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Proposed new challenge: The Paragraph Prompt (1 Viewer)

JBF

Staff member
Board Moderator
Spinning off from a thread soon to be buried in the dusty bowels of WF, we see the emergence of a potential new time-waster.

The Paragraph Prompt is simple:

- this is not a competition
- this is a means of determining we all approach a given subject

Participants will be given a set of factors (one setting and one action) and allotted one paragraph to demonstrate their particular style. Having done so, we will then disassemble said paragraph in order to better understand how the pieces work together.

Rather than concern ourselves with overarching plot, character development, or the thousand and one rabbit holes into which we may detour in the course of a normal crit, the idea is to confine the prompt in a narrow space and focus specifically on the mechanical aspects of the thing. This is criticism at the micro level; we're at the races to see how the greyhound runs rather than how fast.

I suspect it may be a few days before this gets off the ground. In the meantime I'll leave the floor open to gauge interest, field questions or prompt suggestions, and throw rotten fruit.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
I didn't realise you'd started a thread so I'll post that starter here too:


Deep in the heather heart of the Eldmoore valley, the village of Darrowdale stretched as the sun splashed atop the surrounding Five Peaks. The weave and droop of thatch and sandstone climbed dreamily from an early morning mist, edges etched in vivid light. It rattled and grumbled with the sound of waking village folk. The smell of sizzling breakfasts, piping hot soup and extra strong coffee carried on a sobering breeze, whilst smoke curled from chimney stacks, bed sheets snapped in back-gardens, hooves clattered on cobblestone, and a cockerel announced another day dawned.
 
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JBF

Staff member
Board Moderator
(moved from the other thread)

You asked. :wink:

Through the five peaks morning came to the vale of the Eldmoore River, the first light of dawn filtering in the ebbing mist and sketching dimly the houses of thatch and standstone that dotted the valley floor where within the residents rose laggard and complaining to the smoke of breakfast cookfires and the song of the cockerel.

I came, I saw...I murdered your punctuation and structure.
 

EternalGreen

Senior Member
The village of Darrowdale lay in the shadows of Eldmoore valley, a net of darkness between five gold peaks. Dew and mist settled over thatch roofs and sandstone roads. It smelled of pork, coccus, and coffee beans. The townsfolk kindled their fireplaces, their chimneys filling the air with smoke of greens. Linens snapped in gardens; horses marched; roosters cried.
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
In the Eldmoore valley Darrowdale stretched itself. Sun splashed the surrounding Peaks, and thatch and sandstone, edged with light, climbed dreamily from an early morning mist. The village rattled with the sound of waking; of sizzling breakfasts. And that smell, with piping hot soup, extra strong coffee, and smoke from chimney stacks, carried on the breeze. Bed sheets snapped in back-gardens, hooves clattered on cobblestones, and the cockerel announced another day dawned.

Give or take a couple of Oxford commas.
 
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SueC

Staff member
Senior Mentor
In the heathered heart of Eldmoore Valley rests the village of Darrowdale, overseen by the majestic Five Peaks. In the early morning light, the smell of sizzling bacon, popping toast, and strongly brewed coffee mingles with the sound of line-hung bedsheets, snapping on the breeze. Waking village folk rise to aromas on the wind; the sound of a rooster confirming another day has dawned.
 

Gumby

Staff member
Co-Owner
The sleepy village of Darrowdale, dozed deep in the heart of Eldmoore valley. Sunlight touched the surrounding peaks, crept down to gently scratch at the thatched roofs of sandstone houses. The early morning breeze carried the smell of baking bread, sizzling breakfast and the snap of freshly washed bed sheets, already hung out to dry. A lone horse clattered through the cobblestone streets pulling the milk cart from house to house and in every yard, roosters loudly announced the beginning of a new day.
 

LCLee

Financial Supporter
In the heart of the Eldmoore valley, the sun bathed the neighboring Five Peaks, exposing the village of Darrowdale. The early morning cloud burned away as it laid silent on the ground. The thatch roofs atop the sandstone cottages, with plumbed edges, brightened in the light of day. Noise of the village folk moving around as they rumbled and grumbled to their daily chores. The crackle of breakfast, boiling stews and strong coffee wafted through the windows, whilst smoke curled from chimneys. Barn doors opened and hooves clattered on cobblestone as a cock crowed announcing a new day.
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
This is a harder challenge than I expected!

Silver morning mist blanketed the sandstone-and-thatch of Darrowdale, hiding the ebbing grip of night. Snug in this heathered heart of Eldmore Valley, sleepers stirred and stretched. Fires were poked to life beneath kettles of soup and pots of coffee, each villager determined to rise to industrious action before their neighbor. High overhead the five peaks ringing the village stropped their teeth against the sun as the first cockerel's clarion call announced the new day.



 
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bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
I really like this paragraph, and was hard put to make any changes. I wanna go to Darrowdale!

Deep in the heather heart of the Eldmoore valley, the village of Darrowdale stretched as the sun splashed atop the surrounding Five Peaks. The weave and droop of thatch and sandstone climbed dreamily from an early morning mist, edges etched in vivid light. It rattled and grumbled with the sound of waking village folk. The smell of sizzling breakfasts, piping hot soup and extra strong coffee carried on a sobering breeze, whilst smoke curled from chimney stacks, bed sheets snapped in back-gardens, hooves clattered on cobblestone, and a cockerel announced another day dawned.

