Describe an Imaginary Place

Discussion in 'Workshop' started by Teresa Edgerton, Oct 24, 2007.

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    Teresa Edgerton

    Teresa Edgerton Goblin Princess Staff Member

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    (I looked and didn't find thread on this topic in the Workshop, so my apologies if I've missed something.)

    There's been some discussion here and there, recently, about description, details, adjectives, etc. Some would say cut out all the non-essentials, others would say if we are going to explore imaginary worlds let us at least describe some of the scenery.

    For those of us in the latter group, I thought it might be interesting to try an exercise in describing places. It can be a landscape or an interior, preferably no more than a paragraph (but it can be two if they're short).

    Is anyone willing to take up the challenge?

    If so, I'll begin with something from my notes, which I meant to use but kept stumbling over at the time:

    There was a bit of woodland a little beyond and above the beach, not far from the waterline. And perhaps (she thought) during a high tide the trees were half-submerged, for their lower trunks were scoured as white as driftwood. When she bent down and sifted through the fallen leaves, she found sand, and shells, and smooth grey pebbles.
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    Talysia

    Talysia Lady of Autumn

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    This one came to me just a little while ago, whilst doing the Son of Six word story thread.

    Blacks cliffs jutted up into a black sky, dark and heavy with clouds that portended not only rain but many storms - not a welcome sign for an explorer. Even the beach was desolate and bleak, with the same black shingle stretching into a steel grey and choppy sea. There was no sound but the wind, howling and screaming, forcing us to think whether we really wanted to discover this new land or not.
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    Teresa Edgerton

    Teresa Edgerton Goblin Princess Staff Member

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    The moon went down the sky; when it touched the sea, it briefly turned the waters to pearl. Thereafter, the darkness was complete, except for the distant fires of the stars. Nor was there any sound, but for the faint lapping of water against the side of the boat. Once or twice he almost fell asleep and forgot to steer, until some movement of the tiller in his hand brought him full awake. At last, dawn stole over the waves like a bright shadow.
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    HardScienceFan

    HardScienceFan 'what to eat' fan

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    the interior of the place looked grim,satanic.
    there was no other word for it.
    The furniture looked like instruments of torture,the colours were those of welts,bruises,bile,blood,rotting flesh.
    an overwhelming smell of putrefaction hung in the air,which took the breath away,and made the eyes water.
    The light was all wrong there.
    It didn't even look like light,but seemed vile,discoloured.obscuring instead of illuminating.
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    Talysia

    Talysia Lady of Autumn

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    The side of the cave had fallen away, and what was revealed within was a wonder. Warm sunlight played across the violet crystalline surface, reflecting brightly as it bounced off each perfect facet. Surely this was the biggest geode in the world! Amethyst crystals as big as chairs thrust up from the floor, and they came out of the cave walls in much the same manner. He thought he could climb up the inside of the very mountain itself, if he wanted to!
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    HardScienceFan

    HardScienceFan 'what to eat' fan

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    the city amazed him.
    It was not so much built as embroidered upon the landscape.
    flexible brown- green towers,like reeds or horsetails,seemed to sway gently.
    Spiderweb bridges,woven overpasses.Insane,delicate arches,with nigh impossible curves
    And between the delicate dreambuildings,gossamer creatures flitted,with eyes like those of children,making tinkling noises as they went about their unfathomable business.
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    Teresa Edgerton

    Teresa Edgerton Goblin Princess Staff Member

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    (I am very impressed by the responses here!)

    From her vantage point on the hill, the marshes spread out below like a patched and faded cloak stitched together with shining waterways. But as she descended, the colors became more vivid: a pool scummed over with acid-green; a cluster of yellow bog-lilies; flashes of the intensest possible shade of blue as a bird flickered between the tall stems of grass. The air grew dense and humid.
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    Talysia

    Talysia Lady of Autumn

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    It was like something out of a dream. White sand stretched on forever, and tropical looking palms trailed their leaves in the sapphire sea. Hidden birds called from somewhere, chirping and trilling as he hadn't just washed up in that paradise. There was even a small cave, probably the evidence that other people had been on the island before him. What he didn't like was the pile of bleached white bones that lay in a little heap not too far away from him.
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    Teresa Edgerton

