Useful Tips

K How to describe the scene in a book


In most of the incoming manuscripts, the authors do not bother to create a world that is comfortable for the reader. Moreover, often your heroes live and act in empty space. Imagine an action that takes place on a bare stage. So, in the form of a bare scene, an empty white ball, the editor sees the world of your work if it does not contain a description of the scene.

Let's remember what it is.

“Once a week he was allowed to spend the night ... here, in the grandfather’s tower, he ran up the dark spiral staircase to the very top and went to bed in this abode of a wizard, amid thunder and visions, and early on, when even the milkman had not yet jangled bottles on the streets, he woke up and proceeded to treasured magic.

Standing in the darkness by the open window, he took a full chest of air and blew out with all his might.

Street lights went out in an instant, like candles on a black birthday cake. Douglas blew again and again, and the stars began to fade in the sky ...

In the predawn fog, rectangles erupted one after another - lights were lit in the houses. Far, far away, on dawn, a whole string of windows suddenly lit up ....

Conducting with his orchestra, Douglas imperiously extended his hand to the east.

And the sun rose.

Douglas crossed his arms over his chest and smiled like a real wizard. “That's it,” he thought. “Only I ordered - and everyone jumped, everyone ran. Summer will be great!”

And he finally looked around the city and snapped his fingers.

The doors of the houses swung open, people went outside.

The summer of nineteen twenty-eighth has begun. ”

Ray Bradbury. Wine made from dandelions.

Is there a world? There is. See the city? We see. (Pay attention, we not only see, but also hear: the mention of the milkman and tinkling bottles, a click of the fingers.) What else does the author achieve with this description, is it necessary to tell? An amazing, exciting acquaintance with a very pretty boy. Creating a general mood. The reader, of course, does not ask: “How does the author do this?” - he simply wants to stay with Douglas by the end of the chapter and spend a great summer with him. As you know, the reader’s desire to stay in the world you created defines almost everything for the book.

Why can't you do it? Let's try to figure it out. Possible reason number one: you yourself do not see the world you are trying to create. Possible reason number two: you are too lazy to turn on the brain: (yes, it’s much easier to write: “Douglas felt like an omnipotent wizard, to whom both men and celestial bodies obey.”). There are three reasons: you read somewhere that the scene needs to be described, but you cannot answer your question why. The possible reason is number X (it’s also the main one) - you don’t know how to do this and don’t understand how you can use the description of the scene in your interests.

Examples from incoming manuscripts:

“It's good to live in Old Bor. The place is quiet, cozy and uninhabited. ”

Yes, that’s all. Look at this as a reader. Stary Bor is the main scene of the work. Did the author create a world for you? Are you immersed in it? Is there any feeling ?! (Do you want to spend the summer in it.) Then the author moves us to the castle, to the dining room, to the princess’s room ... and - nothing! Not a single adjective, what kind of descriptions are there with the goal of revealing the character of the hero, the habits of family life, further fate or creating a mood! It still seems to me a big mistake to use words in children's literature as conditional symbols: “castle”, “dining room”. (By the way, where does the dining room come from in the castle? The dining room, the main hall, the banquet hall, the gloomy hall with columns or, conversely, the bright hall with azure-painted vaults. This is the castle! You write - shhhhhhhh! Your vocabulary doesn’t have the right word - read something like “How the castles are arranged.”) “Princess”, “your room”, it turns out “an ordinary castle with the most ordinary dining room, and the princess’s room is like the rooms of all the princesses in the world, well , you know "... is not a fascinating and not an artistic world. This technique - the absence of any descriptions - should be used only in exceptional cases: when you want to say just that.)

“In the middle of the Shining Sea there is an amazing island that resembles a cake baked by a giant confectioner. There live magical neonics. They like to build funny houses in the form of books, pots, vases and other items. There is even a refrigerator-shaped skyscraper on Tort Island. ”

Already better. What are the mistakes. First of all, in the author’s estimates. “Amazing island” - it’s understandable, the author considers it amazing, but it’s not enough to tell the child that it is something “amazing” (mother also always says that the medicine is not bitter ...), this must be proved to him. In fact, the word "amazing" does not fit here at all, but we are not talking about that. Do not decide for the reader, do not impose your opinion on him, do not use hint words that reveal your helplessness - just describe the world so that the reader himself exclaims: “Oh, how amazing!” The same thing with “funny houses” and “magic little men. " Plus (or rather, another minus of this text) is the inclusion in the fairy tale story of everyday, low-lying objects: pots and vases. The phrase “and other objects” is the author’s apparent helplessness. “A skyscraper in the shape of a refrigerator” is completely failed, because the shape of the refrigerator and the skyscraper is the same, in both cases it is a parallelepiped with rectangular faces, so this argument not only nullifies the statement about fun, but is completely devoid of any sense.

