Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Writing Exercise - Filmy Fluttery

January 21 "Filmy Fluttery"
Dreaming by the Book, a path-breaking analysis of how novelists instruct us to form images in our minds as we read, Elaine Scarry devotes an entire chapter to "rarity". I call it "filmy fluttery." Writes Scarry, "rare objects--- ghosts, filmy curtains, shadows-- move more easily than solid ones do... Filmy objects--- hair, paper, light cloth, flower petals, butterflies (petals in motion)--- continually move about in the mind almost without effort." The exercise is this: In a typical café, what might be filmy or fluttery? Simply make a list of as many objects as you can, and very briefly describe the way in which these might move.

So here we go.

  • Curtains - The curtains billowed like smoke in the breeze.
  • Napkins - A sudden gust of wind from the open window inspired the napkins on the table to take flight, lifting them up into the air before watching them glide back down on their own.
  • Tablecloth - The light breeze carried the edges of the lacy tablecloth aloft with it, held aloft on nothing more than the slightest breath of air.
  • Wind Chimes - The movement of air in the cafe, created by the door set the wind chimes in motion like a flurry of butterflies, creating a chaotic but beautiful melody.

And that's five minutes. I don't spend enough time in cafes I guess. But I can definitely see the value in thinking about it, and visualizing a more complete setting. I'm not quite used to hitting the ground running in regards to writing - that's one of the reasons I'm pursuing these exercises.

I'm about to start working for the night now. So I'll post back later.

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