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Writing Descriptions

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  • #135832
    Noah Cochran
    @noah-cochran

    Alright, one more post of my writings. xD This scene I wrote is very heavy in descriptions, and I would appreciate any tips on how to write it in a more interesting, fluent, and character voicey manner. I would also like you hear y’all’s thoughts, opinions, and methods on writing descriptions, and feel free to post a piece of your writing where there is much describing, I would love to see it. 🙂

    ———————————————————————————————————————–

    Tristan mounted his brown mare, and led a small group of mounted soldiers out to greet the visiting noble. They had received no message that they would be receiving guests. Why was it so hard for people to follow the basics of etiquette.

    He could see the noble’s entourage nearing the village from where he sat right outside the gates of Agen. He called for his men to follow him, and they proceeded forward.

    People milled about in the village, some stopping to gawk at the arriving noble. A man exited a large house, a large house that Tristan knew served as a tavern, and yelled in a slightly slurred voice “What’s gowan on?”

    These people had no respect. He tried to encourage them to behave in an appropriate manner, but most just laughed at him.

    “Another high an’ mighty man has come to eat our food.” called a woman leaning against her doorway. ”

    “Watch your mouth woman!” Tristan barked, “And have some respect. This man is a man of honor, and you are not.” The woman turned up her nose and walked back inside her home.

    Another man might have punished these people, but he had no desire to do harm. He wanted these people’s love, but they needed to act more respectable. More like his father.

    Thatched wooden buildings lined the streets, with poultry meandering in front of them.They rode past a dung heap and Tristan grimaced. Add lack of cleanliness to these people’s faults.

    They reached the end of the village just as the noble’s entourage reached it. The entourage was made up of around a dozen mounted men-at-arms, and two fully decked out knights with breast plates, steel helms, chainmail, and swords.

    Tristan looked with appreciation at the opulently decorated four wheel cart pulled by two massive horses that came to a stop in the midst of the men-at-arms. The noble’s coat of arms,  a massive bear crossed with two maces, was on the main cart and the surcoats of the knights.

    A few more smaller carts full of chattels and other supplies came behind the lavish one, with plain clad servants managing them. The servants stood quiet and respectful, like servants should.

    Tristan was tall as far as Frenchmen went, nearly five foot ten inches, and his practice with the heavy swords and maces had given him a strong, broad build. But the man who stepped out of the cart made him pale in comparison. The man had a large bulky body with broad shoulders clad with a green tunic and dark grey surcoat with his coat-of-arms on the chest. He stood a good three inches taller than Tristan and had long black hair, and a thick beard. Give the man a mace, and he would have matched his coat of arms.

    “Welcome to Agen my lord,” Tristan said, “how may I address you?”

    The noble smiled openly showing large white teeth, “I am Bayard of Dax” he said in a deep powerful voice, “you may address me as Dax, or Bayard, or Dax of Bayard.” He laughed at his own joke, his voice resounding across the village.

    “Father” said the clear elegant voice of a young woman who had stepped out after Dax, “Don’t fluster our kind hosts.” The woman’s slender figure was nearly as tall as Tristan, and was adorned by a voluminous dark green gown belted at the waist with a silver buckled brown belt.

    <He met her eyes. She had elegantly defined cheekbones and jawline, clear skin, and candid brown eyes that shone bright energy. Her erect shoulders were framed by wavy brown hair that fell down to her waist.

    He grinned. They appeared to be a family of high dignity and honor. He thought his father would approve.

    “This is my daughter Delphine,” Dax said with a wide grin, “watch her tongue, if she thinks something, she’ll say it.”

    “Come now father, you haven’t even asked the poor man his name.” Delphine said.

    “Quite right dear, how may we address you sir?”

    “I am Tristan, son of the lord of this land, Danon of Agen. You are welcome here as long as you please.”

    “I know Lord Danon,” Dax said, “He once spent a couple nights at my castle, but I don’t recall seeing you there.”

    “But if you were there” Delphine said, “father is not saying that you were forgettable.”

    Dax gauffaed, and Tristan grinned.

    Maybe this week wouldn’t be so bad after all.

    ———————————————————————————————————————–

    Looking forward to hearing y’all’s thoughts!

    #135891

    @noah-cochran

    Sorry it took me so long to read over this!

    My initial thoughts are that it is definitely very descriptive, sometimes overly so, though I think you may know that already by requesting advice. The overall scene isn’t bad, it’s just sometimes the description can get to be a little much. Not to say that it all needs to go. Quite a bit of it adds a lot to the scene, making it come alive in my mind so I can picture the street as they ride through and picture the honoured guest resembling his own coat of arms. 😛 Haha (: I think where it gets to be a little much is when you almost double describe things, if you get what I mean. For instance, when you mention the two knights who are fully decked out in armour, guarding the coach, you then go on to say what all they’re wearing. In my mind, I don’t need that extra description, because you’ve already said it in the previous part of the sentence when you called them fully armoured (or however you specifically said that). So I think it’s little things like that which end up taking away from the flow of the story as well as just make for unnecessary reading.

