1. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Need opinion about sentence

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by jazzabel, Mar 28, 2013.

    Hi guys,

    I just wanted to ask if the following description reads ok:

    I like it, but I am aware that it's a bit experimental, so if you think it doesn't work or it could be better, suggestions are greatly appreciated :)
     
  2. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi Jazz

    With fear of sounding silly - did she wearing matching shoes or just heels that magically stuck to her foot?
    Not so much as if she was walking on glass - sounds like she is on something slippy or she's being very carefully not to walk heavily on something fragile
    Why would her legs shatter? They may break if her stillettoes were crippling her.
    Behind her trailed the scent of diesel and cigarettes - Like she works in a garage? Why would she wear high heeled shoes working in a garage?

    Obviously you know the rest of the story - maybe she was kidnapped in the city and tied up overnight in a garage and managed to escape - hence the smell, the crazy walk/run but then she'd take her shoes off. I'm rambling, sorry lol!

    But with just two lines I'd wonder..
     
  3. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think, for me, some visual confusion came because first we have the 'walked past', then the description of how she walked, so I saw her walking normally, and then oh wait! Not normally. And while I could understand how walking on glass might look, the legs shattering thing missed me completely. I had to read the whole thing several times before I understood that she must not be used to wearing heels. I think, though, with just a little re-arranging, you could keep most of the descriptions while making it more clear (well, except for the shattered legs ;)).
     
  4. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi erebh :)
    Thanks for the questions. I didn't give the context because I wanted to see if the sentences generally made sense.
    This is a small transition as the detective is waiting at a red light. The girl has walked past looking like this. The segment I asked about is just a little picture in words, describing a busy West London street on a rainy Monday morning.
    I wanted to see if my metaphor worked, because I see women like that all the time :D

    'Heels' is how lots of women refer to high heels but perhaps that wasn't very clear. Diesel from the bus fumes and cigarette smell from all the people smoking outside.

    @shadow: Thanks for the suggestion, I'll re-work it. Although, legs of glass is what I am trying to make work :D
    In my mind, I wanted to emphasise insecure, unstable walk, inappropriate shoes, posh neighbourhood, overdressed for the occasion, a bit weird and in her own world (the girl), and contrast with a wet smelly street. Poetically :D
     
  5. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ah so you're the poor bastard outside smoking "A girl in a red coat and bright red heels walked past, not so much as if she was walking on glass, but as if her legs might shatter at any moment. Instead of perfume, behind her trailed the scent of diesel and cigarettes."

    That makes all the difference but...

    If she's all dolled up in red with matching heels ( i did get that by the way - it just sounded funny) on a Monday morning going to work in the West End, I'd imagine she's just doused herself in perfume - would simply walking by smokers outside their office mask her expensive scent? Would bus fumes?

    Although I know different but when you mention wet London streets I imagine cobbles - could be perfect for your dangerous walk
     
  6. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Walking though her legs were made of glass, a girl wearing a bright red coat with matching heels walked by—trailing diesel and cigarette smoke behind her like perfume.
     
  7. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @erbh: Yes, that's the setting except the detective is in her car with the window open, waiting behind a bus (diesel fumes). The girl walks past and is observed by the detective, but as she passes, instead of the expected smell of perfume, the detective can only smell bus fumes and cigarettes, increasing the absurdity of the girl's already absurd appearance. And yes, wet cobblestones are a nightmare for heels, I speak of glass legs from personal experience :D

    Maybe it just doesn't work at all out if context.
     
  8. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    That sounds good Nee, thank you :)
     
  9. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    the girl struggled by trying to negotiate the wet cobbled streets in her patent red stilletoes. It looked like her ankles were about to shatter any moment but she soldiered on regardless. Clutching her matching coat she tried to protect her Chanel No5 from the Marlboro Light brigade at her office door but it was futile; the spluttering cloud of diesel smoke from the double decker saw to that.
     
  10. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    That reads lovely @erebh, but it's a bit too dense with detail than what I intended it to be :)
     
  11. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you are going to have "not so much as if..." it means you have described a situation, and then after that you interpret the situation, saying it is more like one thing than another. You don't have the setting up here, or the two alternatives.

