Write Right, Ya Ninnies: Aesthetics

Write Right, Ya Ninnies:

Aesthetics

First off, I’d just like to say, if someone has ever told you your writing was wrong, I really hope they just meant the grammar was off. Because if not, I have to personally go fight them on your behalf.

Hi there, I’m Phoenix B. Meadows, teen writer “extraordinaire”, and I’m here to impart some of my writerlyness unto you, since I feel weird calling it wisdom.

Aesthetics.

First of all, for those who look at this word and go “what the hell is she talking about, that isn’t a word,” I promise, it is, it’s just one that’s a pain to both say and spell.

So basically all the definitions for this word in my dictionaries are strangely long-winded and don’t get to the point, so here is what I mean whenever I say aesthetics: a part of an image, writing, etc. that brings up a specific feeling because of how it is displayed to the person viewing it.

So aesthetics bring up a feeling, whether it is sadness, joy, or just being creeped out, it’s important you get the right one, and that it doesn’t seem forced.

In my writing, I try to avoid words like, happy, sad, mad, and creepy to define a mood of the piece or present character (okay, creepy has a way of sometimes *cough*, creeping in). I like the reader to feel the happiness, instead of being bashed over the head by saying things like “Kate was so happy, as she went down the stairs to answer the door,” instead put something like, “Kate bounded down the stairs, rushing to get the door. She suppressed a giggle as she flung it open.” Not only does that now scream happy/excited, I’m willing to bet you want to know what is on the other side of that door…. I sort of do.

All that seems pretty easy though, right? Yeah, making you wonder why you’re reading this? Mm, maybe?

Well, that was only the character’s direct mood, and yeah, she’s happy, and it’s nice, but aesthetics should involve things like environment too. I know, writing emotion and environment stuff can be tricky, especially if it’s an action scene. But please, don’t get me started on action scenes or this post with NEVER END.

Let’s take the example with happy Kate and write it in two ways:

1. As happy and pleasant and joyful as we can (in a short amount of words)

And 2. as sad and dejected as possible.

Original: Kate bounded down the stairs, rushing to get the door. She suppressed a giggle as she flung it open.

1.
The chiming of the doorbell rang through the house, three long, bright notes. Kate hopped up, scrambling down the hall to the stairs. She hurled down them, stepping through sunny puddles of light and leaping the last two steps to the floor below. Grabbing the polished doorknob she practically tore it open, letting beads of sunlight pour in.

Still a pretty simple scene, but without ever using words like happy, I made it feel warm and excited and happy. If I’d said “she was happy” when she heard the doorbell it would be like hitting the reader over the head with the emotion and telling, rather than showing. Aesthetics is just showing, and using the surroundings to emphasize and magnify the desired feel. So I used things like, sunlight, and bright, and the eagerness with which the character—Kate—moved to show that everything was happy.

I personally, also greatly enjoy it when the scene is well described as being one way happy/sad/creepy, and the character is another, it’s a little hard to pull off sometimes. Someone sad might not see the sun rays as being a happy thing, you could describe them as being a mockery of how they feel, or make everything around them darker, there’s countless ways to change the aesthetics of a scene without changing the fact it’s sunny.

2. The doorbell tolled through the house like a rumbling thunder, waking Kate from her restless sleep. She slid from the bed, putting her feet into the bunny slippers next to it. One of them was missing an eye, so it looked like it was winking at her sardonically. She sighed, ignoring the bell as it went off again. Pulling a beanie cap on over her knotted hair, she started for the stairs. The hall was long and dark, rain cried over the window panes in streaks as it puttered up against them dully.

She descended the stairs, forgetting to skip the second to last step and earning a long squeak in protest. Crossing to the door, she stood up on tiptoes and looked through the peephole outside.

From this one we get the feeling that the character is depressed, and not taking care of herself. Her hair is knotted, she’s not sleeping well, hell, even her slippers are giving her sass. She thinks the rain on the windows looks like tears, and she doesn’t immediately open the door, excited to see someone, anyone. Words like “Tolling” and “bells” together cue the feeling of foreboding darkness in us from the very start, though it is a bit cliché.

So in conclusion, use aesthetics, they are your friend. Make a crapton of Pinterest aesthetics boards for a character, a rainy day, depression, happiness, etc., it’s fun, it’s helpful, and did I mention it’s fun?

I like to do exercises like this one with Kate. Take a character, and a place, and write it in three different ways, without aesthetics, with happy/excited aesthetics, and with something darker, like despair.

I hope this was helpful, and if not, no, you can’t have your five minutes back, sorry, I am not currently offering time refunds.

Now go and WRITE RIGHT.

Seriously, I will fight someone if they told you you write wrong and they didn’t mean using since instead of sense, or misspelling silhouette (because let’s get real, that word is impossible).

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