Friday, May 28, 2010

Describing the Unfamiliar

So, you've taken upon yourself the seemingly simple task of writing a story that centralizes around an unfamiliar object. Once you've seen the item of interest, it becomes quite easy to identify -- but how do you relay that description to someone who is still unfamiliar with the object at hand?

I made quite a bit of progress on my project since my last post. Coincidentally, however, life has a way of complicating things. I've got to study for and pass a test within a very short time frame and my professional life is being turned completely upside down and inside out in the realization of a long-time goal of mine. The last month has been somewhat of an emotional roller coaster for me, but it does feel good to finally have the opportunity to leave the life of a contract employee and move on to the prospect of Civil Service employment. As a disabled veteran, it should have been easy by all accounts but it took five and a half long years of applications before I got, not one but two, offers.

Somewhere between here and the latest post on HuntingtheMuse I turned 30, held my annual birthday BBQ, and tried to make some semblance of effort towards a decent garden this year. The weather has been horribly uncooperative. Needless to say, I've been swamped. This upcoming test being a large part of my stress at the moment. So, yes, while I am very close to having the first draft of my latest project ready, I still have some ways to go before it is complete.

This is where you come in. Please comment on this post with your description of the items in the picture below. I would like to get an idea of how other people see them as I have become all too familiar in these passing weeks.


Unknown said...

I used this as an exercise with my 10 year old daughter after writing this post. I asked her to describe the object while I wrote down what she said. Then I had her read the description to her mother and ask if she could tell what it was.

Once she had done that, I wrote my own description and had her read it. My wife was able to tell what it was, but she'd seen one before.

Since writing is a portal for the imagination, we don't need to paint a perfect picture with our description. We merely need to get the point across with enough detail to make the important items stick out.

Feel free to post your descriptions and I will post mine in my next blog entry. This exercise with my daughter helped us both out. She got a little insight into how descriptions of items must make sense to the person you are explaining it to, and I got insight not only as a writer, but as a father as well.

Jim Murdoch said...

Three large seeds, like elongated Sugar Puffs, each with a claw-like nib on the end.

Clint the Cool Guy said...

Looks like slivers of walnuts, or cocoa beans :)

BTW, My writing habits also still stink, despite all my lofty resolutions. D'oh!

Nice post, though. I don't know how to describe the unknown so well. I just do the best I can with my writing / telepathic skills, and hope the reader gets it!

Hope you have a great day :)

Lynn Mitchell said...

Three wrinkled three-fourth inch carmel-colored pods, each with pointy ends. They look similar to broken pieces of pecan.

Unknown said...

Brown, wrinkled and seed-like, the three teeth of the Magi appeared in his palm.