Creating The Iron Wood

This is a very difficult task for me. I can’t imagine why, as I have a special affinity for dark, creepy forests. I spent most of my childhood prowling the woods while dreaming up all kinds of fantastical tales! So, why am I getting so stuck? I think I need a vocabulary lesson of all things relating to dark, creepy forests. Haha!

How many ways can you describe a whisper? Or the reaching tendrils of some sinister climbing plant?

Here’s an example of a descriptive passage that is stumping me:

There was no path to follow in this dark place, or if there ever had been, it had long been overgrown. Poisonous vines, with leaves of a dark, oily-green, crept about the trunks of blackened trees; tendrils unfurled, grasping at the legs of the dark elves’ horses.

Ever deeper into the suffocating gloom, they rode. The dark elves began to detect sounds which they had not heard when first they entered the Iron Wood. Gnarled boughs creaked and groaned; dark leaves stirred as if by a breeze, though the air was heavy and still; and it seemed to Ásbjorn that the trees whispered.

Thoughts, anyone?

Published by Jessica Urquhart

First off, who am I? My name is Jessica Urquhart. Writing has always been a hobby of mine, which got its start in middle and highschool, when I'd write short stories for the amusement of my friends and classmates. Currently, I'm working on my first book, my one true love of a story I've been saying I would one day write. Well, that day has come. If you'd care to follow my musings on the adventures and hurdles of writing my first fantasy book, then please, read my blog.

16 thoughts on “Creating The Iron Wood

  1. The path if it ever existed, in this dark place, had long been overgrown/ Ever deeper into the dark wood they rode, The dark elves heard supernatural sounds created by the breeze, although the air was still and it seemed to absjorn that the leaves called out his name.

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    1. The name thing isn’t a bad idea. I like the wording I’ve got so far. But adding additional details is posing a challenge. How many ways can you describe creeping vines? There must be some vegetation growing here. I like the idea of the plants here growing in darkness. How would such plants look and act? Plants acting? Yes, I know, sounds strange, but if you think about it, plants do have behavioural tendencies. It all just happens at such a slow pace that we mere mortals cannot see the movement. Of course, maybe in the Iron Wood some plants can be seen moving, such as the vines which try to ensnare living things.

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    1. Oh yes! I like that! Slithering greenery! This forest is literally one and the same as Myrk Wood from the Hobbit. I hadn’t planned on this, until, while reading the lore, I came upon this dark forest and the legend of Angrboða. I had been hoping to incorporate her into the story, and this adventure is leading up to it, though I still don’t know how it will play out. Given the fact that I am basing this woods on the same one as Tolkien based his, I run the risk of it seeming like I’m copying him. Which I’m not, but you know how it is. There is no sun light penetrating the trees, so the dark elves will struggle to navigate in other ways. I wanted to send someone up a tree, but that is exactly what Tolkien did in the hobbit. Lol!

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  2. You try reading from other influences if you have any and combine ideas. If you are able get a photocopy cut out as it you are making a poison pen letter make an ideas board. Using coloured pens to underline what you like best highlight and use what you have highlighted.

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    1. I’d love to do a whole wall of visuals, but there’s just never enough time. I’d never get any writing done. Yesterday, I plastered the wall with paper cutouts to make a collage style Iron Wood forest, just to give me some kind of visual inspiration.

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  3. Hi Jessica. I’m starting to repeat myself with every comment, but what you wrote is fantastic in developing a vision in the reader’s mind. The secret is never overdue it or it becomes oppressive to read or diverts from more important aspects of the story. Less can be better and allows the reader’s imagination to draw the picture of the dark forest. Instead of describing the forest in detail, stick to what you have as a major introduction to the forest and then add challenges along the way. For instance, if the forest seems to have a life of it’s own, you could describe undergrowth struggling to rise and compete for a small patch of light through the canopy. Mainly, you want to stay away from long strings of adverbs and adjectives. Use them sparingly along the way after the initial introduction. I think it will be better to use a few sentences interspersed in the forest trek that have a strong impact rather than just describe along the way. Highlight a struggle or effect of the poisonous vines, use dialog to describe the affect on the dark elves, like the creeping of fear up their spine, their dark eyes turning redrimmed and runny. You could describe mental impacts or physical impacts through some distressed conversation or point of view. In such a case it would strengthen Ásbjorn’s character if he shows concern for his troops and determination to get them through the forest. At the point of him showing his strength, challenge him with some occurance or the meeting with Angrboda that complicates or aleves his situation depending on your intent. As always, just my over caffienated opinion. You have done a marvelous job with this paragraph now you can ease up on descriptives of flora and fauna and give those dark elves the challenge of a lifetime. 🙀👻☠️

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    1. Thanks! I know what they are supposed to achieve, but I just haven’t figured out how and what all will happen before they succeed. I wrote something which happens when the cross the river. It’s a big change from the excerpt I posted, but although a little dangerous, nothing much happens, and it’s more bizarre than it is suspenseful, in my opinion. Once they’re in he woods, I’m considering something to do with wolves, as always inspired by the mythology. It will come to me, all in its own time. ☺ Thanks for the tips. I agree about not overloading descriptives. The biggest issue is trying to sound redundant, using the same few descriptive phrases for ever dark forest the various characters enter.

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      1. Oh, the evil redundancy! It happens to me regularly. I just note it and keep going then when I go back, I focus on trying something fresh. Like you said, it comes in its own time. That’s why, when I get stuck hard in one place, I’ll go work in a new area and circle back later.

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      2. Ha, me. 🤔🙄 hmmmm. I’ve written an anthology of short stories and seven books. The first two were semi autobiographical, a series called Return of Dragons, and now a Mermaid story is in progress. I’m a better editor than writer in my personal assessment and have helped publish 4 books and beta read preliminary edit several others. My first book was a disaster of every noobie mistake but It has gone through extensive editing in prep for publish and I learned a great deal from that. The others I will release on a schedule so I don’t get caught without anything to meet my schedule obligations. In my professional job, I’ve published countless publications on research, analysis, and support for public law development. I don’t really count that as being relevant to my fiction writing but I do more in that area. My genre is science fiction fantasy. I take today’s reality and twist it just a little. Since I work in research and development in measurement sciences, I get a lot of new science I can morph into a reality for the story. If you have time someday you can check it out at http://www.returnofdragons.wordpress.com. The mermaid table of contents has focus but you can click on the link for the dragon stories at the bottom or from the menu at the top. I would love your impression, good, bad, or indifferent. That’s how I find out what works or doesn’t. I’ve neglected writing recently but things are slowing down for the holidays and I hope to get back at it soon.

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      3. Wow! Sounds like you keep pretty busy writing! I’ll be glad to check out your stories, and will add it to the list! Wouldn’t it be nice if days were longer than 24 hours? There’s so much reading I want to do. I haven’t even read a book since mid summer!

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      4. I agree. If I get 6 hours sleep I feel privledged and lazy. I have hundreds of unread books in my library and bookmarks in a dozen of them where I stopped and haven’t finished. I’m off four days for thanksgiving and I’m planning on writing until my brain cramps, then I’ll read until I pass out. That should catch me up LoL 🤓

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