Monday, May 9, 2011

Thinking Outside of the Description Box :)

When I write, I love using unusual metaphors, descriptions, etc. to show a common thing in an uncommon light.
New word pictures that haven't been used so many times you can see straight through them.
Interesting word choices.
Descriptions that make people think. But not in such a way that it leaves people puzzling over what I mean.

Dickens is the master of this illusive technique-

"The sky was dark and gloomy, the air was damp and raw, the streets were wet and sloppy. The smoke hung sluggishly above the chimney-tops as if it lacked the courage to rise, and the rain came slowly and doggedly down, as if it had not even the spirit to pour."

When I read this quote I always know exactly what the weather was like- I am almost there inside it with the characters. :)

One of my favorite descriptions of a child is found in E. Nesbit's The Railway Children:

"There were three of them. Roberta was the eldest. Of course, Mothers never have favourites, but if their Mother had had a favourite, it might have been Roberta. Next came Peter, who wished to be an Engineer when he grew up; and the youngest was Phyllis, who meant extremely well."

I absolutely *love* that description of Phyllis. Don't we all know a little child who, if not exactly well-behaved, means extremely well? :)

And then of course we have C.S. Lewis' stunning description of Aslan's voice in The Silver Chair:

"Anyway, she had seen its lips move this time, and the voice was not like a man's. It was deeper, wilder, and stronger; a sort of heavy, golden voice. It did not make her feel any less frightened than she had been before, but it made her frightened in rather a different way."

It's fun to mess around in your writing with creative descriptions. Take a description of the summer heat. Let's say this is the original that you want to spice up:
"It was the heat of summer. The air was hotter than an oven, and silent, except for the cicadas buzzing in the the trees."

You could take a sheet of paper, and write different descriptions, like this:

"It was high summer- the time of year when you're careful not to stand too close to someone for fear of sticking together."


"It was August. The world lay in languid silence beneath the sweltering sun, all nature lulled into a heated sleep except for the insects who rasped in the trees with persistent monotony."

"Summertime was here in earnest. Popsicle melting weather. Dash-across-the-blacktop-to-avoid-blisters-on-your-feet weather. The time of year when everyone means to do yard work, but no one gets past a glass of lemonade beneath the shade tree."

Just play around with your own ideas and try out different styles and combinations! :) It's so much fun. Oh! And I mustn't forget to remind you once again about the A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words" contest! :) -Rachel


Anonymous said...

Fabulous! That was such a great post. I loved all your examples. <3 Great, great job!

Abigail said...

You are so talented with words, Rachel!