Monday, April 18, 2011

Visualize and Verbalize

Descriptions tend to escape me, especially in the first draft. I’m a simile type person so I have to be careful not to riddle my manuscripts with the word ‘like’. When I tell a story verbally, I like to use descriptions from other books or movies.

For example when describing a hot guy and I say he is Timothy Olyphant-Justified hot, not Timothy Olyphant-Hitman hot.

And you get a total mental picture of exactly what I mean.

Or I say the first part of my manuscript takes place in a forest. A beautiful, untamed forest like the one Lauren Oliver calls The Wilds in Delirium.

I like to think of this as borrowing. But eventually you have to give it back and get your own. In order to do that I have to physically and mentally slow myself down and ponder descriptions. I have to visualize and verbalize. Which I believe is the very definition of being a writer.

What is the most difficult part of writing for you?


  1. So you go with the library/borrowers philosophy of writing first drafts? Interesting. I use place holders sometimes too if I can't come up with the right words. I'll type in all caps DESCRIBE TREES HERE and move on, knowing I'll come back to it when I can spend more time meditating on it. Descriptions are hard, dialogue is hard, plot is hard. It's all hard. I hate it. Except I love it.

  2. Sometimes it can be difficult knowing how to describe something. Visual things can be so tricky to get right. You know what you see, but putting it into words is the challenge. I tend to highlight a certain passage in yellow to come back to later. I'll get it eventually!

  3. I like L.G.'s idea to use placeholders. I'll mark everything in my manuscript that I need to come back to later with this: (???). Then occasionally I'll do a search for every single (???) in my ms. Then I don't get slowed down by looking through my manuscript or having to do research while I'm writing.

  4. The most difficult part of writing for me? Saying exactly what I need to say in the least amount of words possible, without sacrificing voice for conciseness.

    Oh, and not using cliches. SO GUILTY OF THAT. I can cut 20% of my first drafts just by eliminating cliches alone!

  5. Descriptions are difficult - I especially find it hard to avoid description dumps. Like info dumps, only with adjectives. :)

  6. OH, and of course, sex scenes. I don't have that much imagination.


It helps to know I'm not just talking to myself.