Description n' Unexpected Places

Inspired description through bookstores, restaurants, and underwater worlds

Writing method: On phone

Word count: 958

Video version

Keith's Audio Commentary

Modified Transcript

Today's writing session started a little bit late. I had some errands to run.

I actually went to a bookstore today. I went to two bookstores. The first bookstore was a Japanese bookstore.

Getting ready to go through a pretty big transition. So I'm trying to grab up as many Japanese books as I can.

I was really just looking for an Okinawan dialect dictionary, so to speak. I didn't really find one, but I did find...

I'm in this store. It's just a retail store in a mall. Bookstore. But they have a bunch of retail titles and everything's brand new.

So they have thousands of books. So I was going through these books. I was like, how the hell am I going to pick one out of these?

I almost started to pick at random, but I didn't really want to do that here. So I was like, I'm just going to pick the biggest motherfucker that I can find.

The largest book, I'm going to pick it up. I happened to pick up this book.

Let me get the author. I'm holding it right here. The author is Kyogoku Natsuhiko. Kyogoku Natsuhiko.

Apparently he writes, ironically, supernatural horror in Japanese. How ironic is that?

I picked up this book and I'm holding it now. This thing is a beast. It is probably one of the largest Japanese books I've ever seen.

Usually they don't do this. They don't print a huge dictionary length book. It's very normal in Japanese printing to split books up into sometimes two or three volumes.

But they decided not to do that. This beast is, I'm trying to flip to the page, 1,388 pages. Yeah, it's a monster.

The Serendipity of Book Selection

But what was cool about this book is that I was looking it up on ChatGPT as I was researching it, seeing what it's about.

Apparently this author writes about Japanese folklore and various yokai. Just like I'm doing now with Gates of Okinawa.

It got me thinking about how these days I kind of let books find me. I mean, I'm always looking up different just recommendations.

You get stuff on social media. Sometimes, rarely, I get recommendations from other people. But I just don't know a lot of people who read as much as I do.

But, yeah, books tend to find me. This was a classic example of a book, an author finding me that is in the exact style that I'm writing right now.

I have no idea when I'm going to read this book. I mean, it's completely in Japanese. I'm still struggling through Chapter 1 of Harry Potter.

I'm barely halfway through that. But this is one of those aspirational books that maybe someday. I thought that was a cool story.

Writing on the Go: Embracing Mobile Technology

Today's writing session started while I was in a restaurant. In a local restaurant that my wife and I eat at pretty regularly.

They have a lot of local Okinawan food. I ordered my meal.

Today's writing style selection was writing on my phone. So I immediately just started banging it out. Just typing away.

I told a few people last night that I wrote the majority of my military autobiography, Hayden: Brave, on my phone. They were really surprised by that.

I understand why, too. It's pretty uncomfortable for most people to, especially older people, to type a lot on their phone.

It's just not something that most of us grew up doing, of course. It just didn't exist. It is pretty fatiguing when you're not used to it.

From Student Teaching to Novel Writing

I remember when I first started doing it back in 2019. When I was writing my first novel, Cereus & Limnic.

I was working as a student teacher at the time. Of course, I was spending a lot of time in the classroom. Sometimes I was subbing. Sometimes I was tutoring.

There was occasional downtime where I was at. I wasn't teaching full time. So I was like, man, these are some good opportunities to get some writing in.

But I'm super slow on the phone. That was a training opportunity for me.

So I started to slowly just get good at it and get more and more words on the phone. Now, flash forward five, six years later, or five years later.

Yeah, now something like Hayden Brave is possible. Today was another all-phone day.

Today's Writing Session: Diving into Description

I got 950-something words, close to 1,000 words in this chapter. I was planning on making this a longer chapter.

But I'm pretty pressed for time today. I've got a lot to do this weekend.

So I was like, man, I don't have time to really sit and do this. Especially if I'm going to do my whole promotion routine and do this recording, things like that.

But today's chapter was a rare one because it was mostly description. Yeah, in the past, I would have struggled to write something like this.

Tackling Unfamiliar Territory

Especially since it's description in an area that I don't know very well. We're talking about diving. We're underwater.

There's certain sensations that I'm describing that the main protagonist is dealing with. Then, of course, there's some pretty cool supernatural elements that I threw in there to just mix things up and increase just the overall urgency.

It's already a very critical situation. You're diving. It's bad weather. You're not just there to look at something. You're there to actually do something, reach an objective.

Then she has these other obstacles getting in her way. But the challenge in writing it was that it's all description.

Reflections on Descriptive Writing

In another ironic twist, I was reading, once again, reading Stephen King's On Writing. I happened to be reading the section about description.

Where he describes description and how he thinks of it. For the most part, I agree.

Of course, he takes more of an extreme. His opinions are pretty black and white, how he thinks of description. There's definitely a right way and a wrong way to do it with Stephen King.

The way I think of description is... It's not... I think of it like... It's proportional to the... It's always proportional to the character, for me.

So, it's... More description, it's more important. Less description, it's less important. That's how I think of it. That's pretty much how I go most of the time.

In a chapter like this, where it was all description. Very little dialogue until the very end. Where we get this kind of dramatic moment. Then the chapter ends.

It was a challenge. But I got through it.

Finding Your Voice in Description

There's one thing King is right about. When it comes to description, you just have to practice it. There's really no way to get about it.

You have to do it your way. Everybody does description different. But your brand of it is what makes it unique.

What makes your writing just stand out. Some people love people's description. Other people don't like the way they describe things.

So, it's up to you to decide how you do it. But you have to do it a lot to get better at it.

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