Friday, July 11, 2008

Big and Small II

I've been thinking more about big and small, not in theme or story but actual physical details. This is one of the magical parts of writing (and reading): the way we can squeeze very, very close in and then, almost in the blink of an eye, rush out, way way out.

Things that are big:
  • "The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls." The sea, the heaving grey sea, so broad and deep that at first it doesn't even seem to move.
  • Thunderclouds that rise like blue castles to blot out the sun.
  • A hurricane viewed from space, that delicate furious spiral.
Things that are small:
  • A drop of salty water flung from an ocean wave onto your lip.
  • Hairs on the leg of a spider.
  • Flat facets and mineral cleavages on a single grain of sand.
  • Salt spilled on a slate floor.
  • An individual wood pore.
We don't just read stories, they take us places, help us change size, direct our gaze. I love that this means the scale of the story -- epic, personal, and everything in between -- as well as what we're experiencing -- a speck of dirt, the thunder of war, a bloodred aphid, the trade winds.

P.S. Extra credit for anyone who -- without Google -- can identify the source (author, work) of the quote in the first bullet point. Extra EXTRA credit for anyone who can recite the work from memory. Don't worry, it's very short. And very cool. Comment ... away!


Laini Taylor said...

I had to google it, but what a marvelous poem! I love me some metaphors and I have a tendency to overdo it, but it is such a joy to play with language, to try to conjure up images that really spark in a reader's mind. Such fun!

S R Wood said...

Hi Laini -- thanks for stopping by! I have to admit that I never knew what "purple prose" was until people started reading my rough drafts. Oops. But you're right: metaphors are hard to resist! Who ever thought that writing would involve restraint....