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Marble Memories

 
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Tenshi



Joined: 18 Apr 2008
Posts: 2594
Location: Star Stuff

PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2012 7:06 am    Post subject: Marble Memories Reply with quote

(Thoughts? Wanted to see how clearly I could convey an emotion without back story, and with brevity.)

Chik. The sound of a chisel on stone sounded out again. Chik. Again the chisel came down, digging harshly against the stone block, chipping away its face. Chik. The hammer tapped the chisel's flat end, spurring the movement forward and downward. Chik. The block had begun to take the shape that his mind had created, had begun to take the form he desired.

The stonemason set his tools down upon the table the stone block sat upon, and exhaled a strong breath. Stone dust billowed out all around the stone, and formed a wreathed cloud - a halo of light - behind the head of the bust. There was a faintly pointed chin, gradual cheekbones that framed a heart-shaped face, and eyes that somehow maintained their warmth even in stone form. He reached out to brush his hands over the rising swell of either cheekbone, and then frowned. "Not quite right," he mused, and lifted up the coarse bit of paper that he had used to smooth and shape the stone.

The work continued as it had before, his focus keeping him well into the waning hours of the day. By nightfall it had become a clearly feminine bust, revealing bare shoulders, a well formed throat, and voluminous curling hair that tumbled and cascaded, framing round, smooth shoulders. He leaned back to inspect his work, and found that the only response he could muster was, at first, a vague smile. He inhaled quietly, steadily, and reached out with dark, granite-stained hands to capture the bust's shoulders in gentle, near affectionate placement.

The near-white power that stained his skin served to slowly buffer the transition from dark to light, and it made them appear, at least in his own mind, as one once again. He let out a long, quiet sigh, and leaned his head forward until the dark mocha of his forehead met the mottled greys of the granite forehead he had crafted. He felt the hairline just above 'her' forehead meet his own, and quietly he closed his eyes.

He remained like that, communing silently with this freshly made statue, for some minutes. When he finally lifted himself up, it was without much of a fuss. He rose to his feet quietly, and brushed his hands somewhat more clean on a towel tucked into his belt. He turned away from the statue, setting down the towel on the edge of the table once he was done. Nor did he look back, not once, as he maneuvered calmly from the room.

The bust of a smiling woman waited for the staff who would later collect it. She had high, heart-shaped cheekbones and a narrow chin, but her lips were broad and full. Her eyes radiated with a warmth that denied her new stone countenance, and her hair curled like birthday ribbons as it draped down upon her bare shoulders.

Doubtless, the two small dots of water upon either cheek would have long dried by the time anyone came to see the man's work.
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Nem



Joined: 14 Apr 2008
Posts: 2141
Location: England

PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2012 2:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're focusing too much on describing repetitive mechanical movements, without using a lot of emotive language or relating them to the character. Your use of language contains a lot of redundant terms.

The best piece of description here is this:

'Stone dust billowed out all around the stone, and formed a wreathed cloud - a halo of light - behind the head of the bust.'

#

On a point by point basis:

Tenshi wrote:
Chik. The sound of a chisel on stone sounded out again.


What else would it do?

Tenshi wrote:
Chik. Again the chisel came down, digging harshly against the stone block, chipping away its face.


Again - repetition with end of last sentence. This sentence is very long for what it says - we already know he's a hammering away on a bit of stone. The main bit is the chipping away its face - it gives some insight into how the person's looking at things.

Tenshi wrote:
Chik. The hammer tapped the chisel's flat end, spurring the movement forward and downward. Chik.


Just said this, in almost as many words. If you had longer sections talking about how the person was relating to the piece it might serve to ground the structure of the story - to separate for instance different sections of flashback or imagination.

Tenshi wrote:
The block had begun to take the shape that his mind had created, had begun to take the form he desired.


Technically different, thematically identical.

Tenshi wrote:
The stonemason set his tools down upon the table the stone block sat upon,


Is it really important to say where he placed them? I wasn't even picturing the stone block on a table. One of the problems of writing is, IME, to use detail sparingly. Whenever you contradict the person's interpretation of events, it serves as a break to immersion. So either get the details in at the start of a scene or speak in general terms.

That's my thoughts on that bit anyway.

Tenshi wrote:
and exhaled a strong breath.


Strength just sort of implied by the fact it's mentioned at all.

What else would be exhaling? Exhaled is not common parlance, IMO sounds mechanical and formal - breathed perhaps.

The mason set his tools down and breathed upon the face of the stone.

-shrug-

Tenshi wrote:
Stone dust billowed out all around the stone, and formed a wreathed cloud - a halo of light - behind the head of the bust.


What other kind of dust would it be likely to be? It must be a pretty light stone - perhaps tell us something about how the mason relates to that instead.

Tenshi wrote:
There was a faintly pointed chin, gradual cheekbones that framed a heart-shaped face, and eyes that somehow maintained their warmth even in stone form. He reached out to brush his hands over the rising swell of either cheekbone, and then frowned. "Not quite right," he mused, and lifted up the coarse bit of paper that he had used to smooth and shape the stone.