Here is another one from the immense archives of incoming manuscripts.

“And while she was busy with the housework, Slavik examined the grandmother's possessions. Plot of land on which

the house and other buildings are located, located in the middle of the village, sixty meters from the river. The house itself is a two-story, solidly-log, with one room on the first floor (the attic is on the second floor) was built by my grandmother’s father thirty years ago.
In the middle of the room there is a stove on which grandmother prepares food, and this stove also heats the house in cold weather. ... Light enters the room through two windows facing west, so in the afternoon the sun illuminates the whole room. In the attic there is also a window, but very small. Many old things are stored there. ”

An ideal passage to show that is bad. Slavik (obviously, such a small boy) examines his grandmother's possessions - there is nothing criminal in the first sentence. But from the second, details fall upon us in the style of the real estate site. Who is this boy's dad? Realtor? Plus, an error in shifting plans: Slavik could inspect the site, he could measure the distance to the river with a ruler (although unlikely), he could evaluate what the house was made of, but: “it was built by the grandmother’s father thirty years ago” - he couldn’t see it, unless a sign hangs on the house. What could the author do: emphasize the unique details of everyday life (if you want to show the unusualness of a village house for a city dweller), show Slavik's attitude to what is happening - surprised, delighted, joyful, upset? (So ​​far, poor Slavik, thanks to the author, looks pedantic and calculating little man, which at his age speaks, rather, of some psychological disorder). In the end, it was possible to introduce Slavik to the grandfather of his grandmother - through some inscription or little thing, which would later play an important role.

The second paragraph is full of surprisingly boring platitudes: the stove on which the grandmother cooks and which heats the house. The stove on which grandmother travels to the city on weekends is, yes, interesting. A stove that simply performs its usual functions is not.

Throw, throw away, everything that is trite, boring, sad, all your adult memories on behalf of six-year-old children - please, off! No one but you gives birth to warm memories. There will be no response in the reading soul. Communication with the reader is achieved differently! Reliability of the world is also created differently.

(I won’t even talk about the enormous amount of stylistic mistakes, about the “soundly-timbered”, about the “existing” and “other buildings” (second passage in a row!) - just pity me.)

Most of all, it amazes me that in the worlds of modern fairy-tale manuscripts, there is nothing other than heroes and objects. I want to remind you: at your disposal is not a theater stage, but a literary text, which means you can arrange such 4D that movie theaters will envy you! Please, describing the world, remember at least from time to time that in addition to relief and objects, there are also sounds in it. And - smells. And wind. And also - rain, heat or cold. Unlike a theater director, you can change plans, moving from general to particular, as well as “shooting points”: here is a top view, here is a view through the eyes of a hero, here is a view through the eyes of a dog ... And you are not limited by any budget for the scenery!

To what extent should the world be prescribed? It seems to me that the detail should correspond to the task and the specific text. It would be nice to ask yourself why the text needs this description? What is my author’s problem? Detailing should simply be sufficient.

Here is an example of obviously redundant detailing:

“In the muddy stream of Karpovka, bottles, beer cans, plastic cups swing. Along the edge of the water, leaving deep imprints on the silty shore, an old crow wanders. Her huge jagged tail indicates cruel and not always successful brawls, and a pair of whitish feathers on her head gives her a venerable gray hair, as a sign of worthy lived centuries.

Passing white streaks in water, a box of milk drifts. A crow catches it with its beak and drags it ashore. Busily going around the paper box and tyuking in colored stains, she looks inside and, pressing the box with her paw, pulls out a sticky condom. Having tested pink latex for strength, the crow rotates its head, gleaming with clever eyes, trying to figure out the reason for the coexistence of two objects that are opposite in meaning: a dairy product that nourishes life, and a contraceptive designed to prevent its occurrence.

"A dull bay, from a fog a white boat on a cable pulls a large black boat."

In this case, the author is trying to give realism to his fictional world by simply copying the details of the world of the present.

Do you know what's good here? ". bay ... "This is the only manuscript of the last fifty in which sound is present. All others are like works of the deaf.

Everything else is monstrous.

This description gives nothing to the novel. For reference, it is called The Curse of Amenhotep. Not a single beer bottle, nor a condom in any way affect the plot in any way and do not overlap in the novel. And this crow does not participate in action. The declared theme and the prolonged, excessively realistic beginning contradict each other. It also seems strange that the very choice of the copied parts is: why did the author drag garbage into his novel from the whole variety of possible options?

(My friend, one of my favorite contemporary writers, laughs that I would have to open a new direction in psychiatry, a sort of “literary couch”: literary self-expression as a way to get rid of psychological overloads in the mind. Strangely enough, quite often, literary creation is it and there is. But it is worth pitying the reader. Not all of your psychological overloads are of interest to him.)

