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    The Creators' Retreat: Here Be Artsy Nerds
    • I am the worst when it comes to descriptions. All my life, I've had difficulty with visualising details, facial or otherwise, and that has translated into my writing quite a lot. I get around it by giving some general details, like hair colour and obvious plot relevant features (e.g. scars), and leave the rest of the details (like skin colour) to the reader to fill in themselves.

      If I can get away with it, I use mental images that I can assume my readers know about to describe the characters. For example, one of the character in my big fanfic is introduced as "The Angel". By throwing in a few prayers and references to God, I can make it clear that is character's appearance is that of a biblical angel, with the added characterization that she actually believes that herself.

      (She does have wings and can create fire with her mind. No one wants to correct her assumption :P )

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Axius27 ().

    • Honestly I find physical descriptions not that hard though I tend to leave the clothes more general. I tend to focus in on a lot of noted features - like when I'm writing Ventus at some point in the story it starts out in the prologue with his wild pale blonde hair which almost looks silver in the moonlight by comparing it against his father's mane-like sun-kissed golden one. By like the third chapter his eyes are described - in conjunction with his mothers, and more direct parallels are drawn between her and her son. I don't do a description dump all at once, but by the end of the story the readers would know what they look like down to the detail. This way it gives me more time to think on what a character actually does look like and if they are growing up over a period of time, how might they change. I do it a lot by comparing or contrasting them against other people or musings about themselves. This also allows me to focus in on certain elements if its important to the story or to that character. Ventus has a few items which are dear to him and I keep it fresh in the player's memory by describing it in detail once and then casually bringing it up with nervous ticks or habits.

      Like Arwyn had a necklace which was an important bond to her - a crystal leaf necklace - which she would touch or play with whenever she felt lonely or missed her family, or was particularly upset about something. Since giving that to her best friend for gay reasons, she has a ring she's made that she fiddles with now for similar reasons.

      I find working in small details like that and using little physical descriptions really gives a good way to express body language and to better show not tell.

      :heart: Rinn “Arwyn” Nailo drawn by Liah :heart:
      Rakshael: if I know one thing about Ruki, it's that she'll prove you wrong just for the sake of saying she did it
      Characters | The Time Lost | The Rumors We Believe | Ruki's Reviews
    • I’m pretty terrible at character descriptions. I tend to focus on things that make them stand out or help define their character.
      "This is the tale of an ancient land of lush forests and verdant meadows. A land blessed by the Goddesses where the powers of light and shadow exist in perfect balance. This is the story of the kingdom of Hyrule, of a king who sought to control the power of the gods, and of a boy without a fairy. A boy whose struggle against the shadow became a legend, riding upon the Winds of Time..."

      A novelization of The Legend of Zelda- Ocarina of Time (Complete & Revised)

      Click here for the audiobook edition.

    • Would you guys mind looking over a description for a character I wrote and giving feedback?

      Next to Lili, also lying on her stomach, is Vidia Burke. Standing at 5’3, her shortness is a sore spot for her. Her physique is almost boyish and she’s rather flat chested but she tries very hard to be feminine. Unfortunately for her, due to her parents restrictions, she doesn’t really get farther than average sized shorts, shirts without sleeves, and shirts with straps if she really pushes it. She’s nigh blind without her large glasses under which she has large ox-like eyes. Her sandy brown hair is short, only going to the base of her skull, much to her displeasure.

      Sig by TruEdge67, Glorious Newbie Overlord
    • @BackSet-Chan I like it!! it gives you a nice insight into her character, I feel like I have a good idea what kind of a person she is :o!


      But like while we're on the topic... im like, Not a writer but i did read a piece of advice in this article that made writing descriptions feel infinitely more accessible to me?

      jackalediting wrote:

      Think of description like camera focus. The more you describe something, the more focus you put on it.

      If you put enough focus on something, you eliminate everything else. What’s this? A close-up. What does a close-up in a movie tell you? That object of the close-up is significant.

      I struggled with like all of it, not just describing characters so this might not be as helpful to other people as it is to me, I dunno! but as someone who has studied film & animation and makes comics, approaching description like camera shots makes things make much more... tangible? So I thought I'd share!

      And maybe I can expand on it a little as a visual storyteller??

      Here's a snippet from floobynooby's very good post about cinematography,

      Floobynooby wrote:

      In animation, the term staging refers to the purpose of directing the audience's attention, and make it clear what is of greatest importance in a scene; what is happening, and what is about to happen. This can be done by various means, such as the placement of a character in the frame, the use of light and shadow, and the angle and position of the camera.

      To give you an example -

      In the early days of film, instead of cutting the camera to focus in on what's important at that particular moment, filmmakers would just use a longshot and it would be like watching things being acted out on stage. It's not clear who the first person to use a close-up was, and its been a few years since i studied the history of film but ANYWAY.

