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  1. #16
    CEO of the Monsters Lugion's Avatar
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    Default Re: Description of Pokemon and canon characters: Necessary?

    In the past, I wrote as if I were writing to an audience that knew nothing about Pokémon. I realized this was rather erroneous on my part, as all of my readers obviously knew enough about Pokémon to be specifically reading Pokémon fan fiction. These days, I prefer a middle-of-the-road approach: give a fairly detailed (but staying away from sensory overload) description initially, and then use only passing descriptors from there on out.

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    Default Re: Description of Pokemon and canon characters: Necessary?

    As a reader I've long felt annoyed when I saw too much description of cannon characters. I wouldn't mind it so much but very rarely does it add anything to the story or feel particularly entertaining. Therefore unless I can think of an entertaining description, my policy has been to not give description. Reading this thread though is making me think twice.

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    Default Re: Description of Pokemon and canon characters: Necessary?

    When it comes to Pokemon, I think it can go either way. I usually don't give Pokemon descriptions in my fanfics except for if the appearance of said Pokemon is supposed to be dramatic or otherwise significant. Sometimes I'll give other Pokemon very brief descriptions, though.

    As for human characters, I really enjoy writing descriptions for them as well as reading them in other's fanfics. Even though we all may know what a certain character looks like (or could look it up) writers can have very different ways of describing the same character, and that's what makes these types of descriptions so fun.
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    Default Re: Description of Pokemon and canon characters: Necessary?

    I don't give Pokemons descriptions. People already know what they look like anyways. I only add some stuff that might be a unique feature, like a Vulpix missing a tail, or a Buneary wearing a hat.

    In case of canon human characters, I don't give them descriptions either, unless said character has different designs per game (for example, Morty has a complete redesign in HGSS and looks different from his GSC self). Still, I don't mind what my readers imagine about the character in my story - it doesn't matter if they imagine Ruby in his RS outfit, or his Emerald outfit when reading my story.

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    Default Re: Description of Pokemon and canon characters: Necessary?

    It's okay to give a description of a canon character if they are a recently-released character or if they're wearing something that isn't usually what they wear. After all, you can't assume that, say, Cynthia is going to wear her black suit in the pool.
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    Default Re: Description of Pokemon and canon characters: Necessary?

    I'd have to agree with what's been said before: description is necessary, for you should assume that your reader isn't familiar with the characters in it. For example (not Pokémon related, but works nonetheless), in my Yu-Gi-Oh fanfic, which I started on Dueling Network's forums, the last monster summoned in the first chapter was Blue-Eyes White Dragon. Blue-Eyes, being one of the most iconic monsters in the franchise, is well-known throughout the fan base, and thus, just saying the name will let the person know what it is. However, before the name was even said by the summoning character, I gave a full-blown description, describing the entire dragon in a action scene in the only way I knew how to for said action scene: I described each body part as it appeared, until the full dragon was shown and named. And then, cliff-hanger.

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    Default Re: Description of Pokemon and canon characters: Necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sadrina View Post
    I don't think you really need too, unless there's been substantial change in an appearance, such as; a new outfit, evolution, general aging, etc. However, I always throw in small bits and pieces of description, to break the monotony of (insert name) did this, or (insert name) said. Such as substituting 'the bipedal, orange Pokemon' or 'the reptilian Pokemon' for 'Charmander.' However, I don't think they warrant nearly as much attention when it comes to getting an appearance across as OCs, for obvious reasons, and almost never deserve a paragraph describing them (under most circumstances), though that applies to all characters.
    Sounds like you have a case of Lavender Unicorn Syndrome. Using descriptors instead of names/pronouns is frowned upon by many authors (including myself), because 'the reptilian Pokémon' takes more effort to connect with 'Charmander' in the reade's head than just writing 'Charmander'. If you're worried about monotony, we have these nifty things called pronouns that can help you spice up your sentences. In general readers subscribe to Occam's Razor, and are looking for the simplest explanation for any given phrase in an author's work. When you have already described and named Charmander, calling it anything but may lead readers to assume that 'the reptilian Pokémon' is a new addition to the scene that has not yet been named. Additionally, when you write 'the reptilian Pokémon', readers have to think 'Does he mean Charmander, Squirtle, Bulbasaur, Dratini, Axew, Tyranitar, or some other reptilian Pokémon?' This breaks immersion. (It obviously applies to any descriptor, not just 'the reptilian Pokémon', just using your example.) Sorry for the lecture, but LUS is a pet peeve of mine.

