How to write descriptively - Nalo Hopkinson

View full lesson: The point of fiction is to cast a spell, a momentary illusion that you are living in the world of the story. But as a writer, how do you suck your readers into your stories in this way? Nalo Hopkinson shares some tips for how to use language to make your fiction really come alive. Lesson by Nalo Hopkinson, animation by Enjoyanimation.

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Trying to become a better writer on Wattpad
Trying to write better fanfiction be like.
This is the sort of 'writing' that Hemingway and Bukowski railed against. Get to the point and create interesting characters. Stop with the flowery nonsense.
I completely agree that you should always try to engage the senses and use language that awakens the same senses in the reader, but you can overdo it easily. The book needs to flow a certain way. They can't spend a full page reading one description. So make it colorful, but make it wise. A book should read like music, in which there is a certain flow, and the reader is rising, cresting, and falling along with it. listen to the song "Dogs of war" the classical version by Christopher Lennertz. Listen with headphones, and be taken on a ride. That's how I imagine all stories should be.
This video is really creatively informative. Very much useful.
So how do you be descriptive in first person? Especially since the MC is a loner because something tragic happened in their past.
So this is what Bill was like before meeting the Doctor xD
Basically, if you're an Intuitive you'll have a hard time writing like this, and if you're a Sensor it won't be all that hard at all.
Yah see, to me now that first description of "billie" had me rolling my eyes and internally cringing. I mean, being descriptive is good, but that just seemed like overkill, like they're trying way too hard to sound smart or something. just one readers opinion.
Truly enjoyed the information. Thank you!
This was helpful, I'm trying to write a story. In the future I want to be a writer
Well done!I loved this dialog on one aspect of writing, when your story needs to share a scene with description.I really love the suggestions.The animation was AWESOME!Nalo shows the adorable side of teaching.~Smile!
I'd say the first sentence was borderline comical.I thought that was going to be an example of a bad use of adjectives at first.
Who wrote a story after watching this?
I watch this a dozen times
Thanks for this. This is also a good one example for my descriptive essay😍
Incredibly helpful it cackled my ears and filled me with a rush of excitement and enthusiasm to write Thank you TED Ed
I'm in 7th grade and i'm starting to learn to write better, i'm trying to be a better writer and thishelped with my writing!
I have an English assessment tomorrow
Was that Rue and Katniss in the beginning?
This vid was kind disturbing for me. (i don't know why)
I avoid cliché
1:18: "The point of FICTION is to cast a spell."
I loved it
Condoning purple prose. Hah.
I really don't want to try too hard to be descriptive
I am trying to write a fiction novel. I have written 55 poems till now. well I am too small in my age. I am just 12 years old.great help. thank you very much.
This animation was great
Am I the only one who feels motivated to write a story on wattpad but then later on deletes it?
I don't l w/o what I should wrote it on Either part or computer or phone or idk
Read my story onwattpad and let me know what you think! Name is Newlium
Sick hahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahaahhaahahahaahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahaahahh 250 likes
Thank you so much for this video, it will surely help ^_^
Billies legs are noodles? Ha Haaaaaaaaaaaaa. Fuck off with that shit.
Hey, everyone! I'm trying to name my character. Who ever comes up with the best name gets a shout out on wattpad!
This video was exacly what i were looking for. Thank you :)
God this is so hard because my vocabulary isn't as expansive as I thought it would be. I will keep learning and muster alot of it to make something good. Thanks for the lesson.
I should know all this stuff, I've played many games that hooked me in really good
Step 1: Don't write fanfic ever ... just don't
Two pieces of advice from fellow authors: If you don't risk being garish ", you risk being bland." And another one: "I believe writers block is simply the fear of writing badly."
Is that The Boss's voice?
List your Wattapd down below and I'll follow you and read your books( if you have any). But you have to do the same to me. My Wattpad is tgmark
If only i knew this before my test 🤦🏻‍♀️
0:21 A goddamn minecraft villager sound spotted.