    One tip I did think of as I read and that I’ve learned over my time writing: description isn’t bad (in fact it’s good), but it needs to be the important things that you add description to. And also, instead of writing any old description about something, make each description colourful and unique, as much as you are able. For instance, when you were describing the street as they rode through it, I got a good mental image because of how you mentioned the animals in front of the houses and unique facts like that, versus typical things like saying that the houses were run down and needed a lot of work. When you say that there are animals roaming freely in front of the houses, I automatically picture the houses as rather run down, because no manicured home would have animals rooting around in the front yard. Know what I mean?

    Anyway, I hope that helped at least a little. Oh, also, I like how it’s in first person and he has little thoughts that go through his head throughout the scene. Like the last sentence of the scene where he thinks: ‘Maybe this week wouldn’t be so bad after all.’ It makes the story more interesting to read.

    Even the smallest person can change the course of the future. -JRR Tolkien

    #135915
    Noah Cochran
    @noah-cochran

    Thanks for the tips Olivia! I will work on those things.

    Yes, I knew the scene was description heavy, that’s what your tips were for. 🙂

     

    #135979
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @noah-cochran

    Hello again!

    I can’t do much more than second Olivia’s suggestions! There’s really nothing more to add. This was interesting to read and I liked how you incorporated Tristan’s voice. I get the impression he’s rather arrogant XD

    Now, one thing I would like to expand on is how you describe the characters. (

    Tristan was tall as far as Frenchmen went, nearly five foot ten inches, and his practice with the heavy swords and maces had given him a strong, broad build. But the man who stepped out of the cart made him pale in comparison. The man had a large bulky body with broad shoulders clad with a green tunic and dark grey surcoat with his coat-of-arms on the chest. He stood a good three inches taller than Tristan and had long black hair, and a thick beard. Give the man a mace, and he would have matched his coat of arms.

    Now, this isn’t bad, and comparing characters is always a great way to get information across, but you could be much more concise.

    Here’s a rewrite:

    Despite his own solid build, Tristan paled in comparison to the man who stepped out of the cart. With his long black hair and beard and broad shoulders, he matched his coat of arms, minus the mace.

    In two sentences, you get the exact same imagery. I do like the way you compared him to his coat of arms, that was amusing XD

    Next one:

    “Father” said the clear elegant voice of a young woman who had stepped out after Dax, “Don’t fluster our kind hosts.” The woman’s slender figure was nearly as tall as Tristan, and was adorned by a voluminous dark green gown belted at the waist with a silver buckled brown belt.

    <He met her eyes. She had elegantly defined cheekbones and jawline, clear skin, and candid brown eyes that shone bright energy. Her erect shoulders were framed by wavy brown hair that fell down to her waist.

    I’d rewrite it as:

    “Father, don’t fluster our kind hosts.”

    The clear voice belonged to a young woman, supposedly Dax’s daughter. She lifted her voluminous skirts daintily, keeping them from dragging through the mud. She tossed her head, meeting his eyes with a confident smile. If Dax was a bear, this girl was a doe, her eyes and hair bright chestnut.

     

    Just wanted to add something because I’m a nerd and this is one of my favorite fields of nerd-dom, but she wouldn’t be wearing her hair down.

    Up until the invention of modern shampoo, women simply didn’t wear their hair loose, mostly because it got greasy and tangled too easily, and loose hair is an impractical pain in most circumstances.

    She’d be wearing her hair up or in some form of braids, and probably covered. (Though this would depend on marital status in many regions and periods) Anyway, you can go down that rabbit-hole some other time, but suffice it to say, loose hair wasn’t a thing in that period.

    I’m also linking a topic I made a while ago. It’s been dormant and lost in the archives for a while now, but feel free to use it if you want!

    Character description critiques/game

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

    #135994
    Noah Cochran
    @noah-cochran

    @rose-colored-fancy

    Thanks for the tips Rose! I was wondering how strong the character voice was, I’m glad you thought it was decent. 🙂

    Wait, so you study life during the middle ages? Have you read the Frances Gies books? What sources do you use? Or were you just saying you study women’s hair styles through history? xD

    In regard to women wearing their hair loose, I did know that is was more common by far for them to wear it in braids or piled around or on top of their head. However, I had thought that many of the poorer classes often (or at least once in a while) had their hair loose, or loose mixed with braids, and once in a while the wealthy class did too. But I could very well be wrong, I have not studied this specifically. I’ll look into it. If you’re right, I’m going to be disappointed. 🙁 xD I have always thought women having their hair loose and flowing/wavy to be one of the more beautiful ways they could have it, so I was wanting this character to have her hair that way (or at least a mix of braids and loose).

