As a child, I told long, involved, and very complicated stories involving my animals. (I wasn’t much into dolls, but I did have a collection of different stuffed toys.) The teddy bear–Pooh Bear–was always the prince, and who often needed rescuing. Generally it was the horses who would get him out of whatever situation he was in, or sometimes, Ziggy the clown.

As part of that story telling, we describe things, like where a character lives, or what they see.

One of the things that inspires me, is to see a picture, then think about how I would describe that accurately in a story.

One of the tricks you learn at some point is that description doesn’t have to be physically exact.

It must, however, be emotionally exact.

Jeans and a white T-shirt. That’s the uniform. But each character wears those clothes differently. Fred there hasn’t washed that T-shirt since it was signed by his favorite rock star back in the 90s. It’s his most prized possession. He wears it proudly, but would never, ever eat in it, or go someplace where it could get stained. While Fredrica? That shirt was bought by her least favorite aunt in her least favorite color and purposefully too big and she’s itching to get to someplace to ruin it.

Here’s another example.


If money were no object, I’d buy this dress in a heartbeat. I think it’s gorgeous. I love the subtle floral pattern that defines the model’s shape.

But how to describe it?

She wore a winter-white gown, sleeveless, with a delicate design of black branches that curved up from her waist and slipped over her shoulders, and also ran down the sides with full, black flowers.

Which kind of gets it, but it isn’t right. It’s just a T-shirt. No heart.

To me, the more interesting thing about this picture is that while the dress fits the model physically, I don’t think it fits her emotionally. She’s tougher than that dress. They’re in conflict.

The winter-white gown flowed from her sleeveless shoulders to the floor, decorated with a delicate pattern of black flowers and twigs, all at odds with her angular hair and sharp eyes.

Which isn’t right either, but I think you get the point.


In this one, it’s a river of black, gold, and silver metatalics, as sleek as the woman herself. I love the pattern of this one, and I don’t feel the model’s at odds with the dress. However, I could still see a description of the soft flowing gown but the metalics make it like armor of a different kind.

So how would you describe these? Do either of them inspire you? And remember, whatever you create will be 100% different than anything I create.

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