This is a good video💕
This needs to be called 'how to over describe and overwrite.' The examples upheld as 'better' are actually not only melodramatic, but filled with cliches and lack any music. Simple, declarative sentences can leave far more resonance than some mental mess of words. Or shall I say, blizzard of BS. It all depends on context. Over-description is just another way of dumbing down the prose.
1:20 Read 'Inkheart' to learn more about this.
Stop scrolling through the comments and focus!!!
What the hell is a bag of bleach.
My biggest dream in the world is to be the next Stephen King I will do anything to be the next him
I make lots and lots of fantasy world's and stories in my head but I don't know what to write or how to write it
Some of this seems like purple prose.
This video relaxes me lol
Watching those spinning teacups was enough to turn my stomach from a glassy, reflective pond to a sea of violent waves and acrid spray.
Any Wattpaders
*Sees Inkheart* *Silent celebration*
When you're not native English and google is your best friend.
It's " to find out who did it" not "to find out who done it"
I love this!!
Everyone, wish me luck! Last week, I was shortlisted to the Top 10 out of thousands in a writing competition! The finals are next week. How do you think I'll do?
Thank you!
I read a book, where the entire book relies on cliches to make it engaging
One of the main points of writing is to allow the reader to be able to visualize their own ideas. If you make your writing to descriptive it can take away from how they visualize and enjoy the story.
I think this all depends on the reader and the writer in the sense of style. Some prefer poetic and interpretive language. Others read and engage better with straightforward, "less is more type" of words and sentences. Not everyone has to use words that hint to what is actually happening, and not everyone has to read it like that. There's an array of styles to choose from. Many enjoy the exact opposite, and that's perfectly fine. There is no one way to write descriptively and deliver your story to the reader.
Blown away! Really enjoyed this and hopes that she does more! #SHUWPF
This video was really useful!
I get what this video is trying to convey, but the problem is that you can't always use metaphors and long descriptions in every. Sure, it can work, but having paragraphs of nothing but descriptions can be a bit of a headache for the readers.
I love this video, for it steals my captivation, like as a book, and leaves me aspiring to write wonderful, numerous tomes.
Descriptive writing is pretty tricky..
Unless I am really slow, I don't understand how I can I write my character's actions, feelings, emotions to seemnot flat
Thanks you! This is going to really help with my writing exam! Im sorry im a nerd.
This video has a good concept at the heart of it, but some of the examples aren't too stellar. Kelly Link's use of metaphor gave us an incoherent collage that failed to communicate her point. It felt like pretty language for its own sake instead of pretty language that also advances the story. That said, just blandly stating that Billie is nauseated and weak doesn't bring us into the story. It leaves us in the world of abstractions and raw information that doesn't allow us to process a story intuitively, as it should. The second example I liked a lot. Its use of verbs creates a moving image that, for me, creates a kind of propulsion. It asks me to read more without having to be too direct about it. I also like the last example, but I found the narrator's explanation of it to be lacking. I don't think "stewed-cherry" was meant to make us ponder what the dress looked like. It's a very specific color the author is trying to invoke, and so it doesn't seem to be begging for extensive interpretations. Rather, the writing is very economical. It gives us one very specific detail to ground us in the scene and focus our attention on the most important part of it--Anette. The problem is that stewed cherry isn't a commonimage, so a lot of us will draw a blank upon seeing it. Description needs to be tactile, succinct, and coherent, but it also needs to help key us into the emotional tone of a scene and build character. At least, in my opinion, that's what brilliant description should do. I think good description should tick at least the first three boxes, but strive for all five.
Yes, but what happens if the reader doesn't understand the description or me as a writer having trouble to understand the description
I write my own stories for me and I enjoy reading them I don't write for other people sometimes I give out my stories to friends and family I like to write science fiction.
It's funny how this is a "page" in a "chapter" of a series of talks, and yet, people are judging the presentation outside of that context.. There's a reason why we are to "subscribe" to this offering of comfortable TED-dy reaffirmations of understanding. Snippets of education and relevancy wound in delightful packages are enough snack to promote a hunger for those awaiting a courses of the grand meal of profound study or to stir the memory of those preparing feasts of fantasy beyond the halls of academia. Please... please, leave room at the table for all... without insulting the chef.
