One element of the writing process I always enjoy, is writing descriptions. I love to share the details of the worlds I've created, and...

One element of the writing process I always enjoy, is writing descriptions. I love to share the details of the worlds I've created, and the emotions they give my characters! Descriptions can be difficult to get right though, and the smallest word choice can throw off the image being created in the readers' mind. Though I am far from being an expert on descriptions, here are five of my tips on how to write immersive descriptions!

1) Use More than One Sense

Here, of course, I'm referring to the five senses; sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch. It's common advice to include them in description, so I won't spend too long on this section. What's important to keep in mind, is not to give the reader a checklist. I would suggest in most cases setting the scene with what is seen, then adding one or two of the other senses. If you really would like to include all of them, adding them into later paragraphs is fine!

2) Have Your Characters Interact with Their Surroundings

The best descriptions I've ever read, are where characters are doing more than turning in a circle and describing what they see. They're moving, having a bite of food, exploring the rough bark of a tree with their fingertips. This technique also allows you to play around with diffusing description beyond the establishing paragraph. Instead, having the characters interact with their surroundings deepens the readers' experiences, and transports them to the setting as if they're really there. For example:

Ilisa collapsed to her knees. Gravel bit through her thin prison shift, digging into her skin. A stone altar rose up before her, ashes scattered on its top; the last traces of forgotten infernos. She reached up a shaking hand, and brushed the altar's edge. Cold bled through her. It twisted up her arm, then shot down her spine, dragging ice nails through muscle and bone.

She withdrew her hand. No, this was not the altar of her God.

3) Strong Verbs are Your Best Friend

I love verbs. Whenever I hear or read one, I have a very distinct image, sound, or taste which pulses through my mind. If you say "slithered", I have an image of a green snake winding through darkness. Or if you say "bubbled" the sound/image of laughter over water appears. Verbs can portray the emotion you want your setting to emote. 

Strong verbs don't have to emit 'strong' emotions such as fury or joy. "Strong" refers to any verb which brings an emotion to the setting. Using strong verbs, which are already attached to previous emotions, images, and sounds in the readers' minds, can link readers to the sensation of the setting, without you telling them how to feel. 

On a basic level, for example, Raindrops sprinkled the earth, does not produce the same feeling or sensation as, Raindrops knifed the earth.

Here's a paragraph using strong verbs:
A small city crammed into the eastern slice of the palace grounds. Butchers carved into thick hides of deer, letting red cut rivers through the dirt path. From the stables, horses whinnied and pawed the ground. Rings of iron striking iron crafted a sharp heartbeat to the working sphere of palace life, and servants streamed through, the blood in its veins.

4) Give the Setting Personality

Every time I walk into a house or building, a certain sensation comes over me. This sensation, the emotions I feel, are directly linked to the place's personality. A setting's personality can emerge from who lives there, the state it's in, and what purpose it serves. A bustling office building will have a different feeling to a coastal mansion, for example. If settings are given personality, another layer of depth is added to the description and the reader is taken straight to the heart of the setting.

Here's (my attempt at) a setting with personality:
The market had its own song. Footsteps formed the pounding drumbeat, the bartering the string instruments, the chattering clink of metals the harmony. Midday sent most shoppers scurrying from booth to shaded booth. The sun whipped their backs, glaring off simple white kilts.

5) Add a Little Detail

Too much detail can be overwhelming, but adding a small one in can ground a reader in the scene, and make them feel as if they are there. Listing off the wall, floor, ceiling, and furniture colours and positions are helpful for orienting the reader, but they won't be as memorable as the crack splintering the mirror, or the red splotch in the rug. 

For example: Burning lights in the sky, as numerous as Yahlim promised to make the Xuli, swayed in and out from behind clouds. Red sands rose and fell like waves about them. A fire chuckled across wood. Smoke brushed her face, and caught in her eyelashes like flecks of silver.

It's also helpful to use the POV's personality in description. Some characters might not be observant, in which case details might escape them, but what they notice first, will be completely different than what anyone else would see entering a new place. What details draw the characters' eye first? The quality of fabric, the weapons of the guards by the door, the inspiring artwork on the wall? Details the POV notices will tell the reader much about the character and the setting, and draw them deeper into the world.

What tips and tricks do you have for writing descriptions? Do you use any on my list? Do you love or hate to write descriptions?
Have a wonderful day, and best wishes with your writing! <3

I'm so excited to be joining in with this wonderful link up once more! Not only that, but today I'll be answering the great question...

I'm so excited to be joining in with this wonderful link up once more! Not only that, but today I'll be answering the great questions Liv K Fisher designed, about Kebron, from a new story of mine! He's one of the main POVs for The Tears We Bleed, a novel I hope to soon first draft. 