    Teresa Edgerton Goblin Princess Staff Member

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    A muddy river, slow as clotting blood, wound through the landscape. A few sad grasses grew along the riverbank, and sometimes he passed a group of trees, their roots a tangled mass above the sandy soil. They seemed, improbably, to suck some form of sustenance out of the dull, dead air. Otherwise all was sere and dry. The sky was as empty of birds as the country of beasts, but something lived there, something immense that left deep furrows in the dust, smelling faintly of fish. As if, he thought, a whale might wash ashore and belly across the waste. After two days walking, he came upon a line of spikey bushes, with dry husks of birds impaled on the spines. He saw no tracks of men or beasts coming or going. Had the birds done this to themselves? He could imagine no instinct that might impel them to do so. Yet what place had natural instincts in this unnatural land?
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    Talysia

    Talysia Lady of Autumn

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    I like that one, Teresa. Very nice!:)

    Where the waterfall hit the river at the bottom of the gorge, a fine mist drifted up to cloud the rocks around it. Very few people knew of this place, and that was the way she liked it. Delicate ferns jostled to tickle her legs as she walked by, then the thistles and nettles tried their best to scratch and sting, but the faintest traces of an animal's trail allowed her to pick her way through to get to the perfect spot. There, by the water's edge, she sat on a stony outcrop and looked up at the tree-ringed sky to contemplate the beauty of nature.
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    Tillane

    Tillane Left-minded

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    The building itself wasn’t half as intimidating as she’d been expecting. If anything, it looked a little dowdy and old-fashioned amongst the new housing that surrounded it. The exterior had probably once been white limestone, but a combination of age and pollution had turned it a kind of jaundiced yellow so now the whole building looked vaguely ill. Five broad, weathered stone steps led up to a pair of sturdy but not particularly imposing doors. The reception hall beyond wasn’t exactly ostentatious, either. A plain grey faux-marble floor led up to a reception desk that, while probably impressive at one time, now seemed little more than a scarred and stained exercise in wood and tarnished brass. The desk sergeant manning it looked almost as weathered and worn.
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    mirinda

    mirinda Vernum

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    It was a place of nightmares. Black dust on the ground and in the air. Broken and twisted bodies littered the ground decaying, returning to the earth. The sky was black as nothingness, no stars, no light. The air was putrid with death nothing but death was part of this horror.
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    Jarshen

    Jarshen New Member

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    The street was a single track before it split into numerous off shoots and alleyways. Some of these could support carts and single horses, others the larger ostentatious coaches such as the ambassador's. Yet others promised access but finished in dead ends, these had suspended wooden gates that could be dropped to prevent retreat; the houses around sported platforms and narrow archery slits, dead ends in a literal way. The complex of streets and alleys was not designed for access, but defence. Thead had been sacked even after the Citadel that encompassed the Last Gate had been built, and in a rare demonstration of unity, all five Harmonies had agreed to the reconstruction of the entrance. Around the start of the imposing, but impractical broad avenue that had led to the sacred Temple, the Gracious had woven a myriad of buildings and serpentine streets to create the Martyrs Maze. Here, out of the dark stone from the Hardak Mountains, the various Harmonies had constructed the domestic quarters for their servants and low level initiates, and also the garrisons for any troops. There were barracks for Enforcers and mercenaries and the War harmony had, very particularly, established the small intricate cells for pockets of Glory soldiers.
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    Teresa Edgerton

    Teresa Edgerton Goblin Princess Staff Member

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    (Something I meant for the Six Words/Six Lines thread, but I simply could not get the lines to cooperate and come out at the right length.)

    I dreamed a great and vasty hall,
    its marble floor a black and frozen lake.
    Immense pillars of unknown substance,
    clear as water but solid to the touch,
    held within them shining moving shapes like tiny fishes.
    Tapestries lined the walls, wonderous webs,
    worked in threads of cobalt, cinnabar, blue-black, rose-gold.
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    Culhwch

    Culhwch Not actually a dinosaur. Staff Member

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    My imagination has abandoned me of late. This took a few attempts, and still feels kind of tortured...

    The hills anchored the great mountains to the golden-grassed plains that stretched away forever, it seemed, or at least until they met the sky's edge. They were of good earth, those hills, rich and dark; in spring wildflowers would sing along the gentle slopes, bursting forth amongst stony outcrops and beneath spreading oak trees. In the bright summers we'd watch storms roll in across the plains, the approaching winds whipping the grass in violent waves. The rain would come in a veil, and you'd here it moments before you felt it, cool on your skin. The storm would throw itself and all its fury against those patient, unyeilding peaks, always to no avail; soon it would concede, and allow the sun to return.

    Those hills birthed me; I never in my life found another place so lovely.
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    Teresa Edgerton

    Teresa Edgerton Goblin Princess Staff Member

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    I was hoping you would join us here, Culhwch, because I remembered that you are good at this sort of thing.

