Every writer has their weak points. Visual descriptions is definitely one of mine, I’ll own that. I can muddle my way through describing people and clothing all right. In those cases, it’s mostly a matter of feeling unnatural to me, the process of writing those descriptions. I know how do to it, I’m just not happy with the results a lot of the time.
But the one that really fails me? Architecture. Here because I lack the instinctive vocabulary. Yes, I can look things up, research, etc., but when it comes down to it, I don’t know, on a gut level, how to describe buildings. skylines, etc.
Let’s take the City of Maradaine, for example. I know, deep in my subconscious, what it looks like. Had I drawing skills, I could show it that way. But I don’t. All I have is words, and the words fail me in this instance.
Now, I could just cheat it. A few buzzwords to give the sense of Dickensian London (or worse, Renaissance Faire town)– but that’s not really right. Closer comparison come to looking at old neighborhoods of cities like Boston, Montreal or Mexico City. Look at these, trying to see past the cars and powerlines to the bones of what’s there.
There’s still a certain use of keywords to get my points across: “cobblestone” is a big one. “Brick” is another.
And then I’ll be able to paint a clear picture of the city, without resorting to adding a bunch of pictures….