Monday, June 4, 2012

Visceral description

...and not the good kind ;)

I don't just like beautiful description... I like any kind, as long as it's visceral.

By that, I mean it hits you deep down. Like, any *good* vomit reference should make the reader feel a little queazy.

Okay, my CP's know this already... but there's always at least one vomit reference in the stories I write.*

'Brake Fluid' has... oh, more than a few. One of my favourites is:

Another crumpled twenty went in Triss’ pocket when Jaymin didn’t make it to the sink and yakked a swirl of vodka and cheesies into an ugly potted fern.

...the word 'swirl' really sells this line for me... especially since cheesies have such an amazing chemical-orange-vibrancy. The precision of the image is what I like... the visual of a chemical-orange-liquid-swirl.

But it's not just vomit references that I take the time to choose a perfect concoction of words. So far, Chapter 14 has a few lines like this:

The words boil out in a liquid blubber

Only the high pitched laugh that scratched out of my chest like a spooked alley-cat.

I knuckle away the tears, shove my nose into my shoulder and wipe my face clean of snot and drool.

...well, there are more, but they're too spoiler-ish to post. Obviously they still need tweaking... but I like the bones of them, the precise combinations of words.

Honestly, I think I take more pleasure in writing lines like these... ones that hit the 'ick' button, rather than the flowing, perfectly crafted lines that are beautiful to read.

...and I think it's probably a very good thing that I don't write love/sex scenes.

What kinds of description do you enjoy writing? Do you find some kinds are harder than others?

*Don't ask me why, I swear, it's not even on purpose... it's like they just slink in there when my brain is occupied elsewhere...


  1. I'm so terrible about description. My stories tend to be very thin when I draft them, and I have to go back and add in description later. It's something my betas complain about the most, either not enough description or description feeling forced.

    I do enjoy both visceral description and beautiful description. It just depends on the mood of the story.

    1. No need to put yourself down, 'cause I do the same thing! First drafts are always pretty thin, then I fill it in later.

      Personally, I find it easier to add it in on the second pass because by then, I've got a better handle on the character (so it's easier to slip into their head and look at the world/describe in their voice), but also 'cause when I'm doing that second pass, I try to go through it as a reader... which tends to limit my impulse to shove in more description than necessary.

  2. Well, the swirl did it for me too. Such a 'pretty' word used so creatively here.

    Hmm. Lately, I've enjoyed writing descriptive scenes from the perspective of my MC that reveal her observations on the people in her life and the nuances of personality that come through in things like body language, or patterns of behaviour.

    1. Ah, that sounds like fun :D

      I'm just... slightly obsessed with body language/etc ;)

  3. the following is one of my favs from Nineteen Hundred but it didn't come from my imagaination. I was working on the scene and we went to the park. I took notes on what I observed and used that.

    Kathryn trekked back to the boarding house, blind to the still lovely afternoon and the people enjoying the weather; blind to the white clouds streaming in the pale blue sky, the geese marching in formation honking away, the sun reflecting off the lake. She barely heard a mother call her son. “Magnus! Where are you now?” The woman laughed as she hunted for the boy. But laughter had no place in Kathryn’s world at the moment.


Type me out a line of Shakespeare or a line of nonsense. Dumb-blonde-jokes & Irish jokes will make me laugh myself silly :)