Evoking visions with very few words - posted by Eryan

User avatar
rednell
Posts: 1798

Evoking visions with very few words - posted by Eryan

Post#1 » Thu Jan 01, 1970 12:00 am

Eryan,
You have wonderful insight! Tolkien was an artist and illustrator, as well as, a remarkable writer. I believe having both these gifts enabled him to paint such splendid pictures with words.
I also believe this is one of the reasons when we see paintings by Tolkien artists they often look just as you pictured it in your mind. He gives them every detail right down to the light and shadows.

Thank-you for sharing this marvelous reflection on Tolkien's writings. :D

User avatar
valedhelgwath
Posts: 4233

Evoking visions with very few words - posted by Eryan

Post#2 » Thu Jan 01, 1970 12:00 am

(Sorry, I accidently deleted this post. fortunately I was able to retrieve it. - Rednell)
I bet your heart missed a few beats there, Rednell :superscared: While moving several posts into a different thread last week I accidently lost part of one of Glorfinel's posts and was not so lucky at refinding it. Luckily Glorfinel accepted my apologies and was able to repost the lost paragraph. It would have been a tragedy if this post of Eryan's had suffered the same fate.

You have a wonderful knack of extracting the best paragraphs, Eryan. Taken together, these make a really nice post. Once I've finished reading the Silmarillion, I think I shall go back and re-read LotR.

User avatar
grondmaster
Posts: 25451

Evoking visions with very few words - posted by Eryan

Post#3 » Thu Jan 01, 1970 12:00 am

Eryan's fine examples of Tolkien's painting with words, provide such graphic pictures that I can almost taste them. And yes, when we view an artist's rendition of one of Tolkien's scenes, it is very like what our mind's eye pictured, because Tolkien used such great multi-faceted descriptions in setting his scenes. :orcthumbs:
'Share and enjoy'

User avatar
Allyssa
Posts: 1657

Evoking visions with very few words - posted by Eryan

Post#4 » Thu Jan 01, 1970 12:00 am

Clarity and conciseness of expression are crucial elements to good writing, as Eryan pointed out with reference to Tolkien.

Many writers start out by putting in too much detail in their writing, becase they have not yet developed confidence in their own expression.

For example:

"John banged his forhead against the steering wheel in frustration."

Do we really need the last two words? Why do people usually deliberately head but their steering wheel? All we really need is:

"John banged his head against the steering wheel."

The reader is able to gather that John is frustrated, without being told by the narrator.

This kind of revising is what leads to tight, concise but clear prose. Tolkien was an expert writer, and his writing shows that he knew just how much detail to include so that the reader got a clear image, without overburdening them with explaining the obvious. As readers, we enjoy being able to "work out what is happening" on our own a little bit.

An example that I like:
"Now the little plane drops and the fat woman sitting next to him yelps and spills her coffee; his tray of food goes flying. With eyes closed he begins to count, one...and two...and three: a religious man, he thinks, might now decide to pray. Then it is over, they survive, and as the eighteen-seater settles high above the rift of blue which separates the island from the mainland, the pilot quickly and calmly sends his apologies." - Julia Leigh, The Hunter

In less than a paragraph, we get a clear image that the airline flight is experiencing turbulence (yet the word 'turbulence' is never used), the type of man the protagonist is (intelligent but unkind) and even a hint about the destination (small aircraft, few passangers - somwhere remote?).