Reality, and especially unsightly reality, in a work of art repels. Some believe that reality in a fictional world is not at all appropriate. Incidentally, I do not insist that this move is categorically unacceptable: it is possible, but only on one condition - if it is justified by the author’s intention.

Take, for example, Doeblin and his novel “Berlin - Alexanderplatz”.

"It was raining. On the left, on Münzstrasse, advertisements sparkled. Cinema - that's what! ... "Children under the age of seventeen are not admitted." On a huge poster - a bright red gentleman is standing on the stairs, and some chic beauty hugs his legs, she lies on the stairs, and he has zero attention. Under the banner there is an inscription: "Without parents. The fate of an orphan in 6 parts." Well, let's go see. The orchestra was flooded with might and main. The ticket is sixty pfennigs. ”

This is Berlin through the eyes of the protagonist. In the Doeblin novel, drug inserts, signs, weather reports. Tram routes, ticket prices, rules for passengers. The names of the films. City plan. Sketches. Advertising slogans. Resolutions. Documents ... You can look in and make a long list of what details Doeblin puts his model into. Here the author had a goal - to create a model of Berlin for a specific period of time. He got it. (Please note that from this description we also recognize the hero better, and sound also works in this world.)

By the way, this novel can be used as a catalog when creating a fabulously authentic world. By introducing a variety of pointers, quotes from fictional newspapers, timetables for magical trains, original signs, menus, various lists of gizmos, maps, dictionaries of fictional languages, etc., you make your world a real place for the reader. Not to mention the fact that any of these elements can serve as a plot-forming service.

  1. I repeat once again: a description of the world or place of action, the degree of its detail and the method of presentation should be in close interaction with the work, be subordinate to the purpose of the text and solve copyright problems.
  1. If the scene is ordinary, a few bright details are enough. But if you take the reader to an unusual world, please, kindly, bother to intrigue to lay out the details.
  2. Copying reality is the worst way to create a world of artwork if you are not Alfred Doeblin.
  3. If your description or detail in the description does not give anything to your work - it can and should be thrown away.
  4. Description of the scene is a great way to replace the author’s reasoning, create a mood, introduce the character, express the attitude of the author or hero to what is happening and perform another thousand magical actions.
  5. Turn on the sound in your brain. And the color. Smell and touch.

Please send all comments, suggestions, additions and counterarguments to my email,
Your Anya Amasova

About the description in the book: living sensations

The author’s task in describing the scene is not just to create a visual image of the plot, but to use all the senses of the reader, from sight to smell, dipping him in current events with his head. Together with the hero, he must hear the surrounding sounds, smell, feel the heat of the sun or, on the contrary, start from the icy cold.

Visual images should reflect the psychological state of the character - remember the famous Oak from the novel "War and Peace." In a good book, natural phenomena, structures, objects, lighting, colors and smells not only characterize the surrounding area, but also emphasize the character’s mental state.

D speaking details

Focus not on the big picture, but on the “talking” details. Depending on the place and situation, the following may be significant:

  • a gust of spring breeze
  • the rustle of leaves underfoot
  • drops of dew on the web
  • smell of sea breeze
  • cloud shape on the horizon
  • glare on the water
  • the sound of dripping water from a tap,
  • feeling of warmth from the fireplace on the skin,
  • distant highway noise
  • Reflections of the lights of a big city in puddles
  • slogans on billboards ...

It can be anything, even a crunch of crème brulee sugar crushed by a teaspoon. The more descriptions of sensuality, the greater the chances of success.

P draw with the word

So that the reader does not miss the descriptions in the book, they should be pictures in 5D format. The phrase “It was very windy and dank” is not an option. If the hero is scared and cold, the reader should feel the chilling wind, tremble and wrap himself in a blanket. To activate his imagination will help language images. The wind should knock down, the crumb of snow - stabbing his face, hopeless darkness - cause despair.

The main thing is to know the measure. Too many details, even the most piercing in perception, can tire. This is especially true for dynamic scenes - in their description, important brightness, brevity and capacity. Details are very important, but they should be few so as not to distract from the main thing.

N walk

If the muse suddenly flutters, relax and take a walk in the fresh air. Leave your smartphone at home, take away coffee and perhaps the real world will give you fresh ideas. Signs are everywhere!

For brainstorming, many people need favorite music. Light the fireplace, turn off Wi-Fi, and put your favorite vinyl on the player. Inspiration will help to return the quiet rustle of a needle on a gramophone record against a background of a beautiful melody.

M Meditation

It's not about religious rituals - we can do without incense and "Omm." Just sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes and release your thoughts in free swimming. Do not strain your brain, and the desired images will come directly from the subconscious.

There is no single recipe for finding inspiration. Do whatever intuition tells you. Give room to your imagination, and everything will work out.