I used to be really good at writing, then I lost that ability 2 years ago.
Richard Parker
I found several examples here overwrought, awkward and distracting. A short, direct sentence is often more powerful than several lines of forced metaphors and similes."Billie feels sick" and "cherry red dress" would have done the job. As George Orwell said, if you can cut a word out, cut it out.
00:18 Curiously Enough, The only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was "Oh no, not again." Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that, we would know a lot more about the nature of the Universe than we do now.
A great thing to remember is to *show not tell*. This means, show your reader that someone is (for example) goofy. Which is better? Tell: It was an unusual cat Show: Its sharp, emerald green eyes pierced through heart. It's hiss sent a shiver down my spine as claws dug out of the beasts paws. This was no ordinary cat..Ya know what I mean?
How is billy a girl?
I personally like the straight forward way of writing. The usual way just seems watered down to me. Like just get to the point.
I wanted to make a book call the legend of clan war
At first when I heard the word violet I thought of the colour Now I thought of her The tealight candles on her bedside drawer The sock monkey collection on her bed The way my name rolled off her tounge and didn't sound like my name anymore She could effortlessly make anything beautiful Because she was beautiful But after that thought another thought made me shiver One I didn't want to remember ........But didn't want to forget Does this sound like an alright opening to a book?
What about: "Birds passed below the clouds like the foam on white windy waves. Soaring like specks of dust in a hurrican, dazzling the crowds below with their rolling dance." how is that?
I don't quite agree with this form of writing, I always felt it to be too out of its way in its descriptions; I actually find myself more immersed in stories in which contain a more "static" form of descriptions and tend to find myself cringing at these apparent "try hard" descriptions. I'll end up thinking "noodles... bags of bleach? wtf? You could have just said billy felt weak and nauseated." I'd say it has its place in poetry however.
0:41the noodles make sense but the other three are someone trying WAY too hard to find colorful language. hair = poison needles? how does this confer anything other than a horribly cast spell or she is suddenly a candidate for the next X-men -- nausea does not affect your hair unless you PUKE in it. tongue is a bristly sponge - she has cotton mouth? how does that go with the noodle legs? eyes are bags of bleach - this is a spectrum between her eyes are burning so bad they feel like they are melting or they are LITERALLY melting out of her face. how does that go with the noodle legs? Nothing about her stomach or throat or head or anything that is actually affected by nausea.
That's cool, I smoke weed
Just stumbled upon this on last day of term. Will share it with my returning IGCSE Y 11s in August. Such a lovely, informative and visually entertaining lesson.
I felt like this person had no idea what they were talking about. She picked up a thesaurus and attempted to replace every other word with a synonym.
She kinda sound like Margot Robbie
Actually the first description about the legs feeling like noodles etc made me roll my eyes SOOOOO hard. I hate writing like that.
I know how to write stories but I just can't think of the right words to describe something like that's my only problem: choosing the right words
Speaking of clichés, does anyone know an expression that means going downhill (in a bad way)? Because I'm writing about an extremely awkward character trying to comfort an upset girl, and I wanted to explain how the situation began badly and only got worse from there. Here's an outtake from the text: When Walter was left with Annie, a girl his sister was supposed to be babysitting, things began to go downhill. Annie was fifteen but her parents didn't trust her alone. Walter was supposed to 'take care of her'. "Make it seem like you're just hanging out", His sister had said. He'd felt embarrassed taking care of someone only a little younger than him, but he took the job. When the girl's mother told him she was upset over a breakup, the situation was getting embarrassing. If anyone knows, it'd be really helpful. Also any expressions like in the video, like 'his legs turned to noodles' but for an awkward situation.
This is really helpful, Ted-Ed is the best.
The heart of the story are the characters and their storylines... So make sure their storyline is well developed and that they have more than one side...They shouldnt be perfect cause perfect is boring you want something readers can relate to...Soething that makes them laugh, cry, fell anger, disappointment, happines..And always rememberthat if you dont like the chapter, delete it and rewrite it until ur haply with it

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How to write descriptively - Nalo Hopkinson