View Full Version : Red Lights

January 18th, 2011, 06:33 AM
Comments appreciated

Red Lights

Trifles of fettered light swam lazily through the gaps in the drapes and blinds. The delicacy of their radiance and warmth, lost to the odious blackness of the room, hung heavily in a haze. A mere accompaniment to a seamless composition of sorrow.
A cigarette adorned her unquiet grasp, smoke swathing her in swirls of noxious sentiments. The eddies and the silent dances, so perfect at once. When but for a moment, they would take a form pleasing to her gaze. And in the very next, before the shivering breath could escape her darkened lungs, they would rise ethereally, evanescing into a miasma of misty blackness.
There she would dream of those cold embraces, as one so frolicsome enamoured in the shackles of a melancholy love. Then through the obsidian silence, those sleepless whisperings of her mind versify thoughts once so resolute. Thus she sits, as one lost to a fever dream, dying in the withered arms of a wanton passion. Wherein once beauty found solace, and where now a solemn sadness pervades.

January 20th, 2011, 12:38 AM
I love the expansive vocabulary, but parts of the prose come across too flowery given the discrete things your trying to describe. I would consider losing some of your descriptive language to help the pace a long a bit (particularly adverbs). Adverbs have a tendency of slowing down pace and not adding much description.

For instance, "evanescing into a miasma of misty blackness" is obviously quite elegant in its lexicon, but I feel goes too far in describing the image at hand. Make it a little punchier/snappier by narrowing your description a little more.

"obsidian silence" is a fantastic line though, keep that :)

Aside from the above critique, I think this piece is quite strong. The mood is serene yet dark, defined in part by the language, but also by the images which you call upon. Good work!

January 20th, 2011, 01:46 AM
The musty odour of the richly leather-bound, gold-edged thesaurus permeated the over-heated, humid, atmosphere of the writer's loft.

Sorry, I couldn't resist. If you are not using a thesaurus, I apologise. If you are, donate it at once to a charity you don't like.

When you say 'Trifles of fettered light swum lazily through the gaps in the drapes and blinds' do you mean that insignificant bits of shackled light swam lazily...etc? Read the first sentence of Absalom, Absalom by William Faulkner to see how this effect can be achieved beautifully without resort to any but very common words. 'Swum' is the past participle of 'to swim' and requires a helper verb, either had or has. It cannot work alone.

I can't understand the next sentence well enough to be able to say what might be right or wrong with it. The words you use do not fit together, not in the way you are using them.

Try this: Download Ogden's Basic English Vocabulary from here (http://ogden.basic-english.org/words.html):

Now rewrite your piece using nothing but words on that list, and post it for us to make a comparison.

January 20th, 2011, 03:05 AM
You're right about the "swum" part, an honest mistake on my part. As for the thesaurus thing, which I did find quite amusing by the way, no I just joined a couple of days ago and racked something up to put on here. "Fettered light", a poor choice of words perhaps, but I wouldn't damn it as being entirely unusable. I'd argue that "trifles" is okay in this context, though I'm sure you'd disagree. As for Ogden's Basic English Vocabulary, it's just not as seemly as my "richly leather-bound, gold edged thesaurus", and for that reason alone I shan't be using it, thanks anyway though.

January 20th, 2011, 03:25 AM
cobbler - You are quite welcome. So, put together something more, and I promise not to make snide remarks about it.

January 20th, 2011, 03:28 AM
I shall try. But this style, your opinion is that it all together just doesn't work?

January 20th, 2011, 04:17 AM
cobbler - In my opinion, no. But you must understand that I've spent my life as a journalist. That means tell the story in a way that everyone can understand it. It does not mean dumbing it down, although many of today's journalists are on that path. It means using language in a way that communicates. Obscure, unfamiliar, words can season writing, just as the chips of habanero pepper, yellow onion, and garlic I put in my rice and beans flavours the dish. But too much pepper, onion, and garlic, and the dish becomes unpalatable.

The old man who was the publisher and editor of the first newspaper I sold articles to taught me that the word that falls naturally onto the page is the right word, and his favourite literary quote was from Mark Twain, who said the difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between the lightning and the lightning bug.

When you reach for the unfamiliar word for no other reason than to expand the vocabulary of your writing, chances are you will reach for the almost right word. The only solution is to read more, until you own all the words you'll ever need. And when you reach that point, that confident feeling of owning all the words you ever need, regard that feeling as a signal that you need to read more.

Journalism and fiction have this in common - both need to tell a story that will keep the reader's interest.

Clayburn Griffin
January 20th, 2011, 06:28 PM
I think the weird wordiness works.

January 21st, 2011, 02:43 AM
garza I thank you for your comments, though initially derisory they may have been, they are food for thought to say the very least. The truth is that I'm not an avid reader of contemporary literature. I am a student primarily of poetry, thus heavily influenced by the classic romantics of the 17-1800's, I hold little store by the literary rights and wrongs of the modern era. I write solely for personal enjoyment, and take pleasure in attempting, and indeed in failing, to imitate the abstract imagery utilised by the Laker Poets and their peers. But your critiques have been most interesting, and I look forward to hearing your opinions on any pieces I post in the future.

And thanks by the way to aye_priori and Clayburn Griffin; I'm glad you liked it.

January 21st, 2011, 03:36 AM
cobbler - If my posts came across as derisory, then you have my apology. They weren't meant that way, and I believe you already know that.

I'm somewhat fond of the Lake District poets myself, sharing an appreciation for the old sheepdog, WW, with Horace Rumpole.

If you write something for personal enjoyment today, and find that the piece still looks good tomorrow, then you have achieved what you meant to achieve. I spent most of my working life writing news stories, tv documentaries, and magazine articles about wars, revolutions, hurricanes, floods, rapes, and robberies, all to pay the rent and buy the groceries, but truth to tell, every piece I wrote, no matter the subject, I wrote for my own pleasure in seeing how the story unfolded on the page, watching the words work together to paint pictures of life as it is.

And do consider this. I never, ever, comment on any piece of writing unless I see a good deal of value in it, even if the style of it does not work for me. Let us see more, and I promise I'll behave.

Or try to.