Rambling goodness at its best

*insert incredibly long, painfully guttural scream of impotent rage here!*

Yep… that is how I feel right now.

Guess what we studied last week in class?!

Can ya guess?

Can ya?

Can ya?

Can ya?!

Descriptive writing…

This was me! source: http://flic.kr/p/3JEtG9

This was me!
source: http://flic.kr/p/3JEtG9

Here I was thinking ‘this is my night. My class to shock and amaze the class with all my fantastic imagery’.

You see, I’ve been told that I write good imagery into my stories. I think they are pretty good (I mean, I did write them), but again, I have come away from the class feeling rather battered and bruised, not to mention more than a little stressed!

My previous post on Writing to Explore included the first piece of assessment for my creative writing class. This class, we were to take this piece and to apply what we learnt this week to it before submitting for assessment. I was quietly confident, thinking I’d be able to provide examples of great imagery to the class, elicit oohs and aaahhs with my creative visions.

For those of you who have read A world of fragile things in the above mentioned post, you’ll have seen it in what I am now calling its ‘poetic phase’. Personally it’s how I like to write, it comes naturally and it sits well with me. The imagery is strong and clear in my mind’s eye. That version got some great feedback from fellow authors, fellow readers, and an ex-English teacher among others. I was excited imagining the High Distinction I’d see grace my grade report.

Enter the dreaded red pen coupled with a strong dislike for adjectives and adverbs.

I made a fatal mistake, I circled every adverb and adjective in the original piece of writing… it was a veritable minefield!

I understand the concepts, I agree with a lot of the examples provided, but I truly believe that my writing is not as powerful with the limited describers. Perhaps this is a failing in my writing skills, or a lack of experience, but I don’t like this new version of my story anywhere near as much. It doesn’t feel right. This new version is 57 words shorter, but I feel that it’s too direct and short.  Let me know what you think.

A world of fragile things – Take 2

The tick of the clock sounds like a gong in my ears. I straighten my livid skirt; the wool scrapes against my palms. I can feel the weight of the material, resting against the bare expanse of my thighs, it presses, urgently against me. Perspiration seeps through the sticky silk of my blouse; the sweetly pungent scent invades my nostrils.

The jet-black of my patent leather shoes glints in the limp light of the room. I see a cloaked shape grow into existence in the oily reflection and glance up, underneath the fan of lashes, noticing the clumps of mascara clinging between them. The shape is not in front of me. The room is empty.

I raise my eyes to the lazy fan spinning as it hangs from the roof; it pushes the cloying air around the room with wide blades – cutting through the still, present silence. The shadows deepen as the sunlight attempts to shine through the grimy window, the lank brown curtains drip down its side like drops of dried blood.

My eyes catch on a movement in the mirror across the room. The fan blades cut into my vision, I force my eyes closed, I wipe at them with my hands, feeling wetness come away on my skin. My heart beats slowly, the suffocating silence eating into my soul.

I open my eyes again and look into the mirror. A bruised purple bed is visible, a once young woman, turned old, sits upon the cover. Her almost black skirt and inky shoes are stark against the paleness of her skin and the endless depths of her molten eyes engulf me.  I fall into them and swim around in the desolate place there.

Rapping breaks into my thoughts and I tear my gaze from the mirror to the widening maw of the door frame. Sooty tendrils of a cloak creep into the room, lit from behind by a crimson glow. The hand enveloped in the cloak is weathered bone. My heart skips a beat. I scrunch my eyes closed and shake my head.


“Are you ready?” the softened voice limps across the room, shattering the silence and startles me from my private panic.

Opening my eyes I notice the cloak and weathered hand is instead, smooth skin wrapped in the navy sleeve of a dress suit. Dark tresses of curly hair frame an ashen face that is the resting place of a pair of deep, questioning green eyes. The backdrop of garnet, changes to a dappled sunlight as the door shifts open and the cell I am in welcomes the warmth.

As he steps across the threshold, I turn away, looking again into the mirror and the haunting eyes of the aged woman sitting upon the bed. Silently, like the room was before, the salty residue of grief splashes down her face. The raw emotion on display streaks her cheeks and leaves angry red trails in its wake. The room engulfs her, the darkness waging war upon the sunlight.

