Friday, 4 April 2014

A-Z Challenge: Day 4

(* Note: forgive the late posting, but for some unknown reason I could not access Blogger? *)

D is for Description noun 
1. a spoken or written account of a person, object, or event.
2. a type or class of people or things.

My sister has a dread of enclosed spaces, especially lifts. Previously I could not comprehend why, and much to my shame, would tease her about it. Now I understand. The experience on the floor below has me unnerved to the point that I'm reluctant to stop the lift at all, but you and I know that can't happen.

My gaze returns to the mummified rat; at first I was puzzled as to what a rat would be doing inside a lift, and I can't help but think, was it trying to escape from something and found dying in here more preferable? What am I thinking? I must be going mad! Next floor I need to find a way out, or better still, a phone. Maybe the building has security I could contact?

Here we go. The lift is slowing down. Prepare yourselves...


Descriptions are beautiful, even when they are terrifying--terrifyingly beautiful. For my part, as an apprentice/fledgling writer, description is what I love most. I have to be brutally honest though, it is a selfish act on my behalf, as when I write I am taking myself on a journey, exploring with my mind's eye, eaves-dropping on conversations, experiencing the emotions and traversing the landscapes like some omnipotent creator basking in their handiwork.

I have had friends read through work I have done and I have noticed something interesting; they either love description or would rather have less of it. For those who love description, they say it helps them view the entire 'picture', and prefer to have it painted for them, leaving out none of the detail. This I can appreciate.

On the other side of the page, a friend expressed how they preferred not to be 'spoon fed' with descriptions, and rather have blank areas which they could use their own imagination to fill in. Again, a point of view I can also agree with.

Sometimes less is more. Something I am learning about from reading through works done by my writing peers--one especially good at this is Deborah Walker. She has a great command of economy without losing the essential spirit of the piece. Deborah is a writer to whose technical standard I wish to emulate. If you haven't read any of her work, I urge you to pop along and have a read, it'll be worth it--as it has a tendency to tighten up the story without losing anything of the plot or pace of the piece and still keeps hold of the reader's attention.

I really enjoy Stephen King's method of introducing his characters as the story progresses, but you also realise that he's working to a formula that he has perfected over his writing career, as is the way with many other successful and prolific writers. His character descriptions are never full-on, but enough to keep you wanting to learn more. Drip feeding in essence, or a three bears approach. Sounds easy, but like with all great writing tools, it requires constant practice and perfecting in order to master it fully.

Then there are the scene settings. Once more this can be handled very subtly, or in a viscous fashion, in which you drop your reader into the very muck and filth of a scene in order to ensure your reader is encapsulated, experiencing the vile stench of carrion corpses or the humidity of a tropical jungle. This is where I tend to indulge within my writing, and I know full well where it stems from: my days running a regular Sunday evening role playing group. As the DM / GM ( Dungeon Master / Games Master ) I took it upon myself to create as vivid a world as possible for my players, and I loved describing the landscapes, the outposts, hamlets, villages, towns and cities, don't forget the underground aspect, such as caves, caverns, crypts and dungeons. As a learning platform it was a fantastic foundation for developing my writing and imagination, plus it was a great feeling to watch my players lose themselves within the world I created for them.

A book I am reading currently is Jules Verne's, ' 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ' - a classic piece of unintentional steampunk, but what I find hard to cope with is some of the detail to which Verne describes the undersea fauna and flora. But it is also a great way of comparing how economical modern descriptive writing has evolved. Saying that, the story is still a wonderful piece of period writing that I have yet to finish.


There's a slight pause before the lift doors open, pause enough to make me question the sanity of what I'm doing. Too late. The doors glide open without strain or stutter or sound. No turning back.

Before me is a dimly lit corridor, it must stretch for at least 100 feet, but it is hard to gauge, the very far end being shrouded in gloom. The suffusion of light filtering down from sparse emergency lighting spread along the corridor's length. One thing I can make out are the outlines of doors staggered either side of the poorly lit corridor. 

Letter opener in hand, muscles tense and senses alert for any danger, I step out from the lift. Cautiously moving towards the first soft pool of light, I hear a faint sound behind me. Spinning about I see the lift doors closing, then the down arrow illuminating. The lift has been called. 

Panic kicks in. Adrenalin floods my system to such an extent it threatens to buckle my knees and make me vomit. Mouth suddenly dry I'm driven into action. All thought of caution is now disregarded. Escape, I need to escape. I start trying door handles, alternately casting glances at the lift doors and the darkness at the far end of the corridor. I zig-zag down and across, rattling one locked door handle after the other. I then freeze.
The lift is now coming back up and I'm running out of doors and getting closer to the darkened section of corridor.

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