    To use it, you need something like:
    A girl in a red coat and skyscraper heels walked past, placing her feet with agonising deliberation. (the situation) It looked not so much as if she was walking on a treacherous surface, (1st alternative) but more as if her legs were so tense they might shatter at any moment (2nd, more likely alternative) . Instead of perfume, she trailed diesel and cigarettes.
     
  12. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    Could you say that she tottered unsteadily, the wet footpath causing her even more concern than the ill-fitting stilettos? Then diesel fumes and cigarette smoke masking her perfume?
     
  13. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not too sure why she would smell of diesel--wouldn't it be the traffic fumes swirling around that contributed to that smell? I know you want to use the "glass legs" image, but to me that conveys only that they are fragile/breakable, and that doesn't seem to suit this girl. Her legs are strong enough, just held very rigidly. "Glass ankles" might have more of a chance?
     
  14. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Pulling her coat tighter against the dank late night London fog, she struggled to successfully negotiate the wet cobblestone while wearing her band new cherry red fuck-me pumps—later she would remember the acrid stink of diesel and stale cigarette smoke as she was clubbed over the head and thrown into the back of a van.
     
  15. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd prefer to use dialogue especially seeing as you have two detectives sitting in a car looking out her. The male laughing / jeering - the female sympathetic

    "She's gonna break her neck in them shoes she is"
    The girl in the red coat?"
    "Yeah, why do women put themselves through so much pain just to look good?"
    "You said it Captain Caveman!"
    "Close that window will ya, that bus exhaust stinks and it's pissing out"
    "I will when I finish my fag. What's go into you today ya grumpy git?"
     
  16. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @madhoca and SwampDog: thank you very much guys! @erebh: haha, that's really funny :D But they are not that friendly with each other just yet.

    Ok, a re-write options

    OR

    @Nee's suggestion:
     
  17. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Nees; in the first she would hardly fall up, the second is far more concise, to the point without the flowery bits.
     
  18. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Okay, now I'm having trouble with the diesel and cigarette smells - I read it as in she smelled that way, meaning she probably worked at or near a garage. (Which might also explain why she was having trouble walking in heels.) Even put into context, I don't think it conveys what you want it to. I agree with a couple others, you'd have to make it clear that the detective expected to smell perfume but the street smells overpowered it.
     
  19. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @shadow and erebh: Thanks so much guys for being honest. I love Nee's suggestion, but I feel compelled to try and write it myself (if I have an epic fail, I hope it's ok to use yours @Nee).

    I know it's just a small transition, but I'm quite emotionally invested in the legs of glass, for some reason I really like it. So I'll use this

    (ps. just added 'tentatively')

    Something like that. I'll keep working on it :)
     
  20. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Or she just fire-bombed a warehouse full of cigarettes.
     
  21. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Contrary to what people mostly think of the hard-boiled style, it is not so much as simplifying the text as it is condensing and stripping away anything that is not needed--or interferes with--implanting a sharp concise image in the heads of the readers. Many times extraneous detail, which may deliver a rounder richer idea of what is happening around the characters, will in a hard-boiled story actually prevent the reader from experiencing the stark one after another imagery--like cards flipping over--that is one of the hallmarks of the style.
     
  22. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    It's still the legs of glass bit that's awkward. If she was unused to (such high) stilettos, and the footpath was wet, then her ankles would be fragile and susceptible to breakage - as the stem of a delicate glass...

    Anything there?
     
  23. SwampDog
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    Blast, first it disappears, then after rewriting, it's there...
     
  24. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I like her new coat :)
     
  25. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with you Nee, but I am not trying to emulate the hardboiled style as such. I find this exact thing, stripping away as you described, too restricting as a "style". I like to make sure nothing is extraneous, but I don't like having to exclude rich detail at all costs. So I permit myself flights of fancy once in a while and when it works, it works quite well. This just hasn't worked (yet) ;)

    @SwampDog: Your idea makes perfect sense, but it's not quite what I had in mind. The girl is just one of those girls you see around in ridiculously fancy outfits getting splashed all over with murky rainwater by the passing busses or heels getting stuck in cobblestones. Inappropriately dressed, so she attracted attention, kinda thing.

    @erbh: yeah, me too ;)
     

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