Dust motes stir as he shuffles across the room and passes in front of the mirror. He crouches in front of me, blocking my view of the woman on the bed. I try to avert my eyes, not wanting to explore the depths of his familiar green ones. His hands rest upon my knees and the gentle swirl of his thumb across my skin draws me back to him. No. I shake my head.

“The car is waiting for us,” he murmurs, his touch brings momentary heat to my frosty skin.

I nod, feeling empty and void of warmth. I notice then, the wetness splash against the fabric of my skirt and disappear into it: the short-lived life of a tear no match for that of a human.

He stands, his hand taking mine to lead me across the darkened space I call a bedroom. Rising from the bed, I notice the old woman in the mirror stand too, her mask of sorrow and grief vivid against the shadowed room. Her haunting, molten eyes plead with me to understand, beg me to see what I am looking at in the mirror.

Her step echoes mine, her silk of her blouse balloons behind as she walks too, the soft click of our shoes match as I am led from the enveloping darkness and into the light of the hallway. I follow him from the room, leaving behind the aged lady, feeling the sunlight of the hallway filter to my heart and I shed more tears. I long for the familiar darkness of my room and the woman in the mirror.

“We will follow behind the hearse to the cemetery. Everything will run smoothly,” he promises, the jarring creak of the floorboards beneath his feet mirroring the break in my heart.

I pull against his hand, turning to look back at the door to my safe haven, the darkness calling to me, urging me to enter its fold again.

“We have to say goodbye,” his voice breaks. “It’s time to lay him to rest, Mum.”

I pull again on his hand and refuse to look into the same green eyes that his father possessed. Silent tears scorch my face and blaze moist trails down my blouse. I close my eyes and turn to my son. His warm arms wrap around me and my head rests upon his shoulder. I break the silence.

“I can’t say goodbye to him,” I sob. “I just can’t believe he left me alone.”

The End

Have you experienced something like this before where you think you’ll do really well, just to find you come out of it feeling bruised and battered? Share your experiences or your thoughts on the new version below.

4 thoughts on “Rambling goodness at its best

  1. I really like the sentence “the buzz of the air conditioning whines into the suffocating silence” and thought that have stayed in there.
    I also liked “A soft rapping on the shadowy door to the room” – Do’h! Why did that have to come out? The same with “menacing red glow” and “bare knees”.
    I say this because I love more description (that’s how I write).

    I was once told to take out a lot of the description in my writing by a publisher (but I didn’t – and I didn’t go with that publisher either). The review I just received for Wolf Pear is an interesting one because the reviewer states “Too rare in this book are Ms Gray’s excellent descriptions of nature seen to best effect in Let Sleeping Gods Lie.” I was momentarily taken back by this comment because it was Let Sleeping Gods Lie that was slammed by the publisher for being ‘too descriptive’ – yet I now find that this is what readers love!

    You just keep writing how you want to write 😀

    • I agree with you Dianne, but since I am being marked on it, I felt I had best try to do what she wanted. I will see what I get back in a few weeks.

      I think if I was trying to sell/publish my work I would definitely keep to the more poetic, it feels more me.

      Interesting that you too got asked to take out a bunch of adverbs and adjectives. I enjoy your style of writing. 🙂

  2. I liked the flowing pace of the first re-write more than this, at least at the start. It feels terse and tight with all the short sentences at the beginning. I don’t think fast pacing was what you were after, and not everything has to be snappy. I’d have argued against the cutting of the adjectives; it was more poetic with them.

    In the end, the story is the boss, and if you’re happy with the version you wrote, even if people dislike it, you know you did the best you could.

    • Agreed! I submitted the new version to my teacher, because that was what she asked for, and even then I don’t think I went far enough with the cutting of adjectives and adverbs.

      I then, however, put the second (poetic version) in my portfolio for the SOYA awards competition as it felt better to me 🙂

      Thanks for your thoughts on every version you’ve seen Tony 🙂

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