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    Default Re: Description of Pokemon and canon characters: Necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by -Glory Blaze- View Post
    Sounds like you have a case of Lavender Unicorn Syndrome.
    I've heard it called Burly Detective Syndrome, but the end result is the same. And it's absolutely correct: Referring to a character in the same context but in different ways creates ambiguity because the reader may or may not be sure that those references are, in fact, intended to be the same character.

    This actually reminds me of certain logic puzzles where you are given clues to figure out who did what where and when, and one of the clues is specifically to the tune of:

    There were five people sitting at the table: Tom, the redhead, the five-year-old, the girl with a pet cat, and the boy drinking lemonade.
    The purpose of this clue is to list all the characters at a time, and by referring to them in different ways the reader can rule out some possible cross-category combinations on the spot -- i.e. Tom is not the redhead; the five-year-old is not the one drinking lemonade.

    For combating it, if it's a POV character, you absolutely only ever refer to them in the same way, e.g. first/third person pronoun/name. If it's not a POV character and the narrator isn't allowed inside their head, refer to them by what they were established to the audience as. (Of course, like all rules, an exception here and there can make things interesting.)
    Last edited by Stratelier; 13th August 2013 at 01:52 AM.
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    Default Re: Description of Pokemon and canon characters: Necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by -Glory Blaze- View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Sadrina View Post
    I don't think you really need too, unless there's been substantial change in an appearance, such as; a new outfit, evolution, general aging, etc. However, I always throw in small bits and pieces of description, to break the monotony of (insert name) did this, or (insert name) said. Such as substituting 'the bipedal, orange Pokemon' or 'the reptilian Pokemon' for 'Charmander.' However, I don't think they warrant nearly as much attention when it comes to getting an appearance across as OCs, for obvious reasons, and almost never deserve a paragraph describing them (under most circumstances), though that applies to all characters.
    Sounds like you have a case of Lavender Unicorn Syndrome. Using descriptors instead of names/pronouns is frowned upon by many authors (including myself), because 'the reptilian Pokémon' takes more effort to connect with 'Charmander' in the reade's head than just writing 'Charmander'. If you're worried about monotony, we have these nifty things called pronouns that can help you spice up your sentences. In general readers subscribe to Occam's Razor, and are looking for the simplest explanation for any given phrase in an author's work. When you have already described and named Charmander, calling it anything but may lead readers to assume that 'the reptilian Pokémon' is a new addition to the scene that has not yet been named. Additionally, when you write 'the reptilian Pokémon', readers have to think 'Does he mean Charmander, Squirtle, Bulbasaur, Dratini, Axew, Tyranitar, or some other reptilian Pokémon?' This breaks immersion. (It obviously applies to any descriptor, not just 'the reptilian Pokémon', just using your example.) Sorry for the lecture, but LUS is a pet peeve of mine.
    I tend to forgo descriptions and just use the name, unless I purposely want the reader to be guessing the pokemon/person in question (for example, if the character whose point of view I'm writing it from doesn't recognize the pokemon). So I'd put something like "The first trainer sent out a rattata, and the second trainer sent out some green bipedal reptile with a thick tail and a red underbelly."

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    Default Re: Description of Pokemon and canon characters: Necessary?

    That's exactly correct. Once the trainer (and therefore the audience) knew what that Pokémon was, you'd start referring to it as Grovyle instead of using more descriptives, though, right?

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    Default Re: Description of Pokemon and canon characters: Necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by jjl2357 View Post
    I tend to forgo descriptions and just use the name, unless I purposely want the reader to be guessing the pokemon/person in question (for example, if the character whose point of view I'm writing it from doesn't recognize the pokemon). So I'd put something like "The first trainer sent out a rattata, and the second trainer sent out some green bipedal reptile with a thick tail and a red underbelly."
    As far as I know, Lavender Unicorn Syndrome doesn't refer to the original, introductory description but more to subsequent mentions throughout the work. So when you're saying that the trainer sends out his green bipedal reptile with a thick tail and red underbelly that's probably a treecko, that's not LUS. However, if you go on to credit every action the maybe-treecko does to "the green reptile," then you start going into LUS territory.

