Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Astaroth, Aug 7, 2013.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Do you have a question or problem regarding WRITING? If you want to know something about or are struggling with grammar and spelling, descriptive details, stylistic voice, storytelling, or other mechanical aspects of writing, just post here and a Professor or volunteer will help you!

    #1 Astaroth, Aug 7, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2014
  2. Could somebody give me an example of a post that has 3+ paragraphs in a conversation so that I might know how they expanded their writing?
  3. Hi @kimonka ! While you're waiting on example posts, you might wanna try This workshop! It gives a basic list of things you can describe in your post to help expand the scene!
    • Thank Thank x 1
  4. When you are in the middle of a conversation with someone, the posts are naturally going to tend towards the shorter side. This is for a couple of reasons. The first is that it's a bit more static, or stationary environment. Even if there is a riot going on around them, the background filters out during a conversation. It's the same as in real life. If you're focused on a person, you are less aware of your surroundings. So unless something big happens to draw their attention, or something happens to them physically, it's not always worth posting. And if this is constantly happening, it's not a very good conversation going on.

    The other reason is pacing and timing. A conversation back and forth isn't going to have more than a couple sentences unless they're having a debate. So it really slows down and drags out things if you have to wade through a myriad of fluff to get to the substance of the post. Also, it can get tedious commenting on every. single. thing. going on around them as they converse.

    I say all this to say: you're not going to find a lot of posts where, in the middle of a conversation, there are going to be 3+ paragraphs. Maybe at the beginning or end of the conversation, but not in the middle. But that doesn't mean they have to be one-liners. A good rule of thumb is a 3:1 ratio between the speech and the rest of the post. Try to have around 3 thoughts, actions OR observations to each sentence, or three lines/sentences for every one line/sentence of dialogue. This isn't a hard and fast rule, but it's a good guideline to balance the dialogue with the rest of the writing in the post.

    And read Diana's workshop. It's a good one. :)

    Here is a thread that a partner and I have started (it's stalled a bit at the moment as she is sick with the flu). It's just the two of us, but there's three characters in the conversation. I hope this helps you. Just as a warning, there is body dismemberment and a corpse (not gratuitously, but yes), so if that's not your thing, let me know and I'll find a more tasteful subject. The characters are a butcher who also disposes of body's for the Russian mob (1920s), his apprentice, and the apprentice's friend. Oh, and they're anthropomorphic, two cats and a wolverine. Just so you know.

    The Butcher's Apprentice
    • Thank Thank x 3
  5. @kimonka: I would just like to add that CONTENT is always going to be more important than LENGTH. If your post is moving the scene forward and contributing something of interest to the thread, it can be one paragraph or even one sentence! Nothing is worse than "padding" out a post with useless filler just for the sake of length. No one wants to read filler!
  6. I'm 100% in agreement with the fact that length without content equals to poor writing, butI fear that I have developed the bad habit of doing just that, among others faults, especially on introductory posts, where I often want to put too much in it, without giving it a chance to be properly developed which often leads to a poor result.

    Here is my last example :
    Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks!
  7. This exercise may be helpful! I'm working on another for curbing overdescription, which seems to be the main thing elongating your post.

    Overdescription is what it sounds like, it's when you go overboard with your describing things. Most commonly, it means you violate Chekhov's Gun principle and give everything zoomed in attention. Chekhov's Gun Is a great principle to keep in mind when telling a story, it's simple: "if a story begins with a gun on a mantelpiece, the story cannot end until the gun has been fired". Simplified, it means if you draw special attention to something (by beginning a story with it, bringing it up often, or describing it in extra detail), it should be something important to the story. If you specially describe everything like this, nothing has impact. We don't get how gorgeous a heroine's party dress is, because her t-shirt and jeans were gawked over for half a page, too.

    Overdescription also affects your pacing. The longer it takes to read something, the slower it feels like it's happening. The tone and mood of the words you use also affect pacing, but how long you take to say 'she fell into a puddle' definitely plays a long role in how long it seems to take to happen.

    I would suggest going over a post when you've written it, thinking the following:

    - is this something that needs to be added to the other players' mental image immediately?

    - have I used more than one or two descriptors for something relatively insignificant?

