1. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    is this poetic or just bad?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Mckk, Aug 21, 2014.

    "I cannot really stopper the night in a jar with the dark night wind."

    ^That's the sentence in question. The co-author of our book thinks the second "night" just looks clumsy - like either I didn't know I repeated myself or that I was simply too lazy to edit.

    I disagree with her.

    So, I'm seeking a second opinion... What do you think?

    And if you agree with my friend (eg. the second "night" should be scrapped), then could you suggest an alternative word? Because the rhythm of the sentence doesn't work for me personally without the word.
     
  2. JamesBrown
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    JamesBrown Active Member

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    She was right. "... dark cold wind" for example sounds better.
     
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  3. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am curious about the rhythm with which you read that sentence. When I deliberately subvocalize it and pay attention to the rhythm (which I do not normally do when I read and which I think is bizarre that people actually do), I sense this rhythm:

    "i can NOT real ly STOP per the NIGHT in a JAR with the DARK (pause) (pause) NIGHT (pause) (pause) WIND."

    Replacing "night" with "wind" does not detract from the rhythm at all.

    As for my opinion about the sentence, "night" is completely unnecessary as an adjective for "wind". So is "dark" -- since when does air have a color? Really, the sentence is clumsy. I would be more inclined to write something like "I cannot really preserve the night by holding an open bottle to the breeze and then putting a stopper on it."
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2014
  4. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think here it's a matter of taste - not everything has to be literal and it is not necessarily a bad thing to put colour to the wind (think the Disney song, "Colours of the Wind" lol - and it's a lovely song and the title is equally lovely, with a perfectly nonsensical chorus line of "Can you paint with the colours of the wind?" It means nothing, but it's lovely and fits the song)

    And here's why I call it taste - because I dislike your rewrite. If you're gonna get literal with the whole thing, then the sentence should just be scrapped because it goes without saying that no one can actually "keep" the night in a bottle. The whole point of even having such a sentence is abstract and leans towards poetry, and therefore to be too literal with your choice of words and phrasing would detract from it and make the whole thing sound ridiculous. I do not say what you wrote is bad, because I do really think it's a matter of personal taste and style rather than that grey line of "good" and "bad" writing.

    Now, as for rhythm - yes, you read it as I'd intended I believe. For me, "with the dark (pause) (pause) wind" feels too abrupt the way it ends. The "dark (...) (...) night (...) (...) wind" gives it more of a... patter patter kinda sound to it, eases you to a stop a little more.

    However, now that you raise the point that both "dark" and "night" are technically unnecessary, the only other way I would rewrite it would be like this:

    "I cannot really stopper the night in a jar with the wind."

    It is plainer, but also cleaner. And perhaps it is better. What do you think?

    Btw, thank you for your honest opinion :) I hope you don't feel I was trying to dismiss it by saying what I did. Every opinion is insightful and I appreciate it. And it is true that sometimes I try to put so much poetry - or what I consider poetry anyway - into my narrative and there's definitely a chance it might simply be a little OTT. I admit this could have happened to this sentence here, perhaps.
     
  5. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @daemon - here, this is the full paragraph: (and I edited the original sentence and deleted the two adjectives, because perhaps you're right that they're unnecessary)


    “I sure am gonna miss the sky,” I say quietly, finding a smile for Harl, for the thought of the stars sprinkled like jewels upon the dark. I want to pluck the moon down and pin it in Megan’s hair.

    There’s nothing I can do, though. I cannot really stopper the night in a jar with the wind, keep the songs of the forests in a music box. I can’t really give her the moon. Not even a sliver of light. And suddenly the thought of losing it all, of the dream finally crumbling at my feet becomes too much, and I push back at tears I will not shed. Dreams are made for fools, anyway.
     
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  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I like it. Yes, it uses the same word twice in rapid succession. Yes, it uses two adjectives. I like it anyway. I think that you'd have to refrain from breaking either of those rules again for a long, long time in the text that follows it, but I think it's worth it.
     
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  7. Rumwriter
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    Rumwriter Active Member

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    I have several issues:

    1) Yes, the repeated "night" is a little strange to me.

    2) I'm reading the "dark" as qualifying "wind," not "night." Wind is moving air, and air is clear. So what the heck is dark wind?

    3) The "cannot" feels really formal without the contraction, but without context this could go either way.

    4) I have no idea what the sentence as a whole means. Maybe it would make more sense with context also, but someone is trying to seal the night in a jar, but it's too windy? Not really sure what it means.
     