    On that note, I've read so many fanfictions that refer to Dawn as "the bluenette" it's not even funny. Like at first it was funny, because mild puns, and then ugggh. XD Personal qualms, I suppose. And Ash the raven-haired trainer, Misty the fiery redhead, and so forth. I think LUS derives from the repeated lessons that burgeoning writers get to use plenty of description, which results in, well... plenty of description. >.<

    Back on to the original topic and stuff, I'm okay with going both ways. Sure, we can imagine what canon characters and pokemon look like, but then we can also imagine what the battles look like, and then the setting, and then the rest of the plot, so why bother writing anyway?

    ...I jest. But I think that description of canon characters/pokemon should have the same level of description as anything else. If you're on the Hemingway side of things and don't do purple prose for your setting or actions or internal dialogue, then it makes sense to have minimalist description for your characters, whether they're canon or not. If you're more of a "describe ALL OF THE THINGS" sort of guy, then you'd describe the canon characters/pokemon just as much as you would describe anything else.

    I tend to sit in the first camp, but sometimes I slip into the other one. Ya know. Minimalist and whatnot.

  12. #27
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    Default Re: Description of Pokemon and canon characters: Necessary?

    Since we're talking about the Lavender Unicorn Syndrome, I got a question. At times, when I don't want to repeat a Pokémon's name too many times in an area of text, for example Don from Flames of Revolutionary, I usually refer him as the Flame Pokémon in order to prevent repetitions. Could that be considered Lavender Unicorn Syndrome, even when the readers already know who I'm talking about?
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    Default Re: Description of Pokemon and canon characters: Necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by Elysia View Post
    As far as I know, Lavender Unicorn Syndrome doesn't refer to the original, introductory description but more to subsequent mentions throughout the work. So when you're saying that the trainer sends out his green bipedal reptile with a thick tail and red underbelly that's probably a treecko, that's not LUS. However, if you go on to credit every action the maybe-treecko does to "the green reptile," then you start going into LUS territory.
    Actually, it's not LUS as long as you're using your references consistently. If you never confirm that the green reptile is a Treecko, then the only moniker you've used to identify that creature is, well, "the green reptile" and it's not LUS to keep using that. (So long as there are no other green reptiles in the same context, which would create ambiguity.) However, if you've established that the creature has a name and that name is "Treecko" ("Bob", etc.), it's switching back to calling it "the green reptile" that makes it LUS.
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    (No wonder Pokemon nicknames are so difficult to think up.)

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    Default Re: Description of Pokemon and canon characters: Necessary?

    Stratelier covered the situation better than I could put it. I know you want to avoid being repetitive, but it's LUS-ish to use an epithet where it isn't needed, especially if you've established that a Pokemon is a certain species. Using a pronoun is a good idea here because like using "said" in dialogue, "him/her/it" tends to be invisible and can be repeated as much as you need without getting tiresome.

    The best times to whip out an epithet are:
    • When first introducing a character when the text is from another character's point of view, and/or when the reader doesn't know their names yet ("A woman in a red dress was sitting in the hotel lobby. I stayed with my friend the whole time, and the woman in red never took her eyes off of us. She approached both of us and said her name was Cheryl. After I got a glass of water, Cheryl reached into her purse and pulled out a worn leather book.")
    • When the character doesn't have a name, and is only referred to by their description ("A man in a tan jacket was at the door. I didn't dare answer, but he stayed there for almost an hour. Just as he turned to leave, the man opened a briefcase full of flies.")
    • When you want to show one character's relationship to another ("No," her sister said, "I don't think we should go there tonight.")
    • When you're in the POV of a character and want to show their opinion of another character. (Jason never liked Tom, and he dreaded every time the bastard showed up at his door.")

  15. #30
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    Default Re: Description of Pokemon and canon characters: Necessary?

    On the other hand, LUS can apply even if you haven't given a character a name, solely if you aren't addressing them consistently. E.g. if you're constantly switching between "the green reptile", "the leaf-tail", "the wood gecko", "the yellow-eyed biped", then you definitely have LUS. There's a time and a place to work in these physical descriptions, and dialogue/action tags are not it.
    "What?! You want me to nickname someone I just met?! You shouldn't put people on the spot like this!"
    (No wonder Pokemon nicknames are so difficult to think up.)

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