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Apt Words for Writing Descriptions

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  • #137085
    Noah Cochran
    @noah-cochran

    Alrighty, I’m wanting for y’all to help me extended my writing lexicon by supplying me with more apt, concise words that you use to describe things, particularly when it comes to writing descriptions of stone, wood, and cloth objects, such as: jewelry, trinkets, furniture, carvings, cutlery, medieval transportation vehicles, clothing, and any opulent decoration or artistic work. My aim is not fancy vocabulary, this is about more eloquent and concise writing. Words that I have found useful in this arena are: Embossed, Adorned (very basic, but it should be mentioned), Lacquered, and the term “inlaid with”.

    So let me know y’all’s thoughts and what words you have found useful in this area. 🙂

    I’ll tag a few people in:


    @rose-colored-fancy


    @sparrowhawke


    @obrian-of-the-surface-world


    @arindown


    @imwritehere1920

    #137086
    Brian Stansell
    @obrian-of-the-surface-world

    @noah-cochran

    Hi Noah,

     

    particularly when it comes to writing descriptions of stone, wood, and cloth objects, such as: jewelry, trinkets, furniture, carvings, cutlery, medieval transportation vehicles, clothing, and any opulent decoration or artistic work

    Metal: dappled, patina, sheen, silvered, opalescent, marbled, shimmering, burnished, brazen, prismatic, bronzed, flame-kissed, blued, glint, tarnished, encrusted, rusted, oxidized, polished, honed, gilded, forged, wrought, cast, blackened, milled, alloyed, textured, grained, brushed, hammered, corrugated, galvanized, ionized, anodized, etc.

    Wood: parquet, inlaid, scrolled, beveled, polished, carved, milled, crosscut, roughcut, aged, grayed, splintered, antiqued, oiled, polished, buffed, corded, corked, balsa, ash, mahogany, cypress, pine, spruce, fir, beech, maple, oak, redwood, acacia, teak, bleached, burled, smoked, onlay, filigreed, rustic, imprinted, embossed, etc.

    Cloth: printed, patterned, houndstooth, paisely, embroidered, stamped, dyed, inked, stonewashed, distressed, shredded, weathered, patched, patchwork, motley, festive, floral, taffeta, bodiced, empire waist, draped, cowled, caped, hooded, sashed, epaulets, spats, regal ermine, fringed, buckskinned, hammered leather, bonded leather, molded leather, oilskin, satin, broadcloth, duster, tailored, cumberbund, dapper, dandy, foppish, checkered, festooned, singed, gathered, fanned, flourished, sleek, sequined, rhinestoned, mottled, striped, dotted, v-cut, scalloped, boat neck, scooped, turtlenecked, plunging neck, backless, strapless, coquettish, square-necked, corduroy, etc.

    Whew…! I am sure there are many more.
    I think comparative usage of similes and metaphors might be a nice shift to create an allusion, beyond just simple descriptors.

    I know I harp on it, but Dean Koontz comes up with so many awesome ways to describe ordinary objects in extraordinary ways.  Look for ways a favorite author does this too, to get a sense of the metal, wood, and clothing descriptions using some surprising similarities between them.  (Eg. Her dress was an amalgam of luminescent scales, as she moved fish-like through a sea of turning heads.  Turtles, she thought bemused. Men were nothing more than mere turtles, hiding her grin beneath her gloved hand.)

    Brian Stansell (aka O'Brian of the Surface World)
    I was born in war.
    Fighting from my first breath.

    #137087
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @noah-cochran

    Hi Noah! Nice to see you again!

    My aim is not fancy vocabulary, this is about more eloquent and concise writing. Words that I have found useful in this arena are: Embossed, Adorned (very basic, but it should be mentioned), Lacquered, and the term “inlaid with”.

    Brian has already given you quite a selection of words, so I’m not going to repeat that 😉

    I can’t say I have a specific group of words that I always use, but one of the best tricks I’ve figured out is to try to describe things in motion or at least describe them with verbs. Now, let me illustrate my point.

    Here’s a short description that I just made up: (That dress does actually appear in my WIP, incidentally)

    “She wore a bright yellow dress with ornate embroidery on the bodice. The dress’ cut was simple, but the embroidery in dusty rose, seafoam green, and ochre made it more formal.”

    (That was hard to write, it felt so deeply wrong XD)

    Now, watch what happens when you ‘set it in motion’.

    “The bright yellow dress billowed in the wind and the girl tried to push the linen down as it swirled up around her knees. Embroidery curled across the bodice, seafoam green, ochre, and dusty rose dancing across the fabric in intricate curls.”

    See the difference? The second one seems far more alive and interesting, and it feels like the story is still moving, whereas it felt like you stopped the story to describe it in the first one.

    Whenever possible, set something in motion before you describe it, especially when it’s something someone is wearing, like clothing or jewelry.

    Don’t say the ox-drawn cart is decrepit, say that the axel creaked ominously as the ox strained at it, the crooked wheels jamming firmly in the mud. It’s like a small-scale “show, don’t tell”.

    Now, to zoom in to word choice. Check out the first example and look at the verbs. “She wore. The dress was. The embroidery made it–” Those are awfully drab verbs, even if the description is interesting.

    Now, in the second, I used motion verbs to describe things that weren’t actually in motion. “Embroidery curled. The colors danced across the fabric.” It isn’t literally doing all those things, but it gives you the sense that the dress is moving and it appears to be doing that. When it is actually moving, I used the most active verbs I could.