    Lightning traces a snake’s path across the sky. The rain-slicked mountain path is treacherous, and I still have far to travel. In the forest to one side I hear pine boughs crack in the wind. On the other side, a sheer precipice falls away for -- no, I can’t even see, for the rain in my eyes. By my laboring lungs, the thinness of the air, it may be thousands of feet. I only know that one misstep and I am done.

    Then there is thunder, like a great shout between the peaks, and I feel the ground beneath my feet crumble.
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    HardScienceFan

    HardScienceFan 'what to eat' fan

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    the place wasn't physical
    It had no location in space nor in time
    it had no dimensions
    it was eternal,or else very shortlived
    all or none of the forces of nature were in force there
    it was composed of both matter and energy
    it was called the EMOTIVERSE
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    Hilarious Joke

    Hilarious Joke Fool

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    In the moments before death, colours are more vivid, sounds are clearer, smells are stronger and everything is beautiful.

    He marvelled at the perfect curve of the baked brown clay from wall to roof. His heart ached as he regarded the thin deep streams that disected the marketplace, crossed over by hundreds of arched red bridges. Moisture sprang to his eyes when the scent of fried goats liver reached him, with undertones of freshly cut cedar for planks on a ship and the rank fumes of the waste collector's wagon. His breath caught at the sound of a baby crying pierced through the low murmers and hawker's shouts that rebounded around and through the crowd to the podium. Distantly, he could hear gulls and the deep clap of the Town Hall bell, signalling his final hour.

    And all of a sudden, despite the days he had spent resigned to his fate and ready for his death, he did not want to leave this city in all its grimy alleys and its sweet filth and its corruption and its harsh and patriotic people.

    How unfair is this, he thought, as he began to struggle against his cuffs, that I only see the city of Holikea in her greatest glory now, when I have so little time to love her.

    The hemp noose fell heavily round his head.
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    Saltheart

    Saltheart Bitter Giant

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    Hell:

    All around, there was blackness – the long, wide vacuum of space stretching infinitively in all directions; dark, desolate, empty; encompassing his numbing senses as he fell through the void, weightless. Not a star was to be seen, not a single source of light. And when he screamed, cried, seeking answers, there was no sound to be heard. He was deaf. Deaf and blind. Or there was no air. Then why was he alive? What was he breathing? Why was he still falling?

    He looked. Below him there was still nothing, still nothing, the same nothingness that surrounded him in all directions. If there was nothing pulling him down, maybe he was floating up. He looked upwards. No, even up there was nothing. He shivered, but when he did so he realized he couldn’t feel his body. It wasn’t just numb, it wasn’t there! He lifted his arm and jammed it into his eye, but felt nothing, nothing passed through him, nothing stung him. He couldn’t see, feel, or hear. He couldn’t taste or smell either. And yet he was – a conscious being, a consciousness trapped in… in… where? Where was he? When was he? What… was he? He tried to remember, but his mind was empty: there were no memories.


    Was he a horse? Maybe… yes, perhaps… but what was a horse? How does one behave like a horse? What does a horse look like? Where did he get such crazy ideas from? He couldn’t remember.


    Maybe he was… a hissing thing… long, wavy, and slender… it hissed through the bushes… and bit the tall, slender figure which recoiled and howled... which turned around and pointed its long and dark tunnel into its face… and then a flash of white… and nothing. Again nothing. It was again surrounded by nothing.
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    chopper

    chopper still alive

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    The great hall was dark but for the two flickering candles in plain iron stands at either end of the bier. The candles created strange and inconstant shapes against the walls past the chipped stone pillars and arches. Shadows against the blacks and greys of night.

    Shay paused just inside the small Galleygate door and held her breath, listening to the fading echoes of the creaking hinges. The Galleygate door was rarely used these days and had certainly not been oiled for some time. It would only take one person to stumble into the hall to spoil everything, and after tonight she would have no chance to try again.

    The floor was bare stone and the flags were uneven in many places, but Shay knew by heart the way to the platform where the bier had replaced the high table. Barefoot, and holding up her long skirts with one hand, she made no sound. The huge stone slabs would once have been warm underfoot, even at this time of the night, but the kitchens below had been neglected and under-used for as long as Shay could remember.


    It could also belong in a "Start your story here" thread.....
    My descriptions can get over-elaborate if I don't pay attention to them, so here's a carefully pruned one; can you imagine this great hall as it is?

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