    As for head coverings, women wearing wimples was highly common for married women, but not highly common for unmarried women. Some noblewomen would always where head covering regardless of marital status, but some would not.

    I looked through that character description game y’all had, I love seeing all the ways writers  can describe a person. 🙂

    #136017
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @noah-cochran

    My computer is repeatedly swallowing my replies, so I either answered twice or not at all XD I’ll try again later.

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

    #136027
    Noah Cochran
    @noah-cochran

    That exact thing has happened to me multiple times Rose. xD

    #136030
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @noah-cochran

    Okay, fourth time’s the charm. I’m going to take out the links and see if they’re causing the problem.

    Wait, so you study life during the middle ages? Have you read the Frances Gies books? What sources do you use? Or were you just saying you study women’s hair styles through history? xD

    Both, actually 😉 I have done a lot of research about historical hairstyles and fashion, (I think it’s fascinating) but I also study other aspects. No, I haven’t heard of those! I’ll have to check it out!

    In regard to women wearing their hair loose, I did know that is was more common by far for them to wear it in braids or piled around or on top of their head. However, I had thought that many of the poorer classes often (or at least once in a while) had their hair loose, or loose mixed with braids, and once in a while the wealthy class did too. But I could very well be wrong, I have not studied this specifically. I’ll look into it. If you’re right, I’m going to be disappointed.  xD I have always thought women having their hair loose and flowing/wavy to be one of the more beautiful ways they could have it, so I was wanting this character to have her hair that way (or at least a mix of braids and loose).

    I’ve done some more research and to summarize, she might possibly wear her hair loose. Maybe. But it would be unusual, and impractical.
    Speaking from personal experience, loose hair flies into your face, gets caught in things, and gets tangled and frizzy very easily, especially when you’re outside or doing anything active.

    Sure, it’s pretty when it’s loose, but Delphine was traveling so looking pretty was probably low on the priority list, definitely below comfort.

    Taking personal experience and historical sources into consideration, Delphine would probably wear her hair up. The style where they braided their hair into two braids, crossed it in front, and sewed it in place is comfortable, secure, and relatively easy to do by yourself. It would probably be sewed in place with ribbons, a practice called hair taping. Elastics weren’t invented yet, and this was the most secure and fastest way.

    Now, I understand if you do want to have a cinematic, dramatic slow-motion hair flip moment. (We writers do enjoy drama XD) Maybe if they’re meeting Tristan’s father, she might take it down if it’s indoors and for a short period of time. (You do have to remember that taking down a hairstyle like that isn’t just pulling off the ribbon. After wearing it braided all day, it’ll be frizzy and crimpy and it’ll look like a lion’s mane until she’s brushed it.)

    And even then, she might get some raised eyebrows. As the articles above mention, hair was viewed very differently in the medieval era.

    I get that this is a lot of information. I’m writing historical fantasy, and I’m not bothering much with detailed research until the second draft, otherwise, I’ll never get anything written.

    Also, you have to check your sources if you do read articles. If they show medieval illustrations or texts, it’s probably accurate, but many people see fantasy hairstyles and medieval hairstyles as the same thing. They’re really not.

    Anyway, hope this helped. If an author mentions hair-taping in historical fiction, I’m immediately impressed 🙂

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

    #136032
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    Here are some more sources I found:

    Why medieval people didn’t wash their hair and how it stayed clean: https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=HwNLXeCVVXo

    Medieval hairstyles with illustrations and sources: rosaliegilbert.com/hairstyles.html

    • This reply was modified 3 months, 1 week ago by Rose.

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

    #136036
    Noah Cochran
    @noah-cochran

    I’ve done some more research and to summarize, she might possibly wear her hair loose. Maybe. But it would be unusual, and impractical.

    This is what I had thought was the case, which means I could get away with it possibly. xD But you’re absolutely right, in this scene she would and should definitely have her hair up in some kind of braid or bun style.

    Speaking from personal experience, loose hair flies into your face, gets caught in things, and gets tangled and frizzy very easily, especially when you’re outside or doing anything active.

    From the many times I have seen this happen to women, I would concur. 🙂

    Thanks for the sources! I will definitely be watching some of videos on that snappydragon channel!

    #136082
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @noah-cochran

    Glad I could help, and thanks for reading my long, detailed rant on very specific stuff that only three people will ever notice XD Anyway, I do think it’s an interesting thing to take into consideration.

    Thanks for the sources! I will definitely be watching some of videos on that snappydragon channel!

    Of course! Totally do, she’s cool!

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

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