    (Quick note, picking verbs is always about accuracy, not exaggeration. Don’t say someone ‘screeched’ or ‘bellowed’ if they didn’t actually do that.)

    Some words have more inherent motion than others. Curled, swirled, bounced, danced, just to name a few. I like to use those in descriptions, but listen to your intuition and don’t put them in places they don’t belong.

    Here’s taking that example too far:

    “The yellow dress undulated in the gust of wind. The girl desperately tried to shove it down as it flounced up around her knees. The embroidery ricocheted across the bodice, every thread vibrating with color.”

    (That was one of the most ludicrous descriptions I’ve written and I did it mostly for my own amusement XD)

    It still isn’t terrible but it comes across as a bit melodramatic. I guess the only way to tell when it’s enough or too much is just to follow your intuition. *Shrugs*

    It’s fine to practice these things, but in my first draft, I’ll often use very dry descriptions, just to jot it down faster. You might end up deleting that entire scene and then the time will be wasted.

    This wasn’t entirely on-topic, but it’s the best I could do since Brian already answered your question.

    Hope this helped! Happy writing!

    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by Rose.

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    #137090
    Noah Cochran
    @noah-cochran

    @obrian-of-the-surface-world

    Hey Brian, that is quite an extensive list, thanks man! I’ll be trying to incorporate those in appropriate descriptions. 🙂


    @rose-colored-fancy

    Hey Rose, I’m glad it’s nice to see me again. xD

    Looking at your examples of using motion in descriptions and trying to utilize verbs, I’ll I can say is that is a great point. That description of the dress by using verbs was fantastic, and I even liked the melodramatic one. One always has to have those flouncing dresses. 😉 xD I already had this tip of describing movement written down, but I hadn’t thought of it in relation to physical descriptions.

    Though, now that I think about it, I kinda already use it. For instance, I wouldn’t ever write: The large, high-backed chair had curving lines.

    Instead I would write: The large chair’s high back rose up like an intricate wall, and sinuous swirls ran down the polished limbs.

    Thanks for the once again sound advice! From what I’ve seen of your writing, I definitely think you’re skilled enough to self-publish a book, but that’s up to you of course. But if you ever need an alpha or beta reader for that purpose, I might be interested. 🙂

     

     

    #137091
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @noah-cochran

    Looking at your examples of using motion in descriptions and trying to utilize verbs, I’ll I can say is that is a great point. That description of the dress by using verbs was fantastic, and I even liked the melodramatic one. One always has to have those flouncing dresses.   xD I already had this tip of describing movement written down, but I hadn’t thought of it in relation to physical descriptions.

    Awesome! I’m glad it helped!

    Though, now that I think about it, I kinda already use it. For instance, I wouldn’t ever write: The large, high-backed chair had curving lines.

    Instead I would write: The large chair’s high back rose up like an intricate wall, and sinuous swirls ran down the polished limbs.

    Ooh, that’s a good one! During the later stages of editing, you can often go through and search ‘was’ ‘were’ and ‘had’. You don’t have to cut all of them, of course, but sometimes you can put it a better way. (Once again, no known rules exist for a first draft. As long as it exists 🙂 )

    Thanks for the once again sound advice! From what I’ve seen of your writing, I definitely think you’re skilled enough to self-publish a book, but that’s up to you of course. But if you ever need an alpha or beta reader for that purpose, I might be interested.

    Thanks for your kind words! I’ll keep that in mind 🙂

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    #137095
    imwritehere1920
    @imwritehere1920

    @rose-colored-fancy

    I loved your second example of description!  I’m going to definitely try that technique out more in my stories (I kinda do already, but not as much as I should). XD

     


    @noah-cochran

    Hi Noah!  How have you been?

    I pretty much agree with Brian and Rose.  They basically said what I would say.  🙂

    We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master. — Ernest Hemingway

    #137106
    Noah Cochran
    @noah-cochran

    @imwritehere1920

    I’ve been doing fine, been trying to get in 2k words a day, which has been going well, but we’ll see what happens when I have to start online college and school next week.

    #137134
    imwritehere1920
    @imwritehere1920

    @noah-cochran

    Cool.  If you don’t mind me asking, is this your first year in college?  What are you studying?

    We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master. — Ernest Hemingway

    #137135
    Noah Cochran
    @noah-cochran

    @imwritehere1920

    Yep, it’s my first year. I am studying business. What about you, are you still in high-school or are you doing college?

    #137153
    imwritehere1920
    @imwritehere1920

    @noah-cochran

    Technically, I’m old enough to be in college (early twenties).  I took a college writing class last year and am focusing on writing and publishing stories this year (Lord willing).

    I wish you luck with your writing and upcoming classes  🙂

    We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master. — Ernest Hemingway

    #137157
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @imwritehere1920

    I loved your second example of description!  I’m going to definitely try that technique out more in my stories (I kinda do already, but not as much as I should). XD

    Thank you! Glad I could help 🙂

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    #137159
    Noah Cochran
    @noah-cochran

    @imwritehere1920

    Hey, I just wanna say, don’t do more college unless you find it absolutely necessary. I’m all for just diving into writing and spending your time doing that instead of college, especially if you want to publish.

    Thanks, you as well. 🙂


    @rose-colored-fancy

    Rose, you’re new look is slightly ominous. xD

    #137161
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @noah-cochran

    Rose, your new look is slightly ominous. xD

    Thanks! XD I really liked that scene from Catching Fire!

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    #137166
    imwritehere1920
    @imwritehere1920

    @noah-cochran

    Thanks for the advice!  Are you focusing on just individual college classes too?

    We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master. — Ernest Hemingway

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