I will try to bring in another (better) quote tomorrow.
"May the Angels Guide"

Eryan
Posts: 845

Evoking visions with very few words - posted by Eryan

Post#5 » Thu Jan 01, 1970 12:00 am

A nice quote Allyssa!
What you wrote about too many unnecessary details as a symptom of immaturity of the writer is very true! Look at that fragment of the "LAy of Leithian" describing Beren's coming to Doriath. Just four lines, and we know that he is alone and sorrowing, that he just had some hard time (came form the mountains cold), but that now he is in an enchanted land (suggested just by the two wodrs, Elven-river). We feel sympathy and compassion for him and we assume that he is a hero and not a villain, although this is not explicitly stated! We do not know anything more, but we assume that he is a nice man (and he might have been an evil, ugly bad-smelling Orc - they also can be alone and sorrowing I suppose!)
Returning to the question of too many words/details, I am more and more worried about it in my own writing. I showed fragments of my texts to several persons (including my mother) and only one of them told me that she liked my manner of writing - but even that person warned me that I am "painting with words using too much paint"! All others told me that my texts ares far too wordy. My cardinal sin is that I often cannot choose a single adjectif and I am putting more of them in a string which makes the text very heavy. And, most annoying of all, when I return to some fragments of my text after a longer while, I see that although I put too much unnecessary details, many necessary details are still missing!!!!


User avatar
Allyssa
Posts: 1657

Evoking visions with very few words - posted by Eryan

Post#6 » Thu Jan 01, 1970 12:00 am

If you post some, maybe the guild can help, Eryan? :D

I know that over description has been a problem for me at times too. I also am trying to learn to "show" the reader, not "tell" the reader.

For example:

"Elrond was seasick"

is pretty boring to read

"Elrond leaned over the railing of the rocking ship. His face was tinged green and his stomach heaved in time with the surf."

Is more interesting because the reader gets to 'guess' what is happening. It also gives 'picture' of the action.
"May the Angels Guide"

Eryan
Posts: 845

Evoking visions with very few words - posted by Eryan

Post#7 » Thu Jan 01, 1970 12:00 am

My writing is in Polish so the guild won't be able to help me I'm afraid! :D
As for showing and not telling, I am doing this all the time and I was proud of it... and then my readers complained that Ii'm "bombing" them with vivid, suggestive images which haunt them afterwards and leave no place for imagination... and that this manner of writing is tiring... I was much surprised but almost all of them told me so, except one person who told me that she liked that! And you know what? This only person is very fond of fantasy as a genre, and all others do not like fantasy so much! I wonder whether this is a simple coincidence, perhaps not? Perhaps I should seek only the opinion of people who actually do like fantasy? nn[Edited on 2/12/2002 by Eryan]

User avatar
grondmaster
Posts: 25451

Evoking visions with very few words - posted by Eryan

Post#8 » Thu Jan 01, 1970 12:00 am

Perhaps I should seek only the opinion of people who actually do like fantasy?
If what you are writing is fantasy then readers of only technical writing and murder mysteries are probably not the best judges of your genre. :happyelf:
'Share and enjoy'

User avatar
Allyssa
Posts: 1657

Evoking visions with very few words - posted by Eryan

Post#9 » Thu Jan 01, 1970 12:00 am

I agree with Grondy. I have found that the most helpful and constructive feedback comes from people who read fantasy. Do you know any other fantasy readers/writers Eryan? I think you need some more (expert) opinions. :D
"May the Angels Guide"

Eryan
Posts: 845

Evoking visions with very few words - posted by Eryan

Post#10 » Thu Jan 01, 1970 12:00 am

Not really, Allyssa! But, to tell the truth, I think that for a writer it is best to follow his/her own taste and to hope that he/she will find at least some readers with a similar taste and mentality, than to try to please everybody... So I decided that I will try to write texts which I myself would like to read... and if they will remain unpublished, let it be! I only regret I am not writing in English, because I won't be able to share them with my iforeign friends... but my Polish vocabulary is so much richer!
Returning to the question of painting with few words, there is a remarkable quote from the Russian writer Czekhov, quoted by a Polish writer Stanislaw Mackiewicz as a perfect example of that skill (attention, I am giving here this quote in my own clumsy translation):
Rays of moon were reflected from an empty sardine tin thrown into the corner of a ferry
As stressed by Mackiewicz, these few words are sufficient to create a complex vision of a peaceful moonlit night on a river, and also to suggest what happened before (presence of some rather rude people...). I agree!

Return to “Writers Guild”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron