Monday, December 15, 2014

Original expressions for ordinary expressions

One of the things I most like to observe in my favorite writers is how they come up with fresh, original ways to describe everyday facial expressions, etc. Although dialogue should be able to hold its own, it can be difficult to add life to an interaction between characters without some equally vivid sketches of their movements, gestures, and mannerisms as they speak. Sometimes these cues are just as essential to the subtext as the words spoken. Here is the first installment of a few good ones I've noticed here and there!

1. An unusual verb--most people would go for "drains" or "he went pale":
"Blood evacuates Lorca's ears and cheeks." 
--p 36, Marie-Helene Bertino. 2 a.m. at the Cat's Pajamas. New York, NY: Random House; 2014. 
2. A vivid simile:
"...Ruelle's face seals over like the visor of a knight clanging down." 
--p428 (Kindle edition), All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

3. A portrait of a grandfather morning his daughter: both an unusual gesture (biting a knuckle vs the overdone bitten lip) and an easily visualized simile:
"Grandpa looks at the pictures and blinks and puts a knuckle between his teeth. For maybe thirty seconds he doesn't answer. He looks like he's standing outside an elevator waiting for the doors to open."  
--p165, The River Nemunas. In: Anthony Doerr. Memory Wall. New York, NY: Scribner; 2010. 

No comments:

Post a Comment