    - Is the thing I'm describing super significant to the story or my character's current goals? If so, does it stand out in the post appropriately?
    • Thank Thank x 1
  8. I'm dying to know where I should put my commas here or at least simplify and/or take apart the sentence in a way, but not to the point where it doesn't show what she's currently going through. This is the sentence:

    After experiencing the horrors of reality during childhood her heart is one of gold but a melancholic aura surrounds her when she's alone and vulnerable testing the hidden dangers that lurk around every corner.

    I originally put the commas like so:

    After experiencing the horrors of reality during childhood, her heart is one of gold but a melancholic aura surrounds her when she's alone and vulnerable, testing the hidden dangers that lurk around every corner.

    I don't know what it is but I feel like I'm doing something wrong... I feel like I've misplaced the commas...
  9. You've actually used too few commas in that sentence, which is nice because most people have the opposite problem.

    Commas should be used to separate introductory statements and clauses, so the one after the word childhood is good. You're setting up the other parts of the sentence with context, and it wouldn't make sense to leave it running there.

    Commas should be used to separate independent clauses that are joined together by a coordinating conjunction (words like and, but, for, or, nor, yet, so), and the comma should be placed just before the conjunction. To test if something is an independent clause or not, make it its own sentence; if it's a legitimate sentence on its own, it's probably an independent clause. 'Her heart is one of gold' and 'A melancholic aura surrounds her when she's alone' are independent clauses. There should be a comma after the word gold.

    Commas should be used to separate clauses that refer to previous clauses in the sentence, especially if they use their own separate verb. The last part (testing...) refers to the part about the melancholic aura, rather than being a direct addition describing said aura, so it should be separated by a comma as you already placed it.

    The sentence with proper commas would be like so:

    After experiencing the horrors of reality during childhood, her heart is one of gold, but a melancholic aura surrounds her when she's along and vulnerable, testing the hidden dangers that lurk around every corner.
  10. @Jorick Thank you so much for the explanation! You're a life saver!
  11. @Amaranthe
    An alternative way to improve the flow/pacing of that sentence would be to split it in two:

    After experiencing the horrors of reality during childhood, her heart is one of gold. However a melancholic aura surrounds her when she's alone and vulnerable, testing the hidden dangers that lurk around every corner.
  12. @Minibit Thank you very much for your help too!
  13. I got a lot of problems in my writing. First, I don't know if I need to add a question in the paragraph. Second, I sometimes mix the telling paragraph type to showing paragraph type. Third, I don't know how to make post long. Help ;;-;;
  14. Could you explain what you mean by "add a question in the paragraph" and "mix the telling paragraph type to showing paragraph type"? I'm pretty sure in the second you're referring to the principle of "Show, don't tell", which refers to presenting the information and letting the reader interpret it, rather then telling them how to interpret it (for example, showing "goosebumps appeared on James' skin, and he shivered although he didn't feel cold. There were butterflies in his stomach and a voice in his head kept nagging him 'turn back, turn back!'" instead of telling "James felt very scared") but I'm not sure
  15. Like, "should he do this?" "does he even know that what he is doing is injustice?" something like that. And yes, I am talking about that 'Show don't tell' thing, and since you mention some examples in your answer; I think I write the 'show' paragraph thing. Sorry, I must be confusing.
  16. That's okay; it can be harder to communicate through typing, because you can't hear tone and inflection.

    So when you talk about putting a question in, you're referring to description like in this example?:

    James gulped as he stood before the door. Should he knock on it? He wasn't sure, his hand shook as he stood undecided.

    Whether you should insert questions like that is a matter of style; personally I don't like it. When you ask a question, you address the audience, similarly to the way the following examples address the audience:

    "When Laura was a little girl, she could go to the store and buy candy for a dime; things were far different than the world you are used to now."

    "You remember the room I said would be important? Thomas was headed directly for it with long, decisive steps"

    When you address your audience like that, you have to commit to that style of writing, where it sounds like you're reading a book or telling a story to another person. There's nothing wrong with that; the Chronicles of Narnia books are written this way, and as you're probably aware, they're timeless classics that have been loved for many decades. However the important thing when you choose any style to write in is that you stick to it. If you speak/write as if you're talking directly to a person, you have to write that way in every post. It's the same with perspective; if you write in what's called limited perspective (where your posts contain no more knowledge than what your character would know; for example, writing a character walking towards a door, and not mentioning the monster that you know is waiting behind it because your character doesn't know about it), then you have to keep that perspective in every post. Writing in a consistent voice and style keeps your readers from getting distracted by sudden changes in style.

