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The Mastah, muahahaaaa....

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Don't look behind you!!!!!

« on: September 11, 2007, 06:58:13 PM »

I was reading my current read today, The Taking by Dean Koontz, and it struck me that the language was getting a bit flowery. The writing was still good and I don't have a problem with it, like I sometimes do with flowery description, but that's because it's relevant to the characters and thus the story. The talk of cataracts was a little bit out there and slightly irritating to me, but prior to the excerpt below there had been torrential rain, and the rain was thick and milky, a little like semen, so I can see some relevance in the description. The 'calligraphy of trees' is also arguably relevant, because the point of view character is an author. Dean Koontz's writing style contains a bit of flowery language - he plays with the words and does it with the practised ease and flow of a professional. Very skillful.

Reading this book made me examine my own writing and question how much I need to raise my game to stand any chance of competing. When I read some of the greats like Bradbury, Steinbeck, and one of my personal favourites, Lansdale - not the hint of a flowery turn of phrase - just good solid, strong use of language. Nothing fancy, but what they write and how they use the words absolutely nails the description, sets the scene, forms the characters, advances the story.

These are a few of the excerpts I looked at. I thought other people might find them interesting, too.

Excerpt from The Taking, by Dean Koontz --

Spent cataracts of water drained off streets and out of gutters. New cataracts, of the blinding type, frustrated the eye and deceived the mind.

The town had nearly vanished in fog. Thick curdled masses of mist slid down from the higher ridges in a soft avalanche and also rose off the swollen lake below.

For a moment, Molly held her breath for fear these clouds would prove poisonous. But then she breathed, and lived.

Along the street, houses and other structures formed a geometry more suggested than seen. The calligraphy of trees, deciduous and evergreen, full of cursives and flourishes, was continuously erased only to be half revealed again by the lazily rolling mist.

To Molly, the sudden silence, following the long roar of the rain, had all the drama of a roof-rattling thunderclap. Stepping out of the tavern with Virgil, closely followed by Neil, she seemed to have gone deaf, a perception abetted by the muffling effect of the dense fog.

More than the cessation of the rain, more than the murk or the silence, the arrival of dawn surprised her. A glance at her watch – which functioned when out from under the oppressive influence of the mysterious leviathan – confirmed that daybreak should have arrived.


The opening of Breakfast by John Steinbeck --

This thing fills me with pleasure. I don't know why, I can see it in the smallest detail. I find myself recalling it again and again, each time bringing more detail out of sunken memory, remembering brings the curious warm pleasure.

It was very early in the morning. The eastern mountains were black-blue, but behind them the light stood up faintly colored at the mountain rims with a washed red, growing colder, greyer and darker as it went up and overhead until, at a place near the west, it merged with pure night.

And it was cold, not painfully so, but cold enough so that I rubbed my hands and shoved them deep into my pockets, and I hunched my shoulders up and scuffled my feet on the ground. Down in the valley where I was, the earth was that lavender grey of dawn. I walked along a country road and ahead of me I saw a tent that was only a little lighter grey than the ground. Beside the tent there was a flash of orange fire seeping out of the cracks of an old rusty iron stove. Grey smoke spurted up out of the stubby stovepipe, spurted up a long way before it spread out and dissipated.

I saw a young woman beside the stove, really a girl. She was dressed in a faded cotton skirt and waist. As I came close I saw that she carried a baby in a crooked arm and the baby was nursing, its head under her waist out of the cold. The mother moved about, poking the fire, shifting the rusty lids of the stove to make a greater draft, opening the oven door; and all the time the baby was nursing, but that didn't interfere with the mother's work, nor with the light quick gracefulness of her movements. There was something very precise and practiced in her movements. The orange fire flicked out of the cracks in the stove and threw dancing reflections on the tent.


Excerpt from Night They Missed the Horror Show by Joe Lansdale

Leonard wished he could be Steve McQueen, or Paul Newman even. Someone like that always knew what to say, and he figured they got plenty of bush too. Certainly they didn’t get as bored as he did. He was so bored he felt as if he were going to die from it before the night was out. Bored, bored, bored. Just wasn’t nothing exciting about being in the Dairy Queen parking lot leaning on the front of his ‘64 Impala looking out at the highway. He figured maybe old crazy Harry who janitored at the high school might be right about them flying saucers. Harry was always seeing something. Bigfoot, six-legged weasels, all manner of things. But maybe he was right about the saucers. He’d said he’d seen one a couple nights back hovering over Mud Creek and it was shooting down these rays that looked like wet peppermint sticks. Leonard figured if Harry really had seen the saucers and the rays, then those rays were boredom rays. It would be a way for space critters to get at earth folks, boring them to death. Getting melted down by heat rays would have been better. That was at least quick, but being bored to death was sort of like being nibbled to death by ducks.

Leonard continued looking at the highway, trying to imagine flying saucers and boredom rays, but he couldn’t keep his mind on it. He finally focused on something in the highway. A dead dog.


Opening of Last Rites by Ray Bradbury

Harrison Cooper was not that old, only thirty-nine, touching at the warm rim of forty rather than the cold rim of thirty, which makes a great difference in temperature and attitude. He was a genius verging on the brilliant, unmarried, unengaged, with no children that he could honestly claim, so having nothing much else to do, woke one morning in the summer of 1999, weeping.
Out of bed, he faced his mirror to watch the tears, examine his sadness, trace the woe. Like a child, curious after emotion, he charted his own map, found no capital city of despair, but only a vast and empty expanse of sorrow, and went to shave.
Which didn't help, for Harrison Cooper had stumbled on some secret supply of melancholy that, even as he shaved, spilled in rivulets down his soaped cheeks.
"Great God," he cried. "I'm at a funeral, but who's dead?!"
He ate his breakfast toast somewhat soggier than usual and plunged off to his laboratory to see if gazing at his Time Traveler would solve the mystery of eyes that shed rain while the rest of him stood fair.
Time Traveler? All, yes.
For Harrison Cooper had spent the better part of his third decade wiring circuitries of impossible pasts and as yet untouchable futures. Most men philosophize in their as-beautiful-as-women cars. Harrison Cooper chose to dream and knock together from pure air and electric thunderclaps what he called his Mobius Machine.
He had told his friends, with wine-colored nonchalance, that he was taking a future strip and a past strip, giving them a now half twist, so they looped on a single plane. Like those figure-eight ribbons, cut and pasted by that dear mathematician A. F. Mobius in the nineteenth century.
"Ah, yes, Mobius," friends murmured.
What they really meant was, "Ah, no. Good night."


Anybody like to discuss the language used here? smiley

Planning is an unnatural process - it is much more fun to do something.  The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression. [Sir John Harvey-Jones]
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