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March 18th, 2006

12:55 am
More icons! And writerly stuff.

Got the BeagleFic back from my (published) Mom. She made some excellent suggestions, which I incorporated, to a certain extent. It's funny, when you're making the transition from fanfic to profic, how your weaknesses as a writer really come to the fore.

I suck at description. I know this. I work at it sometimes. I hate having a big ol' block of expositional description of a character or a place, though. It interrupts the narrative flow of the story, mostly. That being said, I think there's a place for that, if a character is encountering another character or a place for the first time. For example, they take on a passenger in this story--whom I describe in some detail, because this is the first time the crew and the audience are meeting this, um, person/alien. From the characters' POV, they would take note of this passenger's appearance.

However, they have a doctor on board who is also an alien. I don't take a big old block of text to describe her; instead, I describe her in dribs and drabs throughout the scene, which I think works better--in that scene. She does something with some part of her anatomy (waves antennae, f'rinstance), and you get a sense by the end of the scene what she looks like.

With the humans in the story, it's more difficult. There's only so much to describe, and it's hard to describe gracefully. Hair, eyes, height, weight, what they're wearing, maybe a general (or specific) idea of age. Part of my problem is that, as a reader, I frankly don't really care about all that stuff. If it doesn't affect the actual story, then it's not important. If a character isn't doing something with their hair, there's no really good way to describe its color. If the eyes aren't doing anything, who cares what color they are? Is he chubby? Unless it means he can't squeeze into a tight space later in the story, it doesn't matter. Is she beautiful? Is she ugly? Who cares?

Yes, I realize I need to paint a picture here, and part of painting that picture is telling my readers what these people look like. But how much is too much; how little isn't enough? Do we need to know everyone's eye color? Do you care what they're wearing? How about what the ship looks like? Will people even notice the difference between "interplantetary" and "interstellar"? How much can I imply without coming right out and saying stuff? In a novel, it's easy to take your time and party down with descriptive narrative. In a short story? Not so much.

Of course, my view of the short story is that it's about the story. Anything that slows down the telling of the tale should be ruthlessly excised, within reason. And I also realize that this is very probably most definitely my lame way of rationalizing the way I write and the shortcuts I take.

Argh.

Anyway. I promised icons, and here they are. The first one is for apocalypsos, and the other two are courtesy of cute_overload.

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