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Describing a Scene (1 Viewer)

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Mark Twain't

Staff member
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Struggling with this section. It's the introduction to the MC and not sure if it works. If I'm honest, it feels a little clunky to me. Would be interested to know your opinions.



Autumn leaves perform a sombre ballet in the breeze amongst the headstones as grey clouds gather in the sky. A giant oak tree, hundreds of years old, stands on the edge of the cemetery, its branches spread out to form an umbrella, a makeshift shield for the field of headstones. White, black and grey monoliths inscribed in black, white and gold to pay tribute to the dearly departed.

The digger’s engine chugs as it claws at the mound of earth beside the hole in which an encased human being now lays at rest, hungrily scooping bucketfuls into the air before depositing it into the waiting abyss.

Holly watches the scene unfold from just twenty yards away, perched on a bench which has been dedicated to the memory of some poor soul who’ll never get to feel what it’s like to rest their backsides on it or even just read the attached memorial plaque.

One hour has passed since they’d lowered her mum’s coffin and everyone departed in order to have their fill of booze and nibbles as they pay tribute to a woman they had little time for when she was alive. Holly clutches at the Order of Service, a photo of mum that was taken on a family holiday a few years ago adorns the cover, memories of a happier time, a time before illness had slowly, but surely taken her away.
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
Since they are at a graveyard, I assume mention that. It sets the tone. Word choices can be important. I would say that close to the first paragraph if not the first. It also prepares us for what is to follow.

The digger could be substituted or swapped with gravedigger. Again, more emotion for you in what is a potentially powerful scene.

Autumn leaves perform a sombre ballet in the breeze amongst the headstones as grey clouds gather in the sky. A giant oak tree, hundreds of years old, stands on the edge of the cemetery, its branches spread out to form an umbrella, a makeshift shield for the field of headstones. White, black and grey monoliths inscribed in black, white and gold to pay tribute to the dearly departed.

The digger’s engine chugs as it claws at the mound of earth beside the hole in which an encased human being now lays at rest, hungrily scooping bucketfuls into the air before depositing it into the waiting abyss.

Holly watches the scene unfold from just twenty yards away, perched on a bench which has been dedicated to the memory of some poor soul who’ll never get to feel what it’s like to rest their backsides on it or even just read the attached memorial plaque
In the third paragraph are you referring to the mother or the gravedigger? In the paragraph it begs the question did she die young which would be even more tragic and profound and pain is the source of entertainment of stories.

One hour has passed since they’d lowered her mum’s coffin and everyone departed in order to have their fill of booze and nibbles as they pay tribute to a woman they had little time for when she was alive. Holly clutches at the Order of Service, a photo of mum that was taken on a family holiday a few years ago adorns the cover, memories of a happier time, a time before illness had slowly, but surely taken her away.
What is order of service and what does it mean? Is that her service to put the photograph and keep it there for visitors?

Good job in portraying the emotion. It just needs some small touches.
 

Mark Twain't

Staff member
Board Moderator
Since they are at a graveyard, I assume mention that. It sets the tone. Word choices can be important. I would say that close to the first paragraph if not the first. It also prepares us for what is to follow.
Would the headstones not give that away
The digger could be substituted or swapped with gravedigger. Again, more emotion for you in what is a potentially powerful scene.
Gravedigger usually refers to a person rather than a machine but I take your point.
In the third paragraph are you referring to the mother or the gravedigger? In the paragraph it begs the question did she die young which would be even more tragic and profound and pain is the source of entertainment of stories.
Hmm, so it's not obvious that the deceased is Holly's mum? Ok, I'll work on that.
What is order of service and what does it mean? Is that her service to put the photograph and keep it there for visitors?
Order of Service is the printed booklet which is handed to the mourners at a funeral. It contains the hymns to be sung during the service and usually has a photograph of the deceased. I'm guessing it's called something else outside of the UK?
Good job in portraying the emotion. It just needs some small touches.
Thank you, you've given me something to think about.
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
Would the headstones not give that away
I figure it emotionally resonates with readers more so because they sense someone has died and passed away. When it is someone very close to you it is always worse. Even though you refer to headstones I figure it would be a worthy inclusion. We have all experienced someone depart from this world or in some point in our lives. That could help us feel what is happening is not good and sad.

As I read this another question you can ask yourself when plotting is: is there more than one cause of death? Illness creates other opportunities or possible causes of death. When someone dies it could have been for another reason. Maybe ask yourself this if you decide to plot by creating questions in the reader's mind of what already happened in the scene. It could lead the protagonist on a quest to find the truth.

I didn't know what order of service was. But you explained it well. I've lived in the United States for a couple of years but never in the Uk. Again, good luck in writing it. It's turning out well in my opinion. I think I won't give a fuller response to the other concerns since you are thinking about it currently as more responses are posted and this is a work in progress.

Trust me on this when I say death is a great catalyst of emotion. I once saw how someone wrote a short story on a grandmother's death moved me emotionally and others when she read her story some years ago while I was in high school (many years ago to be exact).
 