    Now, about showing and telling

    It's usually better to use the showing method; like I said before, showing means just telling the reader what is going on, and letting them decide how to interpret it. Don't' tell the reader that a character was pretty, just describe what they look like in an appealing way, and let the reader decide that they are attractive. Don't tell the reader that the character was happy, write about them smiling and looking at things in a positive way; use positive words and let the reader interpret the mood for themselves. When readers are told how to react to something (to think a character is pretty, to interpret a mood as happy), it can be distracting, and even make some of us more feisty folk want to disagree with the order on principle :P

    There are some times when it is better to just tell though; those times are usually when the thing you're telling is unimportant, or needs to be out of the way quickly so that you can put the focus of the post on things that need the focus.

    For example, if you're writing a scene where Sarah is happy because she got a birthday present that she really wanted, you should just say that she is 'happy', 'overjoyed', 'ecstatic', or some other telling word, because the important part of this post is the birthday present, and it needs to have more focus and time in the post than Sarah's mood.
  17. I understand now, thank you for helping me.
  18. Hi, I've often noticed that my speech is never really organic or realistic, as such, especially when I'm both sides of the conversation such as talking to a parent, so could someone chuck me some advice when doing speech?
  19. @The_J
    This is where having life experience can be a big help. Being able to draw upon things that happened to you personally is one of the easiest ways to help you recognize where your conversations are being unrealistic.

    Alternately, though, a lot of people simply don't have the experiences for the situations they're roleplaying, because they haven't experienced them yet (parenthood, for example), or they probably never will (being in a low-fantasy post-apocalypse, for example lol).

    The best way in those cases to approach your dialogue is to consider each speaking character as a real person and to get inside their heads, so to speak. Everyone has their own needs, desires, and concerns to look out for, and you want to try to make that apparent in the way the characters handle themselves, both physically and verbally. Consider to yourself, what would a real person in this situation likely do or say?

    Keep in mind, also, that what the character wants won't always align with what you (as the writer / roleplayer) want. It won't always align with what other characters want, either. For example, a mother wants her child to not stay out too late, to behave, to stay out of trouble, and to get good grades. A rebellious child often would rather sneak out with his friends than busy himself with schoolwork. That scenario alone provides you with some dialogue.

    But what you should also try to think about is: Why? Following this example...

    The mother wants this because she wants her child to have the tools to succeed, and for the child to be able to take advantage of the opportunities that the mother and father have worked essentially their entire lives to be able to provide. For the son to ignore them or disregard them is (in the parents' eyes) not only disrespectful, but it's a HUGE waste of their efforts.​

    The child doesn't have the foresight to understand this. He lives in the now, he wants what he wants and he'll often do what he must in order to get them. Things like schoolwork are boring, and he likely doesn't understand or doesn't care about what it could mean for his future if he chooses not to be a good student. Maybe he feels oppressed by his parents. Or maybe he just got influenced by the wrong crowd of people he chose to keep as friends (but obviously, he doesn't realize it because they're his friends after all).​

    NOW we have some layers for the interaction!

    It's important to be able to take a step back and try to examine things like this every once in a while just so you get an idea of where your character's head is at. Now we can construct a conversation that is tense, that has recognizable undertones, and that feels real because we've examined the characters as if they are real.

    I hope this helps! Let me know if I've been unclear. ^^
    • Like Like x 2
  20. Everything fatal said, but with an addendum for vocabulary

    Consider not only what motivations and reasonings real people have which effect what they would say, but how a real person would say it. Can you picture the teen in Fatal's example saying "I find that unfair and as such I insist you reconsider my curfew"? Probably not. "That's so not fair! Why can't I stay out just a few hours later?" Seems way more likely. It uses modern lingo, and is more combative to reflect the tone.

    If you can't picture anyone in real life spouting the dialogue you just wrote for your character, or you sound a little silly/pompous/antiquated saying it yourself, the wording might need a do-over.

    Remember also that people talk with their bodies! You don't need a character to say "I'm sad" or spam descriptors like 'sadly' if their body language is already saying it. This falls under "show, don't tell", too. Showing a character who looks sad paints a better picture than telling "I'm sad" or "he looked sad", and allows the reader to interpret the mood for themselves, instead of having the answer pushed at them
    #20 Minibit, Feb 17, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2015
    • Like Like x 1
    • Thank Thank x 1
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.