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  8. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I prefer this, it's smoother, and I like the rhythm. You just have to trust your own ear (and vision) here. Choose what you like the best. :)
     
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  9. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I assume that the speaker wants to preserve the experience of the night and the wind, but realizes that she can't. I get a crystal clear meaning from it--even though it may or may not be the meaning that the author means. :)

    I wonder if this metaphor depends on specific experiences on the reader's part? I realize that in my mind it ties to the idea of canning summer produce, trying to preserve that summer taste--and with it the summer experience, the sun and the sky and the humming of the insects in the garden--in a jar. And thus, preserving time and experiences.

    But if one's primary association of jars is with grape jelly for childhood sandwiches, or as a place to store nuts and bolts on the garage workbench, or something else, then those associations are missing.
     
  10. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yup, the way you understood it is the way I meant it :) I included the whole paragraph later on in the thread.

    It's interesting to get such varied responses.
     
  11. Rumwriter
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    Rumwriter Active Member

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    Listen to mine.
     
  12. Sheriff Woody
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    Sheriff Woody Active Member

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    Two things that irk me...

    1 - The double use of 'night' is redundant

    2 - I don't like the use of the word 'really', particularly since it directly precedes 'stopper'. When used in conjunction, the sentence sounds anachronistic and forced. I would drop the adverb and let the verb to the heavy lifting.

    And I'll throw in a third for the heck of it. 3 - Why '...with the wind'? Is there a context to this action, or is the wind mentioned just to be mentioned? Putting night in a jar with wind feels to me that there needs to be context for this statement to work. If not, I would lose it.

    Don't be poetic for the sake of it. Be clear.
     
  13. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Feel free to scroll and see the full paragraph - I've included it in a later response to another member.

    Could you clarify what's actually unclear about it? Does the mention of the wind necessarily have to have any extra meaning to it? And how does its lack of extra meaning make it unclear?
     
  14. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @Sheriff Woody

    As per your objection to the word "really" and that perhaps the mention of the wind is unnecessary, is this any better?

    @ChickenFreak - since you're so far the only one who liked the original sentence, I'd also be curious how you like the rewrite.

    Due to overwhelming consensus that by and large, the sentence is seen as awkward, I will likely change it a bit.

    And I will include the entire paragraph for context.

    “I sure am gonna miss the sky,” I say quietly, finding a smile for Harl, for the thought of the stars sprinkled like jewels upon the dark. I want to pluck the moon down and pin it in Megan’s hair.

    There’s nothing I can do, though. I can't stopper the night in a jar, or keep the songs of the forests in a music box. I can’t really give her the moon. Not even a sliver of light. And suddenly the thought of losing it all, of the dream finally crumbling at my feet becomes too much, and I push back at tears I will not shed. Dreams are made for fools, anyway.
     
  15. Sheriff Woody
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    Sheriff Woody Active Member

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    There is no correlation between the night and the wind. Why associate them?

    This may be insignificant to others, but to me, it takes me out of the story. Instead of feeling the emotion of the scene, I'm hung up on the seemingly unrelated factors - night, wind, jar.

    If there is no logical reason for them to be associated, then, to me, it is too poetic.
     
  16. Sheriff Woody
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    Sheriff Woody Active Member

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    This reads much cleaner and easier, in my view. And the 'really' preceding the moon is okay, because the moon was referenced earlier, which highlights the contrast between the actions - plucking the moon and not really being able to do that.

    This is just my own preference, and many others may have a different preference. However, this is a step above what you originally had, if you ask me.
     
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  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I have two problems with it. "Dark night wind" strikes me as redundant. Would you ever have a night wind that is not dark?

    The other problem is that I have no idea what is meant by "with the dark night wind." Are you enclosing the nocturnal gusts in the jar also, or are you employing the gale to seal the flask?

    The repetition of night (as a direct object, once as an adjective) is weak, too, so I guess I do agree with the friend. Repetition works best with parallel structure, or at least consistency in the part of speech.
     
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  18. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Glad to hear you liked it. And yes your opinions are always welcome :)

    But now that the meter (or whatever it's called) has changed, I am strongly considering deleting also "in a music box". Thoughts?
     
  19. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I think it's fine as it is. To me, the two nights mean different things. The first "night" is talking about a particular night, and the second "night" is modifying "wind." Without the second "night," that last phrase loses some specificity, which is fine if that's what you're going for.

    The only thing I'll point out is that "dark night wind" is a bit unclear. Is "wind" being modified by both "night" and "wind?" In that case, you need to write it as "dark, night wind." (I'm not sure what a dark wind looks like, but I'm going to assume this book you're writing is fantasy or something similar.)
     
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  20. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    Personally, I think the sentence as a whole is clumsy simply because nobody (in my universe) would talk like that. I would say, "I can't catch/keep/trap the night wind in a jar." But, then again, I'm not poetic.
     