      There was this one instance where this guy, he got a letter and it like started out as your standard long-shot unmoving camera, but then when he picked it up, the view changed to a close up of the envelope. It's such a small thing, but the change in focus changes so much about the scene - it highlights the envelope as important, and puts us in the eyes of the man himself. It directs the audience's attention to the most important thing in the scene!

      In term of writing, thinking of your words as where the camera is pointing helps you know what to describe, I think. Like.... okay, here's a comic that I made recently (apologies for the roughness I didn't have a lot of time to make it) -

      And then here's like a written version of it?

      Display Spoiler
      "So you've never seen the ocean?" Tempest said.

      The crackling fire and occasional clink of cups hitting plates and murmured discussion filled in the silence as Kabira held her gaze. A no, then.
      Tempest grinned and set her ale down, leaning forwards into her hand.

      "Would you like to?"


      Tempest crested the hill and hopped off her horse, feet crunching on the shoots of grass in the almost powdery dirt. The closer they got the drier the earth seemed to get, the lush vegetation Kabira had grown accustomed to was starting to give way into smaller patches of grass and reeds. The wind was much stronger here too, and with it came a strong scent of... salt. Kabira watched as Tempest looked out into the distance.

      "We're here. That's Port Llast down there. Close your eyes darling."

      Kabira's brow furrowed. "Why?"

      "It'll be fun, the view is better up close!" She turned back, eyes dancing with mischief as she looked down at her, "Besides, I want to see your face. It's fine, I'll be your eyes - just follow me."


      "I thought I told you to keep your eyes closed?" Tempest said looking up at her, one hand wrapped around her forearm, the other pointing at her own eyes. Kabira grunted noncommittally, but closed her eyes regardless.

      Fresh fish, rotten fish, stale ale, people... and most all - salt. The air here was thick with scents and sounds, Kabira could taste it. They were walking through a market, Kabira had glimpsed as much, and she could hear the merchants bartering and the people gossiping around her, as well as the constant piercing cries of some kind of bird.

      They walked for some time, Tempest humming at her side as she lead her through the streets. Eventually the sounds of people began to fall away and in its place came the wind again - as well as a new sound, water. Moving. She felt a hand brush against hers, and Tempest's grip loosened as she stepped away from Kabira. Beneath her, the texture of the earth changed suddenly - the solid ground giving way to something soft, and she felt herself sink an inch into the earth.

      "Okay," Tempest's voice came from her left, "You can open your eyes now."

      When she opened her eyes, the first thing that hit her was how blue everything was. The ocean, the sky, Tempest's hand against hers. To her credit, it was certainly very impressive. The blue expanse seemed endless, eternal. She'd never seen anything like it.

      If we start with like the first scene, in the comic I did an establishing shot - I drew out the tavern, and in fact I made a rough floor plan of the tavern before I drew it, so I could position the "camera" and know what would be visible:

      And, having drawn out the background I had anchored my characters into an environment, I then zoomed into some close-ups - confident that having established the environment, I wouldn't need to draw a background for you to know where they are.

      In the written version, I could have like spent an entire paragraph describing the bar and the tables and the various patrons in the room and the stair and the balcony etc etc etc... Like I know it's all there, I planned out the whole room!
      But I didn't because I wasn't trying to create like, an overhead shot that pans around the room you know?? just like a quick establishing shot was what i wanted since the scene was gonna change anyway, so i only wrote a couple sentences.

      So like... idk, thinking of it in terms of shots helps me at least to know how much to describe things, how long to linger on a particular thing because the more you describe and linger the longer the "shot" lasts and zooms in.

      Also different kinds of shots give a different tone to the scene:

      Thusly, what you focus your description on will also change the tone. e.g.:

      "So you've never seen the ocean?" Kabira just looked at her silently.

      Her eyebrows quirked. "So you've never seen the ocean before?" Tempest said, a mischievous smile spreading across her face. She leaned forwards. "Would you like to?"

      This one actually doesn't fit this comic at all, but I used a very similar shot in another comic once and here's how I'd write that one:
      She fell silent, turning her gaze away. "Hey Chocho, do you... Do you really like boys?" she said after a moment, her fingers twisting in her lap. "Romantically?" she added. Her voice was tinged with... something. Sadness? Fear? Hope?

      To me, before, when it came to writing descriptions I had no idea where to start. How could I possibly begin to describe things, when there's so many things I could describe?? Do i need to describe the characters? do I need to describe the furnishing?? For me, scenes in my head are very much visual and in motion - characters are gesticulating, they walk, sit, lean... I'm always thinking about a character's acting, and capturing that in a comic is very easy to do!
      But when it comes to writing it, I just wouldn't know where to begin. When I make a comic I fill in the space with things you can literally see - but when you're writing things, you have to put that image into someone's head with words. Thats so hard! "A picture's worth a thousand words" - how do I write even like 5 of those words?????

