1. Shandeh
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    Shandeh Active Member

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    grittier, less "educated" ways of getting the message across...

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Shandeh, Jun 28, 2013.

    I'm playing with one of my many side projects at the moment and in this one my MC is a soldier.

    Going through and editing I've managed to make most of it sufficiently gritty and soldier-y but I'm really struggling with the one sentence.

    Presently I have, "It lacked the pallor of death," but that seems a; a bit too tell and not enough show, and b; a bit too educated. I keep coming up with less tell, more show, but more education.

    I'm trying to describe a hand sticking out of the rubble as my MC assists in the cleanup and rescue efforts after the enemy has attacked. In context of the passage, it sticks out like a sore thumb: ****WARNING, LANGUAGE****

    He sighed and went back to digging, shoving his crowbar in as deep as he damn well could. Same old fucking story. Planet to goddamned planet, it never changed. With a grunt of effort, Gunny Grisham levered another slab off the pile. There was a hand under it. Attached to an arm. Didn’t look as crushed as the others he’d seen. It lacked the pallor of death. Alive?

    Maybe. Probably not. He reached down, cautious, hopeful despite himself. Warm - it was fucking warm. It clawed at his glove. Grish spat a string of curses and yanked his hand back. Holy shit-on-a-stick, that was a person. Not another corpse, but a person.

    First damn sign of hope he’d seen on eight planets. He straightened. “Oi, Sarge, we got a live one over here!”

    This is close 3P, sci-fi/futuristic warfare. I initially had my favourite curse in there but sadly had to delete it in the editing because it just doesn't fit with the scene. Also, his name is just a working filler, I have a John Grisham novel on my writing desk at present and it was as such the first thing I could think of. I'm horrible at names.
     
  2. Shandeh
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    Shandeh Active Member

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    OK, I have definitely been overthinking this.

    After another re-read, I'm starting to feel like, "Something was off about it. Not pale enough," fits quite nicely with the narrative voice... but is very telly... Hmm...
     
  3. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    :D just wondering if that was intentional hehe!
     
  4. Shandeh
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    Shandeh Active Member

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    Nope, I just use "sticking out" a lot. Laughing at myself now...
     
  5. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    How about this? I've added my line at the end, but simply included your paragraph so you can see how it flows.

    I have no idea what rigor mortis ought to look like, so my description of "translucent" might be wrong, but you get the idea! The skin was pale, the skin was pink, the skin was flushed - take your pick :D
     
  6. starlingarcher
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    starlingarcher New Member

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    What about something like:
    It didn’t look as crushed or pallid as the others he’d seen. The hand looked fresh--the skin a warmer flesh tone. Someone alive?

    or just: The skin had a warmer flesh tone. Or brighter flesh tone.
    or different tact: Instead of the gray pallor of the others, blue veins stood out against a warmer flesh tone in this hand.

    Some ideas to chew on, maybe.
     
  7. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    If it's a light skin color, you could see the blood give the skin a reddish hue.
     
  8. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    .
    Didn’t look as crushed as the others he’d seen. It lacked the pallor of death. Alive? And no deathly pallor. What the...?

    That would do for me. And forget rigor mortis - you wouldn't effectively tell just by looking.
     
  9. Shandeh
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    Shandeh Active Member

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    Thanks all :) You've all given me some awesome helpful thoughts. Much appreciated :)
     

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