Monday, March 30, 2009

Custard moons, Fairy-work frost and other great descriptions

Sometimes I come across a description or a phrase that I adore and then I have to write it down. Actually, if you must know the truth, I get downright giddy when I come across a perfect description. I came across a gem of a description in WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED by Judy Blundell:

Chapter 15
"A fat custard moon was splat in the purple sky . . . "

There are so many reasons why I love this description:

1) is that this is the most creative way I may have ever seen the moon described.

2) it fits the voice of the character who is 15 years old. Perhaps if the protagonist was an old man, the moon would have looked more like an alkaseltzer tab that just fell into the cup or something like that.

3) it gives a great visual w/o using too many adjectives. From this small amount of words I'm imagining a full moon on a hazy night. The sides of the moon aren't crips and distinct, but more soft and rounded. And it's late sunset. all that from 10 words.

This reminds me of a phrase used by Mark Twain where he describes a frost as "Fairy-work frost" What a concise and creative way to describe a sparkling, intricate design on a window pane.

~giggle~ excuse me. I'm just getting all giddy talking about it. I LOVE this stuff!

4) It sets the scene for what's about to happen. The soft dreaminess of the scene reflects the converstation that's about to take place.

5) this type of description challenges me to look at the world in a different way. Last night as I tried to fall sleep, I didn't count sheep. Instead, I thought of creative ways to describe common objects in a similar fashion to Blundell's moon description. You should try it too. It's harder than you may think. Blundell and Twain make it seem easy.

Go ahead. Do it. Pick an everyday object. A tree. The street. A building. The sun. How can you describe it using the pattern used by Blundell and Twain.

Here's a couple that I came up with:

"The ragdoll willow flopped in the storm."
"Pixie-winged blossoms rode on the breeze."

What things do you get excited about when you read?


Angela said...

I do this too. I find that Katherine Langrish is very good at describing imagery as well and I often love her phrasing.

C.R. Evers said...

ohhh! I don't think I've read anything by her. I'll have to check something of hers out! Thnx for the tip!

Anonymous said...

I love discovering wonderful, unique descriptions, too, and often jot them in my reading journal to savour again in the future.

I love your "ragdoll willow"! :)

PJ Hoover said...

I love the fat, custard moon! It is perfect!

I always loved Cherry Ice-cream smile from Duran Duran.

Shelli said...

awesome tip :)

adrienne said...

I like characters that have a funny or quirky way of saying things. I remember a line where someone described quenching his thirst as feeling "as refreshed as a potted plant." Somehow that cracked me up.

Great idea for an exercise.

Kelly H-Y said...

What a fabulous writing exercise ... to come up with creative descriptions! Love it!

Angela said...

I think THE BOOK THIEF has amazing descriptions!

D.A. Riser said...

Great imagery, Christy. I've been trying to read poetry to brush up on my way of seeing things.

Fat custard moons -- I think I'll say that to whoever I'm with next time we see a harvest moon. I will, of course, report back on the unsuspecting person's reaction.

sruble said...

Fun descriptions! I love reading that unexpected turn of phrase or bit of dialog in a novel, too. I also love just getting lost in a novel and not even noticing the language because I'm so wrapped up in the story.

Bish Denham said...

I'm definitely a description addict. I like the little exercise and may well add to another one I do: playing around with abstactions:

Dressed in the Emperor's New Clothes, Ignorance sits on a stool in the classroom and teaches people not to think.

Jacqui said...

I like the custard moon and Bish's line about Ignorance.

I love this kind of word play.

Rena said...

Great post, Christy. I've been sitting here watching it snow all day while I have sick kids on the couch. Maybe I'll come up with some words to describe both -- :)

C.R. Evers said...

I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who gets excited. :0)

I loved the other examples you guys shared.

And DA, you need to let me know how that phrase pans out in real life.