RANDOM NVDT – Writerly Concerns #17 – What’s My Line?

Which one is better?

From Octopus!

1- She made a defiant face, brought her leg down after what seemed like an eternity to Jackson, dropped in the wooden chair behind her and folded over, shoulders to knees like a dying ballet rag doll.

2 – She made a defiant face, brought her leg down after what felt like an eternity to Jackson, dropped in the wooden chair behind her and folded over, shoulders to knees. A ballet rag doll in the throes of death.

I don’t know. I do know “seemed” is not a fave, except used by a character in dialogue because things are or they aren’t. Or the passive -ing, but there are situations when it’s unavoidable. Nor do I care a great deal for simile/metaphor (“like something”). I know for a fact which one hits harder, and which one is typical middle-of-the-road writing. Is there a time when the characters and the scene require softer language than the fist-in-the-face? Does every line have to hit, or merely make its point and keep going?

There is a fluidity of motion in the first that I like, and a bigger picture of emotional distress in the second. The conflict is that we have, in this character’s mind at least, the possible death of her dream. Here’s a person who has been molded, created, trained to professional perfectionism that has run into a wall. Like all athletes, a possible career ending injury isn’t something to be taken lightly.

Further Consideration – All characters are gifts, even Valley Girl ballerinas, and she deserves the best I can give her as a writer, down to the smallest detail to make her shine. Or is that ridiculous?

Next time won’t be about me, promise. But we all face these things, don’t we?

 

 

Published by

Phil Huston

https://philh52.wordpress.com/

18 thoughts on “RANDOM NVDT – Writerly Concerns #17 – What’s My Line?”

  1. We assume this is Jackson’s POV.
    Seemed’s sense is one of appearances, imaginings, I’d say.
    Felt’s is one more intimate. One I’d probably save for later. Felt, feeling, touch, etc.

    If she’s gonna die she’d prolly be a swan and not a rag doll.

    And some chairs you sit in and some you sit on. I’d posit that this is an “on” chair, hi-backed and cane-pole built. But, as I wrote version C) below, onto felt overt, so went with “into.” And “behind her” — with Jackson the secondary subject, I imagined the chair behind him. so, was misleading (at least in this window context).

    My preference:

    She made a defiant face, brought her leg down after what seemed like an eternity to Jackson, dropped into a wooden chair and folded over, shoulders to knees like a dying ballet rag doll.

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  2. Second one goes down more smoothly. However, don’t always write the way that goes down the most smoothly. When writing as a character, for instance, even bad word choices can be correct. Either way, I hope I take the time that you do to pick the right word…

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    1. Thank you for the input. I’m with you on rules out the window for dialogue and character. Now that I look at this sentence it’s one of those our brain makes allowances for even if the logic is “wrong”. Stay tuned for rewrite post.

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    1. I want to go this way, after I reconstruct the sentence’s lack of logic. Felt works because he’s been feeling this class for a few days and subconsciously puts him IN the situation and less of an observer. Throes has it’s merits as it visualizes a fight more than a surrender so now that becomes a question of how hopeless does she feel?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I only mock your randomness (but as your page title suggests…) and how you have such a great story but spend your time driving it in circles instead of making it what it could be. I mean I like to hang with characters and stories going nowhere and write bits for them just to be there and the hell with it ever going anywhere, but your idea is, however loosely backstoried, great. With a little finesse a great dark comedy caper/sifi/conspiracy send up. A transcendent bed? That’s not unlike a nutcase wandering around with a collander on their head getting orders from the pizza delivery guy? Son of Sam and his neighbor’s dog? It’s all there.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Glad you like some/part of it…but believe it or not, I’m moving the story ahead as fast as I can…because I didn’t know where it was going to begin with. (You figured that out already.) Btw, I Love the Son of Sam analogy! Hadn’t thought of that…it cracks me up!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I prefer the second, definitely. I agree with you about ‘seemed’. And i try never to use the passive; i say try, but sometimes i give in. I cringe a little though, because it’s not active…

    Liked by 1 person

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