Welcome to the AbsoluteWrite Water Cooler! Please read The Newbie Guide To Absolute Write

Results 1 to 24 of 24

Thread: Can I make these kinds of references?

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Slytherin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Sarasota, FL
    Posts
    23

    Can I make these kinds of references?

    In one of my sci-fi stories, I have a lot of objects/concepts like force fields and balls of light. When describing the appearance of these things, I usually mention the of the size of them, since that can be vital to the scene. (I.e. sometimes the force field is huge, but other times it's the size of a golf ball.)

    However, my story is set in a very futuristic time and place, so the world I am describing is very different from the one we live in. (I don't think a game like golf would exist.) However, I'm having a hard time deciding how to describe the sizes of unusual things like force fields and balls of light without referencing basketballs, beach balls, golf balls -- I find myself using a lot of balls, lol. Here's an example of what I'm talking about:

    "She opened her palm and produced a force field the size of a golf ball."

    I feel like there should be a better way of doing this, without having to reference earthly objects or create clunkiness by giving specific measurements like: "--a force field that was one inch in diameter."

    Do you think it would be okay for me to continue referencing earthly objects in a story that takes place on a futuristic, faraway planet? If there's nothing technically wrong with that approach, I would be willing to continue making those comparisons. If not, does anyone have any suggestions of how I can describe sizes of things? Is the approach of giving specific measurements maybe not a bad idea after all? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks so much!

  2. #2
    Aye, ye scurvy dog! Sydneyd's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Portland
    Posts
    6,488
    In my opinion, referencing things that do not exist in the story is not the best choice. You may not even need the descriptions.

    In your example you say she opened her hand, so the force field fits in her hand. I already know it is the size of tennis ball or smaller, unless the character has differently shaped hands, ya get me?

  3. #3
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Slytherin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Sarasota, FL
    Posts
    23
    Well sometimes the characters DO make pretty huge force fields that don't exactly fit inside of their hands. I guess the excerpt I provided was a bad example. But like... for instance, she could spread both palms, holding her hands out in front of her and making a force field that was like... the size of a car or something. I should have mentioned that the force fields don't always come from inside of the hands, they can hover above the palm as well.

  4. #4
    Aye, ye scurvy dog! Sydneyd's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Portland
    Posts
    6,488
    Quote Originally Posted by Slytherin View Post
    Well sometimes the characters DO make pretty huge force fields that don't exactly fit inside of their hands. I guess the excerpt I provided was a bad example. But like... for instance, she could spread both palms, holding her hands out in front of her and making a force field that was like... the size of a car or something. I should have mentioned that the force fields don't always come from inside of the hands, they can hover above the palm as well.
    In that case you could say something like, "The force field eclipsed her view of the room..." I guess I'm just not a fan of giving exact measurements often in description. Hold out though, I'm sure someone will come a long with a better way

  5. #5
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Slytherin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Sarasota, FL
    Posts
    23
    That's still a good suggestion -- that I could just use more indicative language rather than giving specific size descriptions. Thanks for the response!

  6. #6
    Banned
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Minnesota, USA
    Posts
    2,702
    Try a duck's egg or something.

  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW benbenberi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    1,245
    Quote Originally Posted by Sarpedon View Post
    Try a duck's egg or something.
    But only if there are ducks in the future!

  8. #8
    Banned
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Minnesota, USA
    Posts
    2,702
    Ducks are a universal constant

  9. #9
    practical experience, FTW Dreity's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Upstate NY
    Posts
    882
    So the end of ducks is the end of the universe?

    I always had a lurking suspicion about that.
    My shiny new Twitter. 140 or less is hard.

    My Blog. Longer stuff, but still trying to cut down.

  10. #10
    practical experience, FTW
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    LA & TX
    Posts
    1,058
    Your characters have to eat, right? So, use common fruits & veggies to convey comparative sizes. Even in a future society or on another world food that humans can consume must be prevalent.

  11. #11
    Banned
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Minnesota, USA
    Posts
    2,702
    The snozzberries taste like snozzberries!

  12. #12
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    right here
    Posts
    26,976
    It would be better to use the size of something that existing in the world and that world as well. If necessary very basic things (eye ball etc).

    Honestly I would be just as bother by the far future protagonist using imperial measurements as knowing about golf balls.

  13. #13
    That hairy-handed gent
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Who ran amok in Kent
    Posts
    31,146
    This isn't just a problem for futuristic or otherworldly SF/Fantasy. Anyone writing a story set in a specific past setting needs likewise to be aware of the danger of anachronistic references. For example, in a medieval setting, you can't compare something to a basketball.

    caw
    "Badger! Badger! The weasels have stolen my motor-car!"

    "Frankly, Toad, I don't give a damn."

    -- Gone with the Wind in the Willows

  14. #14
    practical experience, FTW TroyJackson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Georgia
    Posts
    158
    Maybe use body parts?