Deep in the heathery heart of the Eldmoore valley nestled the village of Darrowdale, embraced by the paternal slopes of the Five Peaks, whose capped tops shone gold in the new sun. The weave and droop of thatch and sandstone undulated through fragments of an early morning mist, their edges etched in hazy light, emitting rattles and grumbles - the sound of waking village folk - as though some giant beast slumbered there. The aromas of sizzling breakfasts, piping hot soup and extra strong coffee carried on a sobering breeze. Smoke curled from chimney stacks, bed sheets snapped in back-gardens, hooves clattered on cobblestone, and a cockerel announced another dawn.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
My immediate impression so far is there are writers that try to emulate the original mood of the piece and then there are writers that add in extra moods. I wonder if that's a 'respect' thing or a 'confidence' thing? The Foxee paragraph stands out to me in that it adds 'darkness' to the tonality of the paragraph. 'Grip of night', 'stropped their teeth', which is quite odd considering this paragraph is a primer for a ghost story and is never likely to be used. I'd be interested to know, Foxee, whether you decided to add in some darkness or whether you'd picked up some darkness already there.
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
My immediate impression so far is there are writers that try to emulate the original mood of the piece and then there are writers that add in extra moods. I wonder if that's a 'respect' thing or a 'confidence' thing? The Foxee paragraph stands out to me in that it adds 'darkness' to the tonality of the paragraph. 'Grip of night', 'stropped their teeth', which is quite odd considering this paragraph is a primer for a ghost story and is never likely to be used. I'd be interested to know, Foxee, whether you decided to add in some darkness or whether you'd picked up some darkness already there.

For me, it's just a mood-matching thing. I didn't feel the need to change the mood, which I quite liked.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
For me, it's just a mood-matching thing. I didn't feel the need to change the mood, which I quite liked.

What made you add 'paternal'? Is it partly to do with the fact you recognised they were actually called 'Five Peaks'? I also like the fact you've added in some personification. When you wrote that, where would you say you saw yourself as the camera?

I'd say I keep a pretty steady mid range camera, which is a little boring in my opinion, although I do try to bring that camera slowly in during the journey of the paragraph. The idea was a pan and then a zoom but I don't think I pulled it off.

None specific > Specific > intimate.
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
My immediate impression so far is there are writers that try to emulate the original mood of the piece and then there are writers that add in extra moods. I wonder if that's a 'respect' thing or a 'confidence' thing? The Foxee paragraph stands out to me in that it adds 'darkness' to the tonality of the paragraph. 'Grip of night', 'stropped their teeth', which is quite odd considering this paragraph is a primer for a ghost story and is never likely to be used. I'd be interested to know, Foxee, whether you decided to add in some darkness or whether you'd picked up some darkness already there.
I remembered from the other thread that you had mentioned the ghost story angle so I wanted to try to find the darkness in scene.

This is an interesting challenge because I don't usually think about what my style is, more what I'm aiming for in the story.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
I remembered from the other thread that you had mentioned the ghost story angle so I wanted to try to find the darkness in scene.

This is an interesting challenge because I don't usually think about what my style is, more what I'm aiming for in the story.

Oh, I see. I noticed that even though you've clearly stepped back from the picture often, there's a gentle intimacy about the way you dealt with it. This line for instance:

Fires were poked to life beneath kettles of soup and pots of coffee, each villager determined to rise to industrious action before their neighbor.

I'm seeing a villager with a stick in their hand, poking embers alive and you've imbued them with a sense of rivalry. That's something well worth noting in my opinion.
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
What made you add 'paternal'? Is it partly to do with the fact you recognised they were actually called 'Five Peaks'? I also like the fact you've added in some personification. When you wrote that, where would you say you saw yourself as the camera?

I'd say I keep a pretty steady mid range camera, which is a little boring in my opinion, although I do try to bring that camera slowly in during the journey of the paragraph. The idea was a pan and then a zoom but I don't think I pulled it off.

None specific > Specific > intimate.

Yeah I suppose I did want to personify the hills, to give them an embracing sense to them, and put forward a benign scene. And yes I definitely saw myself as the camera - I could see the scene quite clearly.

In terms of zoom, I can see you started it, which works, though you might typically finish on a single character of interest.
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
I'm seeing a villager with a stick in their hand, poking embers alive and you've imbued them with a sense of rivalry. That's something well worth noting in my opinion.
The funny thing is that even though we're talking about Darrowdale it reminds me of people I know and places I've lived. People close to the land or who work with their hands often seem to me like they're making a point of being up and busy first. If you're first on certain jobs you have a kind of moral superiority and often some status that allows you to boss the latecomers around!

ETA: In terms of the camera being close or far I essentially tried to cover a lot of the same main points that were in your paragraph so in terms of whether the camera was close to or farther from the subjects isn't changed much from the original paragraph. Mainly what I think I've changed is the angle of the camera...Look at the mist, no look under the mist. Look at the villagers, this is what they want. Look up at the mountains, they're sharp in contrast to this bucolic scene.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Yeah I suppose I did want to personify the hills, to give them an embracing sense to them, and put forward a benign scene. And yes I definitely saw myself as the camera - I could see the scene quite clearly.

In terms of zoom, I can see you started it, which works, though you might typically finish on a single character of interest.

The cockerel was meant to be the final focal point, bringing the whole 'waking' theme to a conclusion. But it lacked enough intimacy mid range I think. I'm beginning to wonder if that mid camera is of any use whatsoever. It's likely what's responsible for many unnecessarily complex descriptions that remove the reader from the immediacy because of how long they have to read it. If you're Tolkein, then maybe, but from listening to many audiobooks lately, the broad stokes (ranged camera) coupled with the zoom (the occasional intimate detail) creates a dynamic scene more often than not. Although, having said that, too much and it could become jarring, so perhaps the mid range camera should be used specifically to slow things down and give the reader time to breath.

edit: although thinking more about this, that could also be the function of the zoomed in camera.
 
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