Share and Share Alike

DebE —  June 21, 2012 — 10 Comments

I don’t do a lot of description – settings or characters. Here’s one that came to me last night. Is it doable, a piece of drivel or, even, crap?

Another villa hall with as many wall-hangings might have been considered cosy, but Braph’s walls exhibited a hardness that reflected the man himself. Metal gadgets of various shape, size and purpose adorned either side of the dark hall. There were no windows – the only light emanated through those doors that stood ajar. Large and small polished copper and steel cogs hung from the walls, their purpose, if any over and above decorative, unknown. Copper pipes ran along the bottom of one wall, the tinkle of water flowing through metal underpinned every creaky floorboard and each errant breeze.

EDIT: Here’s my revisited version – this with just a trip through the thesaurus, which may not be ideal …

Another villa hall with as many wall-hangings might have been considered cosy, but Braph’s walls exhibited a hardness that reflected the man himself. Metal gadgets of manifold shape, size and purpose ornamented either side of the dim hallway. There were no windows – the only light ducked through those doors that stood ajar. Large and small polished copper and steel cogs hung from hooks on the walls, their purpose, if any over and above decorative, unknown. Copper pipes ran along the bottom of one wall. The tinkle of water flowing through metal underpinned every creaky floorboard and each errant breeze.

So, was that all the opening needed? Or was I nowhere near the target to begin with?

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DebE

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Deb E was born in New Zealand’s North Island, but her parents corrected that within months, moving south to Dunedin and staying there. Childhood nights were spent falling asleep to cover versions of Cliff Richard and the Shadows and other Rock ’n Roll classics played by her father’s band, and days were spent dancing to 45 LPs. Many of her first writing experiences were copying down song lyrics. She graduated to scientific reports when she studied a nematophagus fungus in the Zoology department of the University of Otago, trading all traces of popularity for usefulness… then traded both for fiction. Mum of one human & four fur-babies.

10 responses to Share and Share Alike

  1. 

    Interesting scene although I would suggest being more descriptive of the “gadgets” and “cogs”.Perhaps in the broader context it makes more sense. In an isolated excerpt, I can envision anything from kitchen utensils to instruments of torture, The wide range of possibilities can work against you. Also if character can see that much detail there should be some other light source.

    • 

      Ah, yes – detail, detail, detail. Hence why first drafts don’t get published. Thanks for that. I will re-assess it when the toddler has his sleep today.

  2. 

    Interesting! I think it works.

    • 

      Thank you. I admit, I haven’t changed it, so far (e.g. more detail). Thing is, the girl looking at it doesn’t know enough about what she’s seeing to go into much detail. It’s a key point in my story – it’s when things change from “A fantasy novel set in the Wild West” to “Quite clearly Steampunk”. That probably happens too far in, but, meh, I’m new here, I don’t know what I’m doing.
      Still, your “Interesting” is the kind of response I’d be after, so: phew!

  3. 

    Hi! I’m bouncing over here from your comment at Jami’s — the one about whether you should polish, polish, polish and how to know you are finished — and it’s a surprise to see that you do these snippets for your readers! What a great way to get a reader’s POV before you dig too deeply.

    If you don’t mind, I’ll tell you what an editor could say about how to look at this: the first sentence of a paragraph sets a tone. In this case, “cozy.” The description is the antithesis of cozy, so at some point, the character could make that clear. That way, the reader is confident that “antithesis” really is your goal. For example, just after the second sentence there is a way to do that: “Rather than the soft drape of tapestries, metal gadgets …” Another way to reinforce that “so-very-not cozy” is to avoid cozy words. While the word itself might otherwise fit, for example, “emanated” doesn’t sound metallic or hard enough (to me).

    I realize your snippet is a rough draft, but it did give me a chance to show you what parts I’d recommend for polish. Of course, this level of polish is close to last. Don’t do what I do and let it substitute for asking yourself polish questions about tension and plot development, which have to be handled first. (I go for the quick resolution too often. It’s hard for me to hurt my characters!)

    My own writing instructor liked to say “Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid!” and “Keep writing.” It’s a combo I’ll recommend to you, too.

    Lynn

    • 

      Ooh, thank you. I really appreciate your comment re: “emanated”. It does make sense to choose words more carefull.
      At the moment, I’m trying to do all the polishing all at once. An opportunity to enter my manuscript in a competition where the prize is a critique for the top three has come up. But, the due date is 31st July. It has forced me to really concentrate on putting as much energy as possible into my manuscript, as I still have the last few chapters to write – luckily, structure-wise, they’re pretty well outlined, but it’s still a huge challenge. Part of me thinks “You can’t do it that fast, not anything of quality, anyway”, but, if I don’t, I’ll have a whole year to languish over it before another chance at the same prize comes up, and by then I’ll likely have paid for a critique (I intend to get a manuscript assessment at some point). And, I have already given my early chapters a good going over, many times (sometimes the new words aren’t flowing, so I just go and edit … it may not be the most efficent way, but so be it). So, I figure, why not try. I mean, if I decide it’s not worth submitting, I won’t, but I’m giving myself the month to find out. And, it’s probably better to give myself the chance by submitting *something* than to bow out without trying.
      Anyway, I’m rambling … trying to justify my decision to myself.
      Thanks for your comments. This is why I love the online writing community.

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