Description Game

I love the movie Alex & Emma.  Watching an author (however fictional) dictate his story to a stenographer who comments and critiques the whole time is highly entertaining.  I find that it holds some helpful little tidbits of advice for authors, as well.

For example, take one of my favorite comments from Emma (Alex’s response is in parentheses):

I hate it when they do that.  (Who? What?)  You.  Authors.  You use a name like John Shaw and I picture in my mind thin, with a stylish mustache, and then when you finally get around to describing him he’s this fat old fart with a hole in his teeth.

Needless to say, she convinces Alex to change the description of Shaw.  I keep this in mind when I’m introducing a new character or describing a scene, because it’s true.  If you wait too long to give a description, a reader may have already created one based on their own imagination.  When they get to your description, it might irritate them, or clash with their image.  And while it is sometimes worth it to wait to describe someone, and in some cases it’s helpful to encourage the reader to think the wrong thing, I also like to be kind to my readers when I can.

In the spirit of this, I want to play a little game.  I am going to describe some people enjoying food.  At the end I’m going to ask you a question about each food. Are you ready? Here we go.

1. She lifted the plump, glistening berry to her lips.  As she bit into it, sweet juices flooded her mouth.  She grinned and reached for another.

2. The liquid was refreshing as it rushed down his throat.  He took another mouthful and let the cold sweetness linger before he swallowed.  With a sigh of contentment he carefully set down his glass on a coaster.

3. As the steam rose, she inhaled and enjoyed the scent of the soup in front of her.  She dipped her spoon into the bowl and let the savory warmth pour across her tastebuds.  Reaching for a piece of bread, she held it into the soup and let it soak.

4. He grinned as he licked the sweet, creamy icing off of his fingers.  With one finger still coated, he dabbed the bottom of the cupcake paper to collect the last few crumbs.  One cupcake gone, he paused and then reached for a second.

Ready for your questions?  They are basically the same.

What kind of berry did she eat?  What is he drinking?  What type of soup is in the bowl?  What flavor was the cupcake, and what color was the icing?

We’ll see if everyone (or anyone!) has the same answer as what I was imagining when I wrote them.  🙂

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. deshipley
    Jan 28, 2013 @ 20:49:03

    1. A big blueberry, freshly rinsed.
    2. At first I thought soda, then I thought juice… then carbonated juice. In the end, though, I’m convinced it’s iced tea.
    3. French onion soup, yum-yum-yum.
    4. A carrot cupcake with white cream-cheese icing.
    Heh, I wonder how irritated a reader would be what they’d envision as onion soup turned out to be tomato all along? X) And yes, I am hungry now, thank you ever so much.

    Reply

  2. Stvsgrls
    Jan 29, 2013 @ 10:09:57

    1. Blueberry (plump, glistening)
    2. Soda(cold,sweet)
    3. Tomato (savory, bread to soak)
    4. Red Velvet, White (He)

    Reply

  3. Hollie
    Jan 29, 2013 @ 22:27:38

    1. grapes
    2. Sweet ice tea
    3. Vegetable
    4. Yellow with chocolate icing

    Reply

  4. Nicole W.
    Jan 31, 2013 @ 06:46:46

    1. Strawberry
    2. Lemonade
    3. Chicken noodle
    4. Chocolate with whipped white frosting

    Reply

  5. Trackback: Description Game Follow-Up: A Confession « Butterflies and Dragons

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