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Thursday, August 13, 2015

IWSG (24) — Do You See What I See?

As my reader, I expect you to have the smarts to follow along my line of thought. I expect you to understand the tone I'm trying to convey. I expect you to get every single "ah-ha" moment and be like "wow." 

I expect you to see what I see.

(hee hee hee)

But of course it's not up to me to expect of you. Sorry, was my that line confusing? Did I not write it clear enough? Exactly the problem! 

If I don't make it so you know what I mean without a doubt, then I fail. 

If I don't paint that picture with colors, and smells, and textures and such, then how are you to know that my zombies actually smell like roses and not like rotten guts? And no, I don't have any zombies in any book of mine. But if I did, I might have them hiding in your garden and you'd go smell the roses and BAMM they'd scare the bejesus outta you . . . and then munch on your pretty brain, naturally. 

There's such disconnect in what we see and what we write. 
Why? Because we know what we mean. 

We have automatic fillers on top that. For example, I see an "of" in my previous sentence right before "that." And how dare you not see it too? One of my problems is describing places. I know what I see when I say Annie is in the kitchen and behind her is the living room. I can see it's an open concept. She's sitting on the stool by the island with the black granite countertop. Her elbows are resting on it—red coffee cup in hand. Behind her is that beige couch facing the 70" plasma TV on the opposite end. I can hear the smoke alarm going off, because once again, Annie burnt something (she's just not good in the kitchen). I can smell how the aroma of the coffee changed to smoke inhalation in a matter of seconds. But do I write it? Nah . . .  because surely, if I say Annie jumped off the stool to shush the smoke alarm, you know she's in the kitchen and understand the layout of her house. So wrong. I'm exaggerating here, but the point is we expect people to know and see what's in our heads as we write.

And this isn't necessarily a Show v. Tell post, by the way. It's about deciding what details are important. Info-dumps need not apply. I must know what has to stay and what has to go. I have to know what's necessary for the story but still give enough information so the reader is there with Annie. I have to describe what the zombies smell like because you might assume they're disgusting. Okay, so somethings are a given . . . because I mean, they're zombies—but you know what I mean. I have to be able to tell what I'm stubbornly holding on to just because I like how it sounds, or what's lacking. Either ALL of that or go in search of new readers who can visualize things my way. No such luck, eh?

Most importantly I see that this post makes no sense outside of my head. But if you're smart, only if you're smart, you'll get what I'm saying :P

So I have issues describing places, 
though people ought to know what a basic kitchen looks like in my head,
amirite? . . . err . . .
What areas do you struggle with when it comes to 
assuming your readers can read your mind?

**This is obviously before revisions or before CPs & betas get their eyes on it ;)

This post is part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group hop.
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!  Posting is first Wednesday of every month. Click here for more info.


  1. I totally think you should write that zombie-roses thing! :)

  2. I'm going to think twice now before I go wandering in any gardens.... :)

  3. I'm horrible at describing scenes...I always jump right in and my editor has to remind me to tell the reader where we ARE. Maybe I should've been a screenwriter!

  4. Exactly! We can see it, but we forget the reader can't see it unless we describe it. And I still struggle with descriptions.
    Those would be some sneaky and dangerous zombies.

  5. Ugh. Descriptions. But it's the descriptions of emotions that really get me. It's hard to remember that everyone can't see into our brains...Oh, and I'm glad they can't. How scary would that be!

  6. I have a terrible time with descriptions. By far the hardest part of writing to me.
    Love this picture you included LOL.

  7. Readers can't see what's going on in our minds? Heh. Years ago, I used to write long descriptions. They were too much. Nowadays, I have to make sure I put in enough details so that the reader does see what I'm imagining. It's the opposite problem! I need to find that happy balance.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and good luck in when your children start kindergarten! :)

  8. I often wonder if readers see my stories like I do. I try to find a good balance between describing enough they can see it without going overboard, but still, I wonder. And I'll never know, because I'll never be able to read one of my stories with a blank canvas in my mind. I already know what's painted on it.

    Great post. :)
    IWSG #119 until Alex culls the list again.

  9. I always do my best to write vividly in my first draft and add more in my first round of revision. Then I cull things that aren't necessary.

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  11. First time through is easier to tell, and then go back and figure out the show, lol, which leaves more than one revision of course.

    I find action post hardest I think, figuring out the words to convey the picture rather than a step by step layout of dance routine. I want the reader to see my head movie as I see the scene, rather than the choreographed steps of a diagram.

    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

  12. it's funny, I thought it was just me who had issues with describing layouts and rooms! I always go overboard and info dump, describing where the kitchen is in relation to the dining room...and I always cut cut cut in revisions lol

  13. It's so hard to transfer what's inside your head to a piece of paper. SO HARD. I'm struggling right now with the first epic fantasy I've tried to write, because I keep second-guessing myself about how real this world feels. But that's why we have beta readers and CPs!

  14. This is definitely your niche. Write what you feel!

  15. I'd say I struggle with just about 100% of anything writing-involved. Settings are really a challenge because I could write description until the entire world went to sleep. Knowing when to stop has always been one of my issues--insecure issues.

  16. It's like trying to convey a dream. The details are hazy but we try to get the point across.

  17. A very clever and thoughtful post. I don't have many problems with descriptions. Mine are with characters that I know so well that I forget to add details and explain motivations so the readers can understand them too. Luckily my CPs slap me around till I add enough! lol

  18. Such a great post - this is why the CPs are so important - they tell me what I'm missing. :)

    If I was the tattoo artist in the picture, I'd be really scared. lol

  19. So I totally laughed at the tattoo picture. And yes, I get what you're saying—does that make me smart? :) I think that's why it's so important for us to have others read our stuff. They can point out what doesn't make sense and where there needs to be more details or places where it is all telling and no showing. Beta readers and critique partners are the best!

  20. My first drafts always suck with description. At some point I have to make sure to go back and describe stuff. And name places. I like making up towns and cities so I can lay them out how I want, but then I forget ti give it a name.

  21. Great post.
    I have a lot of trouble with this. Too much in one area and not enough in another.
    There has to be a happy medium!


  22. i'm so bad at descriptions - definitely a minimalist in that department, not assuming the reader will know, but forgetting about what they might think, until that round of edits anyway... i always add, i know my major malfunction and address as needed. great examples - and i know that annie girl =)

  23. It's definitely a balancing act. Then again, this is a good argument in favour of pantsing - then I am finding out what happens at the same time as the reader and I don't necessarily know more than they do. :)

  24. It's certainly about striking the perfect balance - enough detail to know what's going on, but not so much detail that it becomes boring. No one likes purple prose. I would like to hear more about these zombies, though. How about ones that smell like fresh baked cookies? Oh, I would be SO dead.

  25. Hi Katherine,
    Stopped by to tell you I nominated you for a blogging award. Please stop by dhdunne.blogspot.com to find out more.

  26. I always try and pay close attention to this, because I have so much going on in my story. Some things just slip through, though, which is why I'm so lucky to have awesome critique partners. :-)