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  1. Nwriter

    Nwriter New Member

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    Please help me how I can describe this...

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Nwriter, Nov 6, 2019.

    Hi, I'm trying to write a scene where a man is sitting at a floor high up gazing out at a big city at the dead of night. I need help to describe the city. I want it to seem unusually quiet. Can I use any of this:

    A big city submitted to/subjected to/surrendered to the night. Only kept alive and breathing by silent lights.

    A big city breathing quietly in the night. (and something with lights)

    A big city glowing quietly in the night. (and another line)

    A big city in night lights. Quiet. Peaceful.

    I'm not a native speaker (as you probably have guessed), so I find it hard to figure out what is natural. I've been struggling with this for a long time, so I really hope you can help me.
     
  2. Tralala

    Tralala Member

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    Hi. I'll try and help!

    The city submitted to the night, only kept alive and breathing by silent lights.

    The city surrendered to the night, only kept alive and breathing by silent lights.

    A big city, breathing quietly in the night, was kept alive by silent lights.

    The city was glowing quietly in the night, kept alive by silent lights.

    The city, dressed in night lights, looked quiet and peaceful.

    These are the correct variations on your sentences.
     
  3. Nwriter

    Nwriter New Member

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    Thank you. Is there one of them you like in particular?
     
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  4. NobodySpecial

    NobodySpecial Contributor Contributor

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    So you have a character gazing out at a city late at night. My suggestion would be to put a glass of wine in his hand and make it a contemplative scene where he gets philosophical and metaphoric about the lights- how the lights equate to people, how people are reduced to a speck of light in the distance after the sun goes down.
    For the visual description of what he’s looking at, you don’t have to describe the city as a whole. Choose two or three key sensory details that will demonstrate the juxtaposition of the city at night v the city in the daytime. If he has a window open does he notice different smells? Has the smell of the dumpster in the alley been replaced by the curry someone in the building cooked for diner? Is he hearing a baby cry? Two cars drag racing? Gun shots? Music from a night club on his block? Try to describe a city full of life, not just a picture of that city.
    I honestly think the lines you posted are going to fall short of what you want. There’s nothing wrong with them, but they feel to me like the equivalent of describing a luxurious decadent feast as yummy.
     
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  5. Damage718

    Damage718 Member

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    Tralala had some excellent suggestions.

    Another way to consider it, is that you have a relatively simple scene: A man, sitting down, looking out at a big city at night. So then, why not keep your description equally as simple?

    The brightly lit city below was all too silent.
    The sprawling city before him was enveloped with an unusual silence.
    The city below was quiet; a peaceful change from its daytime bustle.
     
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  6. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The first line sounds good to me. Don't use the final line.

    Contrast is usually a good thing to use. Where there was once the clamour of construction and men and women trotting too fast to see the concrete skyscrapers around them, now there was quiet, the hum of city life mere undercurrent to the night. Headlights moved like glitter, drawn across the darkness. Red lights and living-room lamps, the tail lights of a plane like a beacon of travelers coming home. The city still breathed, but slowly now, a wind-up beast whose cogs were winding down. Footsteps became leisurely, the night occasionally rising with lilts of laughter - somewhere far away, out of sight, party-goers and lovers arm-in-arm.

    I dunno, I'm just playing. You get the picture.
     
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  7. Tralala

    Tralala Member

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    Probably the first one.

    It's tricky, because your metaphors are a bit mixed.

    You're surrendering. But also dying. They're not the same.

    I do like the image. But, as I say, it's just a bit hard to picture.

    Perhaps you could just say that the day surrendered or submitted to the night. That's easier to grasp.

    And then go on to make a separate point about the lights being a pale imitation of the sun, or that the lights are holding the memory of the sun.
     
  8. John12

    John12 New Member

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    Don't say (Big city) Everyone knows any city is big,
    A few suggestions, pick what you like.

    Above the lamplights glare
    The chimney landscape
    Stretches east to ___Whereever_____________

    Jade eyed wary
    The street wise cat inspects a waste bin
    Selecting delicacies with gloved talons
    Licks her paws and watches
    a left over reveller tacking across the road
    A rudderless frigate on an alcoholic sea

    Joyful cascades beat on cracked pavements
    From the shelter of a shop doorway
    The cat looks up at the peeping moon
    John
     
  9. Nwriter

    Nwriter New Member

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    Hi. Thanks for all your replies. I appreciate it.
    It's a script I'm writing, and the view of the city is the first lines in it. And then I describe that it's a man sitting by a window, lost in the view.

    A few questions:

    - Can't there be a big difference between a city and a big city?

    - Is it possible to write: A (instead of "the") big city submitted to the night, only kept alive and breathing by silent lights. ?
     
  10. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Take 'A big city' out of all of them. If you describe it right you won't need to tell the reader that. I don't think 'The city" in post #2 suggestions (sorry) is any better.

    @NobodySpecial has the right idea. The wine glass may or may not be the scene you are going for but put in what you are picturing. @John12 also has some good ideas. I'm not one for purple prose but sometimes it works just fine.

    If it's a script and not a novel, the rules are different. You need script writing help. The format differs completely.

    https://screencraft.org/2015/05/07/elements-of-screenplay-formatting/
    https://www.writersstore.com/how-to-write-a-screenplay-a-guide-to-scriptwriting/

    I am not promoting any of the products they sell on those pages. If this is a script you are asking the wrong question. I don't write scripts but other people here do.
     
  11. Nwriter

    Nwriter New Member

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    Hi. I know all about how to format a script (I think), but thanks anyway. As I'm writing a script I need to keep it short and simple, so I can't describe too much, which is why I prefer "big city", but if you say "city" is enough I'll go with that. I just focus on describing the view of the city, nothing more. Can write this:

    A (big) city submitted to the night, only kept alive and breathing by silent lights.

    I'm still not sure if it's okay. Please be honest if you don't like it.
     

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