The first sentence of this is fairly good - though stone form sounds a little awkward.

The second sentence - 'He reached out to - the rising swell of either cheekbone...' A lot of the words there aren't really adding much. Cheekbone sounds a bit off by itself. - My what lovely cheekbones you have my dear, excuse me while I dissect your head and get them out for a look.

He reached for the swell of her cheeks - paused. "Not quite right."

Do we need to be told he's musing?

Tenshi wrote:
The work continued as it had before, his focus keeping him well into the waning hours of the day.


Redundant - effectively been established earlier that he cares about his work. If you want to establish the passage of time perhaps relate it to some physical phenomena that attracted his attention instead.

Tenshi wrote:
By nightfall it had become a clearly feminine bust,


Largely follows from heart shaped face.

Tenshi wrote:
revealing bare shoulders, a well formed throat, and voluminous curling hair that tumbled and cascaded, framing round, smooth shoulders. He leaned back to inspect his work, and found that the only response he could muster was, at first, a vague smile. He inhaled quietly, steadily, and reached out with dark, granite-stained hands to capture the bust's shoulders in gentle, near affectionate placement.


Granite - I was assuming it was a fairly light stone. Leans back to inspect his works - sort of assumed - found that the only response he could muster was at first a.... Very long - just say he leaned back and a smile crept onto his face or something, perhaps.

Tenshi wrote:
The near-white power [I assume you mean powder] that stained his skin served to slowly buffer the transition from dark to light, and it made them appear, at least in his own mind, as one once again.


I don't know what you're talking about here. What transition from dark to light? Weren't his hands stained dark with granite? I assume the bust is granite then.

...

Have you forgone to mention that the stonemason is a ... coloured ... gentleman?

Tenshi wrote:
He let out a long, quiet sigh, and leaned his head forward until the dark mocha of his forehead met the mottled greys of the granite forehead he had crafted. He felt the hairline just above 'her' forehead meet his own, and quietly he closed his eyes.


Why's her in quotation marks here? A narrative voice is the most intimate instrument a writer has. Which makes the advice some people give to show rather than tell perhaps a bit misguided... though I can see the difficulty in encoding a more precise heuristic. But the point is some of how the character thinks is almost expected to creep into it.

...

Struggling to think how you could noisily close your eyes. =p

Dark and mocha mean essentially the same thing in this context - pick one.

[quote="Tenshi"]He remained like that, communing silently with this freshly made statue, for some minutes.

If he remained like that you don't need to describe it. If you need to describe it just go into the description.

Some minutes is just sort of bound up in minutes.

We know it's freshly made, he just made it.

Tenshi wrote:
When he finally lifted himself up, it was without much of a fuss. He rose to his feet quietly,


These both describe the same thing.

[quote="Tenshi"]and brushed his hands somewhat more clean on a towel tucked into his belt.

- cleaner

Tenshi wrote:
He turned away from the statue,


Extraneous. Any turn from something is away from it by definition.

Tenshi wrote:
setting down the towel on the edge of the table once he was done.


Similar to the tools point earlier - why are you telling us this?

[quote="Tenshi"]Nor did he look back, not once, as he maneuvered calmly from the room.

He didn't do the thing you accused him of, nor did he steal that car.

He did eat the chocolate, and he....

Tenshi wrote:
The bust of a smiling woman waited for the staff who would later collect it.


Don't need to say would and later. The case of the sentence has been set already.

Tenshi wrote:
She had high, heart-shaped cheekbones and a narrow chin, but her lips were broad and full. Her eyes radiated with a warmth that denied her new stone countenance, and her hair curled like birthday ribbons as it draped down upon her bare shoulders.


We know it's new.

Tenshi wrote:
Doubtless, the two small dots of water upon either cheek would have long dried by the time anyone came to see the man's work.


Perhaps if the preceding writing was more emotive this would seem less melodramatic. AS it is I'm just having trouble figuring out the angle you'd need to transfer two tears while you were wrested forehead to forehead =p

#

The problem with giving feedback like this is that it can seem incredible negative. Especially if you end up repeating yourself a lot. So don't take it too much to heart. It's mostly just application of the feedback at the top ^^;
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Asa



Joined: 10 Apr 2008
Posts: 3538
Location: Grammar Police HQ. Watch your language, I'm armed with the NYTimes Style Book AND Strunk and White!

PostPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2012 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, Nem, I liked many of the bits you wanted Usa to change. Overall I agree with you, with your general idea, but certain phrases I liked as is. I'm just too tired and distracted to sit down and type out a point-by-point rebuttal.

I do agree with Nem about the overuse of physical detail. There's too much focus on the mechanical actions of the scene to convey much emotion, but I did get a certain feeling from the piece. To me it felt like... closed doors, like history. Not nostalgia, not wistfulness, which both imply a desire to go back, just... memory. Though I may be reading my own feelings into it. Not really an emotion, I guess. Your quest isn't really aided by the fact that the emotion I think you're trying to portray is very quiet, and doesn't really lend itself to succinct and expressive description.
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