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"A mass of," "a flash of" etc. (1 Viewer)

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Senior Member
I make this mistake pretty often. Every object in your story has mass. Almost everything in your story is a mass of something. I'm not sure why we lousy writers insist on calling everything a mass.

The second one is "a flash." If someone shines a light in your face, that's a flash of yellow or white. If someone swings a knife, it is not a "flash of grey." (I cannot think of any personal examples, but I do this sometimes.)

Oh, "a blur" is another one. I've done it plenty of times and find it hard to stop. A blur of this, a blur of that, a blur of bad visuals.


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As a wannabe unreformed metonymy enthusiast, amateur synecdoche practitioner and all-round collective noun dweeb, I try to come up with new forms of presenting something; a dervish of snow, a dagger of light, something that depicts not just the thing (light, snow) but its perception, behaviour and emotional impact on the character (ethereal whirling snow=mystery; stabby lightning=nervousness). I try not to use the same one twice, though I don't mind overmuch if it has been moderately used elsewhere or in general speech, like dervish. The word should capture only the impact I want; so while I could say a "curtain of light", that should only be used if the light is in any way curtainlike (wafty, drapes) rather than jabby boom-boom thunderstrikes. If "mass" conveys the sense of it, then fine, but it has to justify its existence by the object being precisely mass-like in some way. I could have said the snow was a blur of movement, but that's too well-used, as you say. I even have doubts about dervish. Maybe a "spinner of snow"; I think I might have used "spindrift" somewhere.

This potentially ties into Az's metaphor quota post.


Senior Member
It's helpful when we realize we have these little quirks. Then we can catch them and fix them as they happen, rather than having to rewrite later. Maybe even train ourselves to not do these things. :)


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I don't have issues with "flashes" and "masses", but since I have been using Grammarly, it has come to my attention that I use two words all the time. "Own" and "really."

I'm not really sure why, but I recognize that these are my own foibles. :)
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