Here's a blurb about the story, before we jump into the questions:

Kebron Vanjariah is the half-loved son of a human tear mine owner. In between selling bottled tears to golden clientele, and mastering his tattooing skills, he hopes to one day live up to his dead brother’s plans for the family business. When he’s sent to inspect the tear mines, Kebron is confronted with the sickly truth of how the tears are collected. Caught between love for his family, and a growing revulsion at source of the family fortune, Kebron must choose to turn a blind eye, or risk driving everyone he loves into ruin.

Ilisa Samshon is the sworn protector of her clan’s chief, turned slave. In the depths of the tear mines, her one source of magic, her hair, has been shaved off, leaving her powerless to save herself, her chief, or his intended. When the tear mines are attacked by a mysterious rebel group, Ilisa grabs the chance to help them all escape. But when her chief and his intended are ripped away by guards, Ilisa barely manages to fight her way out. Vowing to free the man she loves no matter the price, she joins the rebel group, determined to break his chains, before they break him.

Where does your character live, and how does that impact them?

Kebron lives in his family's estate on the northwestern side of Sea of Aranah, in the city of Valas. The estate is, simply put, enormous and wealth exudes from every stone and piece of furniture. Being surrounded by this wealth has made Kebron somewhat judgmental of others' homes, if they don't compare. Growing up in the estate that his family has passed down for generations has always made him appreciate his family, and want to work to keep it run well. 

There are two shrines in the house's entrance that make him feel uncomfortable, however, these being his father's shrine to Gemosh, God of Pleasure, and his mother's shrine to the Goddess of Hard Work, Rathna. His parents have deliberately set them up opposite each other, which makes the tension in the air stiff. Walking past them also gives him chills he doesn't like, so he always chooses to come and go through a side or back door to avoid them.

If they could book a vacation to anywhere in the/their world, where would they go and why?

He'd enjoy sailing to Narellia, to the south, where if you have enough coin, you can rent a house along the lush river and never have to feel the country's heat. Some of the greatest tattooists come from Narellia, and he would pay anything to apprentice under them.

On a scale from 1 (low) to 10 (high), how ambitious are they?

Most likely a five. Until his brother's death, he was happy to be in his ambitious brother's shadow, and do what he liked when he liked. But now he's set to inherit the family business, he has to step up. Or at least pretend to be ambitious.

What do they want to achieve long-term?

Prove to his mother that he can run the business and make it successful, like his elder brother did. He'd also like to improve his tattooing skills and become a master if he can.

Who inspires them?

His elder brother Tzadok did, with the intensity and effort he poured into his work. His little sister Acacia also inspires him, in that she can be bright and see the light in anything, no matter how many shadows are around her or others.

How would they handle seclusion?

Not well at all. Kebron enjoys people. He likes talking, and both hearing and telling stories. My guess is that he would go mad.

Are they a cat person, or a dog person?

A dog person. His father has several hunting dogs, and he sometimes goes out of his way to give them a scratch behind the ears and a couple of pats.

What's their favorite type of weather?

Hot and sticky. Mainly because then people will wear less clothing ((that sounds very creepy when I say it like that)) but not so he can look at their bodies, but rather any tattoos exposed. All people in Valas have at least three tattoos, and he likes looking at others' to get inspiration.

When they're hungry, does it show? How?

Oh yeah. He will moan, complain, and whine to anyone within ear shot of how hungry he is, until food is given to him or he locates some.

What's one Bible verse your character would identify with?

Well, Kebron doesn't live in a culture which accepts Elohim, (the world's name for God), so he doesn't have an understanding of Biblical concepts or the idea of one God other than the northern tribes worship only one. A verse that might cause him to think, in a good way, might be: 

"Proverbs 23:4-5 Do not wear yourself out to get rich;  do not trust your own cleverness.Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle."

Will you be participating in the Language of Worlds Link-up? Tell me about your character! Where would they go on vacation? What do they want to achieve long-term?
Have a wonderful day, and best wishes with your writing! <3

To be a writer Is to cup worlds in your hands, Breathe life onto silken green plains, form mountains with your fingertips, As your mind c...

To be a writer
Is to cup worlds in your hands,
Breathe life onto silken green plains, form mountains with your fingertips,
As your mind crafts cities out of dust and imagination.
It is to plant valleys and peaks, to sow civilization into paper and ink maps
That gain colour in the current of your thoughts.

To be a writer
Is to look at the world through a different lens,
To stand before a tree, and see not what it might make, but how it became.
To see the beauty in the jotted lines of leaves' spiderweb veins,
To imagine who has stood before it, neck craned,
Face bare to the sky and to life.

To be a writer
Is to transform thoughts into symbols.
Symbols, into understanding. And understanding, into images.
It is to arrange and rearrange twenty-six letters to sing a soundless tune.
It is tapping keys, scratching pens, and spilled ink,
Trying to make black and white sing.

To be a writer
Is to bare the self.
Expose raw rivers of emotions, and pains which grieve or delight the soul,
So as to brush the reader in your colours.
It is to bury the self simultaneously into another and write adventures
That your soul longs to join.

