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Tuesday, 5 April 2011

D: Delicious Description

I'm a great Film and TV Sci Fi fan, but when it comes to reading Sci Fi novels I'm not so keen.

WHY?

I guess it's because generally they are written in a certain (blokie) style of writing involving:
  • lots of action (which I do also appreciate up to a point)
  • more heavy on the telling than showing, (ie. less emotion and feelings);
  • lots of technical detail
While, I prefer the delicious showing through description and the emotion, as in the opening scene of  'The Wife's Tale' by Lori Lansens:

Such delicious description awakens the reader's mind to the MC's mood, her environment and the act which she's performing with just the right amount of detail.

In less capable hands this scene could be less uninteresting and informative or even somewhat sleazy.

Lori Lansens uses the perfect simile: 'Then inhaling the air like a post coital cigaratte'

She uses great imagery: peeling and spilling forth and creamy and by using the word 'blousy' you begin to realise that this is a large lady.

Instead of saying 'roof', she specifies 'slate roof'.

Inside of 'home', she tells us 'small rural home'

Do you excite the senses for your readers by using delicious description to bring to life the textures, sounds, tastes, smells and sights?

Do you prefer books that show or tell?

18 comments:

  1. I feel the same way about Sci-fi novels. I always have a hard time working up the will to read one.

    I prefer a novel to show instead of tell. I appreciate the effort that goes into that.


    M.J. Fifield
    My Pet Blog

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  2. What a beautiful piece of description. They don't come along that often, but I love finding the little literary gems that make you smile at their sheer brilliance (I have even been known to whoop!) Another amazing example of this, that I urge you all to read, is 'The Lacuna' by Barbara Kingsolver.

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  3. It's hard to come up with a passage as good as the one you quoted. I wonder if it came out fully formed or if she had to rewrite in numerous times. Very interesting post.
    cheers,
    mood
    Moody Writing

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  4. Like you, even I do not read sci-fi novels. Must put the book The Wife's Tale on my TBR pile. The passage you quoted is beautiful and full of vivid imagery. Definitely something we should strive for.

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  5. A beautiful passage, Madeleine.

    As you know I love to read and write science fiction and up to a point I do agree with you - sci fi novels can be more technical. By there nature they deal with things out of the ordinary. However I do not agree with your assertion they are tell more than show, and it is wrong to imply they are just because their style is less literary.

    This morning I finished reading Across The Universe by Beth Revis and it was stunning example of show not tell. The world in which they lived (a generational spaceship) was shown through the emotions and thoughts of the characters and not once did I feel as if the author was simply telling.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts. I'm very passionate about my chosen genre! I hope I haven't offended you.

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  6. What a wonderful passage ... so many pictures in the words, and a lasting impression of this lady ... I'm making a note of the book :-) Have never quite got to grips with Sci Fi in any form. My loss I suspect but that snippet of prose was definitely my gain!
    Thanks ever so much
    All best
    Karla

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  7. I enjoy Sci-Fi though I tend to lean more often to fantasy. That piece you posted is pretty awesome. I am intrigued and will have to check out that book!

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  8. OOoh this is such a delicious extract, thank you! Its voyeurism is held in check by being sensual rather than salacious, liberating rather than licentious!

    I love stories that excite my imagination and transport me elsewhere no matter how! :-)

    Take care
    x

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  9. Wow, that is quite a scene! Certainly DESCRIPTIVE!

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  10. Lovely passage. I like books that show! Though sometimes it can be overdone. Knowing when to go all out with description and when to rein it in is one of those things writers get better at with practice.

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  11. That's a wonderful descriptive piece. So many great images. I prefer a lot of description to not so much action.

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  12. I think there can be such a thing as too much description, but that's mostly in the wording. I do like writing that shows more than tells, though. I like to accurately picture the world I'm reading about. Great "D" post!

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  13. I write sci fi, but not the deep technical stuff to which you refer. I prefer superhero action sci fi writing, which still incorporates the sci fi aspect but is a genre of which I've grown up enjoying more so than the "hard stuff."

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  14. I love reading about technical details . . . LOL. Hard Science Fiction is actually one of my favorite sub-genres, although I do like it when something is described well.

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  15. I LOVE description. As you must be aware by now on my A-Z posts. I am pushing the envelope so to speak.

    I am so glad you're enjoying them, Madeleine.... Thanks for stopping by often.

    Michael

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  16. I love a good description and being able to visualize the moment with vivid clarity.

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  17. Hi Ellie, Sorry if I upset you. I meant that most sci fi novels are written by men with a very blokie style. Beth Revis is a woman who is bound to write in a more emotional way.:O)

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