200 word exercise. Louisville, KY


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  1. #1
    Member wainscottbl's Avatar
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    200 word exercise. Louisville, KY

    Feel the need to work on the art of environmental description. Character description, I am very good at that..but, I am less sure about the former. Thoughts please:

    Last night, I looked outside, and saw that the ceiling was very low; I couldn’t even see downtown. “Definitely IFR conditions tonight,” I told myself. I heard no planes, so they must have been landing the other way, in any case. I decided that it was not simply very cloudy, like it gets sometimes, where the city fades in the low clouds; no, it was foggy, and very early for fog, because it was not even eleven.

    This morning of course, the fog is there, and the waking city still lays hidden in the grey blanket. I can see the interstate outside my widow, but not much past it. The McDonald's sign, less than five minutes away, is there, but only a grey behind it. It’s beautiful, really.

    The temporal lobe is particularly moved, causing a seizure; ringing in the right ear, always the confirmation; and there was already an ecstatic episode this morning. Beauty will do that. I thought on a beautiful woman and love’s nature. And now, a beautiful site, reminds me of my childhood, this grey, rainy day in front of my grandmother’s house in Frankfort. It’s so abstract, because it’s not a particular memory, but the idea of a memory.
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  2. #2
    Remove the fat and let implication work for you. If you talk about the sky isn't it obvious that you either looked at it or checked the reports?
    Last night, I looked outside, and saw that the ceiling was very low; I couldn’t even see downtown.
    Last night the ceiling was too low to see the lights of downtown.

    Fewer words = more impact.

    And combine where possible to make a more natural flow. Since there's no one but the narrator here, do we care if the words were spoken or thought?

    Last night a glance through the window showed definite IFR conditions, with a ceiling too low to even see the lights of downtown.

    I left IFR conditions because I'm assuming that your intended audience knows what the letters mean without having to stop and think about it. If they're not pilots I'd use the actual title, or something like "instrument flying weather."

    That aside, see how the first part of the line places us, then gives the result of having looked? The last part is an amplification of the condition., and so comes after the statement of the condition.
    I heard no planes, so they must have been landing the other way,
    An unfounded assumption. We've been given no time frame so it's possible the narrator didn't wait long enough. It's also possible that conditions are bad enough that there were no flights.
    in any case. I decided that it was not simply very cloudy, like it gets sometimes, where the city fades in the low clouds; no, it was foggy, and very early for fog, because it was not even eleven.
    Makes no sense. Fog is fog and can be seen at a glance. And if it was foggy the ceiling is zero and the first line unnecessary. In any case, the reader knows that clouds come and go, so why tell them about the weather on days other then this one?
    This morning of course, the fog is there,
    Why "of course?" Is it a given that if there's fog at night it must be there in the AM?
    I can see the interstate outside my widow, but not much past it.
    First, you told the reader that the fog id still there. But fog is a cloud too lazy to fly, and you placed the ceiling at ground level at night, so how can the speaker see a multi-lane highway that must be at least several hundred feet away in the fog? In any case, by the wording the road is within feet of the window, and we know it's outside, so that needs to be fixed.

    The last paragraph I can't comment on because I was unable to parse it into something meaningful, given my lack of context for what happened before the excerpt began.

    Not good news, I know. Still, I hope it was of some help.

  3. #3
    Member wainscottbl's Avatar
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    Yes. And the reader may have no idea about aviation. Landing the other way means that planes land one way depending on wind. They fly into the wind as much as possible to avoid the wind getting under the tail and causing them to stall. Been a while since I flew, but that's the idea. So, at a controlled airport, they are required to fly the set runway. At an uncontrolled airfield, they should fly into the wind, but, technically, there is no requirement. You don't even have to announce your position. Of course, in emergencies, you can land one what runway you want. The ceiling is the level of the clouds. But, you are right, a reader may not know that. And it gets repetitive, etc. Thanks for the feedback. It helps. Oh, and my aviation stuff may be a little fuzzy...so any errors, well....but, ah, the good old days, when I wasn't grounded...

    EDIT: And it looks like pretty crappy writing over 12 hours later. I'll try to return the favor. It reads like a new writer's work, but even decent writers...even good writers produce crap sometimes...sometimes you want to hang yourself it gets so bad.
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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by wainscottbl View Post
    Yes. And the reader may have no idea about aviation. Landing the other way means that planes land one way depending on wind. They fly into the wind as much as possible to avoid the wind getting under the tail and causing them to stall. Been a while since I flew, but that's the idea. So, at a controlled airport, they are required to fly the set runway. At an uncontrolled airfield, they should fly into the wind, but, technically, there is no requirement. You don't even have to announce your position. Of course, in emergencies, you can land one what runway you want. The ceiling is the level of the clouds. But, you are right, a reader may not know that. And it gets repetitive, etc. Thanks for the feedback. It helps. Oh, and my aviation stuff may be a little fuzzy...so any errors, well....but, ah, the good old days, when I wasn't grounded...

    EDIT: And it looks like pretty crappy writing over 12 hours later. I'll try to return the favor. It reads like a new writer's work, but even decent writers...even good writers produce crap sometimes...sometimes you want to hang yourself it gets so bad.
    Personally, I had no idea what either the "ceiling" or "landing the other way" referred to, so was completely lost from pretty well the first sentence. In journalism we have an adage: assume the reader knowns nothing. It's not transferable entirely to creative non-fiction/fiction, but in this case would serve you well to remember.

    From what I've read on this forum so far, Jay Greenstein gives solid advice so I'm not sure I can really add all that much to his thorough post above. I do feel some of the repetition is unnecessary though and the piece should be stripped down. That said, it was also just an exercise, so maybe you got what you needed out of it.

  5. #5
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    It made complete sense to me, who knows?

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