To be a writer
Is to pace the room, back and forth,
Wondering over the mistakes you've made, chest heaving with tears.
It is to wrestle self-doubt, battle a thousand fears,
And wish the battefield of your mind would fade away,
Before you do.

To be a writer
Is to want to give up, again and again,
Until you want to scream and bury the passion under mounds of frustration.
It is to fall in and out of love with a story, bending in opinion
Like a tree twisted under the winds of time,
But still writing anyway.

To be a writer
Is to love writing, even when it's hard.
To forge on against the odds, to learn every second, to pour out the soul.
Writing is not for the faint of heart, but rather for the brave who,
Against failure and setbacks, always, always
Return to the page.

This post marked my 150th post, so I wanted to do something a little different! Thank you to all of you for supporting me throughout the life of Quill Pen Writer; you're amazing, and I wouldn't be here without you!

What does being a writer mean to you? What lessons about your writing, or you as a person through your writing, have you learned recently?
Thanks again, and best wishes with your writing! <3 

Recently with my writing, I've been especially interested in exploring family dynamics, and fictional families in general! There are so ...

Recently with my writing, I've been especially interested in exploring family dynamics, and fictional families in general! There are so many possibilities to explore regarding size, age, history, ethnicity, and so on!

But with all the choices, can also come confusion and indecision of which direction to go. So today I've compiled a list of questions to ask yourself when brainstorming a fictional family! It's my hope that by asking these, inspiration and ideas aplenty will spark!

1) What kind of family are they? Nuclear (two parents and children), single-parent, childless, extended, adoptive/foster, sibling-only, blended, or something else? 

2) Who's in charge at home? Is there one clear leader, or does the household operate more on a democratic level? If making a big decision, eg. if they move, who would be able to veto a decision?

3) Who brings in the family income? How does this alter their position in the family, and any power they could hold over other members? Who then takes care of the household duties?

4) Where do they live? What is their house/apartment/etc. like? Are there great distances between rooms, or are people always on top of each other? Is their family considered unusual or normal, in the area they're living in?

5) If a stranger walked into their home, what would be the first thing they heard; silence, banter, laughter, or something else? What smells would fill the air? Would they be welcomed, or immediately kicked back onto the street?

6) How is conflict dealt with within the family? Is it talked over calmly, screamed about, or ignored? Are there punishments for children disobeying their parents, such as going to the 'naughty corner', etc.?

7) What family members get along? How is this influenced by personality, age, and life experiences? What do they enjoy doing together?

8) What family members don't get along? Why not? What do they disagree on, and how is this expressed? Do they avoid each other and say little, or are they constantly breaking out into arguments?

9) What kind of food does the family eat? Who cooks? Are there family recipes that have been passed down, and are eaten regularly, or do they prefer to eat out, or have microwave meals? Do they eat foods that are accepted by their surrounding culture, or foods that might be considered strange?

10) How are politics dealt with in the family? Does each member have the freedom to strongly express their viewpoint, or is there only one political opinion that is accepted? What happens when members disagree about key political issues?

11) What past-times do family members engage in? Are their leisure pursuits all wildly different, or do they all enjoy one hobby, such as hiking, reading, etc.? 

12) If there are children, how are they raised? Do the parents have control over every aspect of their lives, or do they let them roam free? What do they prioritize; fun or learning?

13) What system of education is preferred? Are all the children home-schooled, or sent to public/private schools? What beliefs or past experiences have shaped their decision?

14) What faith/religion is held by all, or most of the family members? What religious ceremonies or activities do they engage with as a family? Do they go to a place of gathering for this faith as a family, or alone? Are there any members who don't follow this faith? Does that stir up conflict (if so, then what kind?), or is it readily accepted?

15) What core values do they have? Eg. love, serving a god of their faith, happiness, diversity, money, success, etc. Is there a consensus on the meaning and purpose of life? Where did these values and beliefs come from?

16) Who holds the family secrets, and what are they? Who in the family is aware of them; are they proud of them, or do they desperately try and conceal them?

17) How close are they with extended family members? How often do they visit them, or meet up? Do they always host family reunions, or do they come up with excuses of why not to go?

18) Are they proud of their heritage? What celebrations or festivals do they engage in to celebrate this? Or are they ashamed of it? Why?

19) What struggles have the family gone through together? Has this caused them to break apart, or grow closer? Can any broken relationships be restored?

20) What daily family traditions do they engage in? What weekly/monthly traditions? What time of the day are they performed at?

More in the Questions to Ask When... series!

Cities      History      Celebrations      Magic
Characters (Backstory, and Interview)
Schools      Monarchies      Religion (Part 1 and Part 2)     

Tell me about your character's fictional family! What are they like? What do they value, and where do they live? How do they deal with conflict?
Have a wonderful day, and best wishes with your writing! <3