Friday, August 28, 2009

Deep Purple

Deep Purple
Originally uploaded by nerdvin
There are so many lovely words in the English language, aren't there? Quixotic, erudite, tenebrous... All those lovely adverbs and adjectives just waiting to be used by the likes of us. Like shopping in an exquisite candy store, sometimes it's difficult to reign ourselves in. (Besides, unlike the candy store, words are free!)

But we have to. Most times, restraint and not overabundance is what makes a writer good. Consider this:

"Her face had the fragrance of a gibbous moon. The scent of fresh snow. Her eyes were dark birds in fresh snow. They were the birds' shadows, they were mirrors; they were the legends on old charts. They were antique armor and the tears of dragons. Her brows were a raptor's sharp, anxious wings. They were a pair of scythes. Her ears were a puzzle carved in ivory. Her teeth were her only bracelet; she carried them within the red velvet purse of her lips. Her tongue was amber. Her tongue was a ferret, an anemone, a fox caught in the teeth of a tiger."

Now, not every author has a style that I appreciate, but this is WAY over the top (and, yes, this is an actual quote from a book published by a major publishing house. I was first alerted to it by a post on Live-Journal.) The above selection is an extreme example, but sometimes it takes an extreme example to make a point.

This kind of writing should be done as a warm up activity only. Or, it can even be helpful to brainstorm in this way. Frequently, I wil freewrite for ten minutes when I'm confronting a passage of description. But after I put those words on paper, I edit my work. Three paragraphs of writing may be condensed down to a single sentence or two.

Grapes, wine, and pansies can all be purple. But never, ever, let your prose get that way!


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