, I place them there. I don't think there's anything wrong in using the same metaphors from fics to fics. It's like the word "said". It can be used very often without it being too overused when reading. In my opinion, anyways. Maybe for a same character you can use the same analogy. It's it's a bomb, you can use "his fuse was getting short", "he is ready to explode", "5 seconds until he detonates", "luckily, someone diffused his anger." Whereas another charcater could be compared to something else, like water "He touch was always gentle like raindrops", "He could be placid; he could be torrential", "It was always refreshing when they kissed."

For human terms... I either try to say "As the humans would say: blah blah" or try to find a cheap equivalent. Usually by placing a cyberterm like -turbo or by relating it to the spark/electricity.

2. I described the actions/reactions. Sometimes I add dialog/thoughts if I'm uncertain that the message passed.

3. Description XD. I don't really use them. I find them boring to read, and thus to write. I take for granted that people know what an office basically look like, so I don't really described it unless it's something different from the common conception. So I might just start with "This office had the particularity of having a missing title in the ceiling. Someone thought it funny to add 'Ninja Exit' under it." So my advice, don't worry about the background unless it's relevant to the scene or that it's really beyond something common concept.

Date: 2013-07-03 02:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eaten-by-bears.livejournal.com
Seconding the turbo-this, electro-that suggestion. Canon's full of it, and imo, it's part of the charm.

Date: 2013-07-03 04:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ayngelcat.livejournal.com
Thank you for all that helpful advice.

You slip metaphors really appropriately into your writing and that's what i'd like to be able to do - not even think about it and have them be really effective. Instead I tend to sit there with a frozen brain trying to think of something that correaltes with what I'm trying to describe! Maybe its something that just happens with practice? Or more so if you don't think about it too much?

I like the human references, personally, and should maybe use them more. I remember reading ages ago somebody's opinion where they said that phrases like 'he sighed, as he had seen the humans do' were overused in fanfic and rather tiresome. Although I didn't agree, I always think of that whenever I write something similar - which goes to show how negative one person's opinions can be. Its time I moved on from that I think.

You're very good at embodying emotions in actions/reactions too! I am trying to improve on that score :D

That's good advice about the surroundings - thanks :)

Date: 2013-07-03 05:41 pm (UTC)
redseeker: (trip)
From: [personal profile] redseeker
1. I feel you. It can be really hard when you go to use a simile only to find it's too organic for the characters you're writing about. I don't think I use many flowery metaphors or similes, but sometimes even simple ones will catch me out ('so-and-so's loyal dog', 'yowled like a cat' etc.etc.) and I'll have to find a robot-ised version or just scrap it and find another way to write that sentence/passage.

2. I hate reading books where every character's thoughts are explained in detail, haha, so I try to show what they're thinking/feeling through their words and behaviour instead. It helps that for any one scene I do tend to pick one character and write from their POV, even while in the third-person.

3. I actually love painting locations and environments with words, but to counter the risk of those bits becoming too purple I deliberately try to cut back. I try to use rich language as sparingly as possible, to give those words I do use extra impact, I suppose. Paint with broad strokes, I guess, and pick out only the details that are important. I try to communicate a general "feel" for a place, without taking time to describe every aspect. The story I'm writing at the moment has a lot of new, original (as in coming from me, not the canon/source material) locations, so I'm enjoying the worldbuilding aspect to describing them.
Edited Date: 2013-07-03 05:42 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-07-04 01:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ayngelcat.livejournal.com
Yes and beware of over-using the cybercat metaphor, as I was inclined to do until this was kindly pointed out!

What you say in (2) and (3) are exactly how I'm aiming to do it, so its go to know I appear to be on the right track!

Thank you for this helpful commentary <3

Date: 2013-07-03 07:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thousanth.livejournal.com
I guess when it comes to describing places I tend to go with the two or three things that encapsulate the spirit of the place, and fill in the details by way of nods towards them contained in the actions of characters. Your character's in front of a large, old house, full of shadows. "He walked up the path, the gravel crunching beneath his feet" tells you there's a stony path and gives the reader that scrunchy sound in their ears to help them fill the rest of the details in themselves. If that makes sense?

Date: 2013-07-04 01:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ayngelcat.livejournal.com
Yes that does, and am I right in thinking that you edit out anything not necessary or with a repetitive effect. i.e. you would not say: "he walked up the stony path, the gravel crunching beneath his feet." Too much information?

I am getting better at that type of thing. I used to put in a lot more unnnecessary and repetetive detail ^^

Thanks for your help :)

Date: 2013-07-07 12:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thousanth.livejournal.com
I'd say leave out the stony because yes, excess info. The mention of the gravel in the latter half of the sentence tells you that it can't be anything other than stony.

It's a hard one to give advice for really, because I don't think there's any "right" way of writing. That's why I very rarely offer to beta anything other than strict grammar or "this is how your fic made me feel" type jobs. A lot of this stuff is down to personal style and preference.

Date: 2013-07-04 01:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] playswithworms.livejournal.com
Very interesting comments!

I know what you mean, with trying to find non-organic similes and metaphors! But I go by G1 rules in my writing, wherein I don't stress too much if it makes sense or not that robots think of things like buds unfurling (maybe they have crystal flowers, that grow and unfurl, too). I also think there's a lot of wiggle room in how much description, or how many metaphors, or details of feelings, etc. you can have and still have a great bit of writing. I tend to think of description of settings as "filler" and skim over it quickly to get to the parts I really enjoy - the interactions and emotions of the characters, but sometimes I'm in the mood to re-read and absorb and imagine every detail (I read Lord of the Rings like this - sometimes just the "good parts" and sometimes I try to pay attention to every word, and find myself marveling over things I never noticed and discovering new tiny treasures of description).

Date: 2013-07-04 01:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ayngelcat.livejournal.com
Gosh there's so much to writing isn't there, and reading. I never really thought about much of this stuff until I started writing it myself and I'm sure a lot of readers don't. Writers who can can write something that appeals on different levels, like Tolkein did, that's really clever!

G1 is great to write in, yes, because there is a lot of leeway (and not least that plots which would be a bit ridiculous in other verses are perfectly acceptable!) And maybe its OK not to be too cyber-orientated period. Some readers definitely don't like organic metaphors - I've heard them say so - but its that old thng of they don't have to read I guess!

Weather metaphors are good if the setting's on Earth (or another atmospheric planet) - I really admire those who can use these well too. As I do those who make good use of 'space' metaphors.

Thank you for this. It all helps much :-)

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