    Size of a fist?
    The length of a hand?
    Minute like an eyeball?
    Come visit me at:

    http://www.tempestworks.com

    Also on:

    Facebook

    Twitter

  15. #15
    practical experience, FTW Tezzirax's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    374
    I did the body part thing. Heads, hands-breadths, so many men tell. But its best to SHOW how big something is. When I whoop out my forcefield, I don't want to hear 'oh wow, thats big', I want to hear 'ouch!'
    My Blog: Thomas Cardin
    My books, The Final Warden, City of Thunder, Lord of Vengeance

    WIP: The Fire of Falraan

  16. #16
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Slytherin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Sarasota, FL
    Posts
    23
    Using body parts is a good idea. Thanks for the suggestions, everyone!!

  17. #17
    practical experience, FTW MAP's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Utah
    Posts
    510
    Using body parts is a good idea, but so is using food.

    It was the size of a grape, an apple, a cantaloupe, a watermelon. Lots of round things in the fruit family to compare it to.
    My blog with five other awesome aspiring writers.

  18. #18
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Slytherin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Sarasota, FL
    Posts
    23
    Alright, I'm writing it down. Body parts and food are both really helpful suggestions. Thanks!

    What do you guys think I could use for very large objects that are bigger than any food or body part? Things the size of cars or larger?

  19. #19
    Onwards, ever onwards ClareGreen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    England
    Posts
    760
    As tall as a man, as big as three men, as big as a three-man travelpod, or as big as a freight shuttle, or the size of a Dynaxian Herd-Porker. Just make sure to define how big the three-man travelpod or the freight shuttle (or the Dynaxian Herd-Porker) is.
    Weekend Warrior (Fantasy Division)

  20. #20
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Slytherin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Sarasota, FL
    Posts
    23
    Lol @ Clare. Thank you!! I think I get the picture now.

  21. #21
    Benefactor Member Roxxsmom's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Lost in space. And meaning.
    Posts
    8,677
    I remember a comedian doing a monologue about how hail is always compared to sporting equipment (marbles, golf balls, baseballs etc), while tumors are compared to fruit (President so and so had several grape-sized polyps removed from his colon today and is recovering quietly at home).

    No idea what the unit of measure is for force fields. I think body parts might work best.

    As someone who writes fantasy set in a pre-industrial society, I feel your pain with regards to references that are salient both to my pov character and the readers.
    Please excuse me, I was raised by wolves.

    My twitter - My FB - My blog

  22. #22
    figuring it all out
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    57
    I suppose the first question you have to ask yourself is this: does golf still exist? If so, in what sort of capacity? Have new games emerged that feature balls of various sizes? Could you reference this without having to stop to give a potted history of the new game?

    If in doubt, though, I'd say it's always best to go with something that you know will still exist, like food or body parts. Of course, the problem with food is the same as the one with the golf balls: will this exist in your world? Another thing you could try is keeping it simple and just using various sizes (e.g. a small force-field). If you need it to be more specific, then I would have to agree that body parts may be the best one to go for.

  23. #23
    Word Monkey psychling7's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento
    Posts
    85
    Quote Originally Posted by Slytherin View Post
    In one of my sci-fi stories, I have a lot of objects/concepts like force fields and balls of light. When describing the appearance of these things, I usually mention the of the size of them, since that can be vital to the scene. (I.e. sometimes the force field is huge, but other times it's the size of a golf ball.)

    However, my story is set in a very futuristic time and place, so the world I am describing is very different from the one we live in. (I don't think a game like golf would exist.) However, I'm having a hard time deciding how to describe the sizes of unusual things like force fields and balls of light without referencing basketballs, beach balls, golf balls -- I find myself using a lot of balls, lol. Here's an example of what I'm talking about:

    "She opened her palm and produced a force field the size of a golf ball."

    I feel like there should be a better way of doing this, without having to reference earthly objects or create clunkiness by giving specific measurements like: "--a force field that was one inch in diameter."

    Do you think it would be okay for me to continue referencing earthly objects in a story that takes place on a futuristic, faraway planet? If there's nothing technically wrong with that approach, I would be willing to continue making those comparisons. If not, does anyone have any suggestions of how I can describe sizes of things? Is the approach of giving specific measurements maybe not a bad idea after all? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks so much!
    I think the important thing is to change it up. Last thing you want is to (something I'm totally guilty of) bog the reader with simile. "one-inch diameter" has worked in things I've read, but I wouldn't want to keep encountering this on every page. Also, "rested in the palm of my hand" is another one. And also, "too small to scare off..." or "stretched over my head and out beyond my waste". Supposedly the options are endless. Never feels that way though.

  24. #24
    Assistant Deputy Backup SillyLittleTwit's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    53
    In my current story, I described something as being 'thin as a pool cue'. This led me to decide that not only did pool exist in this setting, but I actually featured pool.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Custom Search