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  21. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @Garball - I actually quite like your version, but I don't think it fits the tone I want the scene to have.

    @Cogito @thirdwind
    Seems the phrase "dark night wind" is unclear to most people, including earlier @Sheriff Woody and I believe also @Rumwriter

    Based on the overwhelming consensus, I think I will definitely cut that phrase - the wind is not significant. I added it only to make it sound good and it seems most don't feel it works. I have my own doubts about it anyway - I like it but it doesn't shine for me. You know how it is when you KNOW something you wrote is beautiful. I don't get that vibe from this particular passage. I do have a tendency to try and make things "poetic" lol.

    So for all these reasons, I will change it. Thank you all for your insights, both positive and negative!
     
  22. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    This puzzles me a bit. In a thunderstorm, I wouldn't say, "There's no correlation between the lightning and the wind." They're both part of the same thing. Now, I realize that this is a flawed analogy, because they both have the same cause--the storm. But I don't see them as part of the same experience because I know that they scientifically have the same cause; I see them as part of the same experience because, well, I do.

    In my town here, we have hot summer days, with mostly still air--or if we get a breeze, it's hot, so it doesn't feel like wind, it just feels like it's stirring up the heat. Eventually the sun sets, and we have hot, still twilight, and then we have hot, still night, and then there's a moment that feels sudden, when there's a cool breeze, and then it's really night. The night causes the wind. The wind announces the night.

    The idea of putting that moment in a jar, to experience whenever I please, is a lovely one. And I find it delightful that in so very few words, Mckk expressed something that takes me so many words to express.

    So the correlation makes perfect sense to me. But I suspect that it requires the reader's associations to match up just right with the phrase.

    Mckk, the rewrite is just fine, but I liked the original better. If you go with the rewrite, I hope you find a place for the original in a poem or something. :)
     
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  23. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I was waiting for you to post this, because you can't just post a sentence alone and ask if it's good. Everything needs context.

    I find that I can't parse "I say quietly, finding a smile for Harl, for the thought of the stars sprinkled like jewels upon the dark." I don't know what you mean by that. Also, I have privately discontinued the use of the word "upon." It almost never works. It's the word every pseudo-poetic teenager uses to prove to their readers that they're deep. I wrote "upon" in my stuff 475,000 times and fuck "upon." I realized it came to the party in fancy dress but it's a beggar.

    As for the sentence in question, I think it's okay in its context. Those who say "night" is redundant are missing the point. Redundancy is often a good thing, providing emphasis and power. I weep for writers who don't recognize that.

    I like your extract. The mood works for me. Don't let others ruin your style - you've got something good going on here. Keep working at it, and good luck!
     
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  24. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Posted in it's context it works. And sounds lovely. I especially love the sentence - I want to pluck the moon down and pin it in Megan's hair - wonderful!
     
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  25. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @ChickenFreak - I went for the rewrite after all, simply because the original caused far too much confusion. I don't understand what's so confusing about it mind you. If it wasn't a collaboration, I may have kept it anyway, but since my co-author also doesn't like it, and the rewrite works fine, so I changed it. I don't really write poems - never knew how lol. However, the fact that you seem to love my writing/ideas so much gives me much hope and delight!

    @minstrel - Thank you for your kind words; I'm glad to hear you feel the extract works as a whole, because truth be told I wasn't 100% sure. And I hope I don't use "upon" as many times as you did hahaha :p As for the sentence that you don't really get - Harl is a man who's standing there with my MC, so MC's offering a smile. The story context is that my MC thought his lover's just chosen his rival over him, after promises that she wouldn't. He's about to go home, back down to Level 1 where there's no sunlight - my MC hadn't ever seen the sun until the story started and he met the love interest, literally. Now he's heading home, but just the night before, he's seen the night sky for the very first time in his life. I guess I mean that he's smiling for all the beauty he's experienced and is now about to lose. It's why there's that whole paragraph about keeping the wind and night etc. Megan is his little sister who's still down in Level 1 (MC's travelled up to the topmost level, Level 10, where there's nothing to block the sun and open sky) and my MC's thinking about her, really, all the stuff she's missed and he'd do anything to share it with her, to have her experience it too, but it isn't possible. You know how when you are resigned to loss and you smile at a particularly lovely memory? That's what I mean.

    @peachalulu - aww thank you. I'm so glad you liked it so much.

    All in all, it seems those of you who enjoyed it *really* enjoyed it, and that's good enough for me :) I feel comforted and encouraged :D I don't mind it that there're those who don't get it, that's cool, as long as those who do get it feel it deeply.
     

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