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Mark Twain't

Staff member
Board Moderator
Thanks again. The mother's death is when the MC is at her lowest ebb and is what indirectly leads to a major change in her life.

I could have pasted the next part of the scene which would explain things a little more but I wanted to concentrate on the scene descriptions as that is where I feel I struggle the most when writing.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
It's beautifully written. But the opening paragraph reads a little weaker to me than the rest of the piece. It's a nice description, but there is no action in it accept the two personifications. The second paragraph is better, but then another personification. And for me, it gets very strong in the third and fourth paragraph.

This may be intended, but it feels like you are holding back the story and building up to it, and BAM it gets really interesting. If that is what you are going for, then you nailed it!
 

Mark Twain't

Staff member
Board Moderator
If the question is "Is it clunky?" ... not to me. I thought it was nicely written. My only disconnect was a resident of Merry Ol' eschewing the Oxford Comma. ;-)
Thank you. That extra comma grates on me, no idea why lol
It's beautifully written. But the opening paragraph reads a little weaker to me than the rest of the piece. It's a nice description, but there is no action in it accept the two personifications. The second paragraph is better, but then another personification. And for me, it gets very strong in the third and fourth paragraph.
That's very kind, thank you.
This may be intended, but it feels like you are holding back the story and building up to it, and BAM it gets really interesting. If that is what you are going for, then you nailed it!
Yes, everything is building towards quite a bang! ;)
 

Tettsuo

WF Veterans
Autumn leaves perform a sombre ballet in the breeze amongst the headstones as grey clouds gather in the sky. A giant oak tree, hundreds of years old, stands on the edge of the cemetery, its branches spread out to form an umbrella, a makeshift shield for the field of headstones. White, black and grey monoliths inscribed in black, white and gold to pay tribute to the dearly departed.
There's nothing technically wrong with any of this. For me, it's the pacing. Because you've added multiple descriptions in each sentence, it feels more rushed than it needs to be.

Let's take the first sentence - Autumn leaves perform a sombre ballet in the breeze. The reds, yellows and browns that paint them, danced amongst the headstones. Above, grey clouds gathered, darkening the colorful leaves performance. At the edge of the cemetery, the creator of the performers, a hundred year old giant oak tree stretched it's branches out, shielding the field of gray headstones. The white, black and gray monoliths were inscribed in black, white and gold lettering, words paying tribute to the dearly departed.
 

Mark Twain't

Staff member
Board Moderator
There's nothing technically wrong with any of this. For me, it's the pacing. Because you've added multiple descriptions in each sentence, it feels more rushed than it needs to be.

Let's take the first sentence - Autumn leaves perform a sombre ballet in the breeze. The reds, yellows and browns that paint them, danced amongst the headstones. Above, grey clouds gathered, darkening the colorful leaves performance. At the edge of the cemetery, the creator of the performers, a hundred year old giant oak tree stretched it's branches out, shielding the field of gray headstones. The white, black and gray monoliths were inscribed in black, white and gold lettering, words paying tribute to the dearly departed.
Thanks. Yes, that appears to be a weakness of mine, something I'm trying to work on.
 

KeganThompson

Senior Member
There's nothing technically wrong with any of this. For me, it's the pacing. Because you've added multiple descriptions in each sentence, it feels more rushed than it needs to be.

Let's take the first sentence - Autumn leaves perform a sombre ballet in the breeze. The reds, yellows and browns that paint them, danced amongst the headstones. Above, grey clouds gathered, darkening the colorful leaves performance. At the edge of the cemetery, the creator of the performers, a hundred year old giant oak tree stretched it's branches out, shielding the field of gray headstones. The white, black and gray monoliths were inscribed in black, white and gold lettering, words paying tribute to the dearly departed.
yeah I agree. There needs to be more periods instead of commas. I think that will really help break it up and not feel so long winded. Give the reader a pause so they can take in a previous description before going to another.
I like the mood and the descriptions. Nicely written @Mark Twain't :)
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
I disagree that any rewriting or repunctuation is needed. If anything, maybe an em-dash between cover and memories. Yes, some of the sentences are on the long side, but they are not run on, they flow well, and they achieve clarity. The order of thoughts made sense to me, building from the leaves to the inscriptions.

I haven't always done this (the object of 'this' about to follow) because people ask for critique, you find things to critique, right? It's normal and expected.

So what's the 'this'? Recently I try to first read with ONLY a reader's eye, not an author's eye or a critique eye. Why? Because I can take most paragraphs out of any work of any well-regarded author and critique it topsy-turvy. There's no point in it. Unless technical issues are popping me out of the prose, I'm now not offering critique ... maybe a suggestion here or there ... but I'm not going to edit anything but an obvious issue.

I simply don't see any issues of that nature in the submitted prose. It reads as well as any published draft, so I say 'Well done' and that's that. My note about the Oxford Comma was a joke. :)
 
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