      But then that piece of advice - thinking of it like framing in film - changed things completely. What's important to the shot? That shield decoration on the wall in the back, or tempest's expression?

      In terms of describing characters Specifically, I don't think you necessarily need to freeze the story to describe the character? Like. Hm.

      If you're thinking about the camera, in some films (stories) there might be a shot where the camera lingers on a character so you can take in their appearance. A camera following and slowly turning around a character walking down stairs as they reveal their big costume change would certainly translate to a long description of their appearance, and not hold up the story unnecessarily.

      But if the shot was like... in the middle of a chase, or a fight, or something really high action - it would be very odd for the camera to suddenly freeze on a character to slowly pan down them and show you what socks theyre wearing or whatever, or zoom in really close to their eyes so you can see Just How Blue They Are and how they've tied their hair back into a really neat braid.

      Does that make sense?? I don't think there's anything wrong with never really describing a character all at once. Being completely honest, no matter what you do without direct visuals nobody is ever going to see what you see, so I wouldn't get too hung up on trying to get the exact image of the character into someone's head.

      When I design a character as an artist, I'm trying to tell you about them as a person in how they look. I think the same applies to writing? The color of the vest and pants that Callisto wears doesn't say much about her as a character, but the way her clothes look a little plain compared to the gold hilted sword at her waist, combined with the way she seems to fold into herself and avoid people's gaze tells you something about her as a character I think.

      Man I don't know! I'm just rambling at this point. But I hope its a little helpful anyway.

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    • oh ruki beat me to it alkfgbkgh, inkarnate is good! Do be aware though, despite you making it and it being your work, inkarnate do still own your map so if you're planning to publish you do need to be aware of this.

      But on that note more recently (as in last month recently), a new map making software came out into beta called Wonderdraft! It's paid only but it seems pretty neat and more customisable than inkarnate? :o
      & theres also campaign cartographer!

      That all said if you would like to make your own map entirely, Cartographer's Guild has a lot of tutorials on how to do that, that's the link to their highlighted tutorials but you can find the whole tutorial forum here :^)

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      this post was brought you by a 100% authentic human being and definitely NOT a bear
    • Hey guys, sign ups for the The Role Play Creative Corner Tournament end next week! We have three fantastic teams, but just in case you forgot - or are new here - winners can get a Steam game of their choice under $20. If you wanna know how, just click this link, get a partner and sign up!

      :heart: Rinn “Arwyn” Nailo drawn by Liah :heart:
      Rakshael: if I know one thing about Ruki, it's that she'll prove you wrong just for the sake of saying she did it
      Characters | The Time Lost | The Rumors We Believe | Ruki's Reviews
    • So I got a record low number of submissions for the November writing contest—zero—and unfortunately, we can't enter the voting phase when there's nothing to vote for.

      We're going to try something new next month: instead of a super-broad, one-word theme, we're going to have a writing prompt. Hopefully, prospective entrants will find this much more accessible.
      [Short Stories] | [EzloSpirit's Hub] | [Latest ZUCast Episode]
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      Current Adoptee: Zaynock
      [This space reserved for the April Writing Contest.]
    • I think "Whimsy" was just too vague a term for November's contest. It's hard to define, let alone write about. That's what prevented me from participating (that and I kind of forgot :P). I had an idea I ran by @Ruki, but I didn't think it really counted as "whimsical".

      But yeah, a more specific prompt might work better. It's worth a try at any rate.

      BotW Zelda in her purple Hylian Gear, by my husband, D4rkSilver
    • So, I've never really experimented with using liquor in cooking until recently, other than the wine that I put in chowders. It's really interesting to see what kind of delicious flavor creations I could make with stuff like rum, bourbon, wine, and tequila. Various things in my mind are, of course, pancakes with rum cooked in it, tequila shrimp marinade, rum brownies, pecan pie with dark rum cooked into the pecan mixture, soups with wine cooked in like french onion soup, and bourbon sweet potatoes.
    • Milo doesn’t taste too bad in chocolate mousse. Sometimes I add that.
      "This is the tale of an ancient land of lush forests and verdant meadows. A land blessed by the Goddesses where the powers of light and shadow exist in perfect balance. This is the story of the kingdom of Hyrule, of a king who sought to control the power of the gods, and of a boy without a fairy. A boy whose struggle against the shadow became a legend, riding upon the Winds of Time..."

      A novelization of The Legend of Zelda- Ocarina of Time (Complete & Revised)

      Click here for the audiobook edition.