Monday, 28 February 2011

Quote of the week - Descriptions



A home is not a mere transient shelter: its essence lies in the personalities of the people who live in it

Henry Louis Mencken


What I love about this quote is that it illustrates so well how we can shape the way we describe something. We could simply describe what we see. We could describe, as Mr Mencken suggests, its essence based on the personalities of the people who live in it. We could describe it in terms of the thoughts and memories it evokes in us as an author, or for a character in the story. We could describe it from the point of view of its history. There is no end to the different aspects, or combinations of aspects, we can use in a description.

The aspects we chose to use in our descriptions help to define the character of our writing. It places that character under our control and gives us infinite scope for expression.

17 comments:

  1. Some food for thought, and on the subject, you might find this interesting:
    http://alisonstevens.blogspot.com/2011/02/super-snooper-blogfest.html

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  2. Great quote. Description is one of my writing weaknesses and yet describing a location or where somebody lives can tell us so much!

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  3. Knew I'd forgotten something - I've spoken to Madeleine and she'd love to meet up. How does next Tuesday (8th) sound to you and Margo?

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  4. Angeline; Yes, the blogfest looks interesting. I'll have to think about whether I've got time for one then, though. Everything seems a bit manic at the moment.

    Ellie; Sounds great. I've sent you an email.

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  5. When I see an old house, I find myself speculating about the families who made their home in the deserted house. I wonder about how they celebrated events, if there was happiness bouncing off the walls, etc. I feel myself going into the home, and experiencing the inhabitants echoes. Susan

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  6. I love contemplating description and how I want to characterize it. I like that quote a lot.

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  7. I love that quote. It's so true. It's through our characters that truly a story comes alive. To simply describe a setting without the effect of how it is perceived and felt by the character, then we've accomplished nothing. Through their eyes, everything else receives its meaning and purpose.

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  8. Great post on description, and I love the quote!

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  9. I never thought about this, but you're absolutely right. It can also be said that we can create the atmosphere of the story by how we describe things or by how the character sees them.

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  10. I'll never forget...

    In a book by John C. Gardner: the exercise to write a description of a barn from the viewpoint of an old man who's mourning the death of his military son...

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  11. I love this quote. So much of who we are is littered throughout our homes from the choice of wall color to the nicknacks (or lack of) on the windowsills.

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  12. Awesome quote. So true. Henry definitely nailed this one.

    "The aspects we chose to use in our descriptions help to define the character of our writing. It places that character under our control and gives us infinite scope for expression"

    Very well said, Tony.

    Michael

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  13. Great post and thanks for the follow! Nice to meet you!

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  14. Description is not one of my favourite things.. (dialogue is my fav :-)) but perhaps thinking about all the different ways in which I can describe something might help...

    PS. Here's hoping I don't miss your upcoming post on the Kindle!

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  15. You asked if I found your pen. No, but I know where it is. Look in the washing machine, and it will be stuck in the drainage pipe. That is where all my husband's fountain pens go. Good luck. Susan

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  16. Yes. Exactly. How wonderful that we have so many choices, only limited by our imaginations.

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