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Jude's avatar

(Honest opinion) What are your thoughts on this bit of writing?

Asked by Jude (32112points) December 8th, 2010

Do you think that it’s any good?

On a Tuesday night, during the sticky, sweltering month of August, a young woman sits alone on a vast, rocky, cedar-lined expanse of beach in northern Michigan. She is gazing upward into the northwestern sky, watching billions of atmospheric atoms smash and collide with the wild energetic electrons of the solar wind and erupt in their red and green dance of orgasmic release above the dark waters of Lake Michigan. As she watches the tiny travelers from the Sun make love to the outermost inhabitants of the Earth in glorious auroral ecstasy, she is thinking about a girl.

It’s not mine.

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28 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Jesus, I have shivers going up my spine. Nice.
Even if it’s not yours it really applies doesn’t it?

nebule's avatar

Hmmm Interesting… I want to know who the tiny travellers from the sun are?

wundayatta's avatar

Resist the urge to add every adjective you can think of to each sentence. Generally, one is enough. Sometimes two. If you get to three, you better be damn sure you need it. This piece defines the word “torrid” in my opinion.

I kind of like the image of the aurora borealis being the signs of love making between the solar wind and earthly atoms. And it’s nice to use that image to correlate with what the girl is thinking—a kind of pathetic fallacy. It’s just a bit too much over the top for my taste.

You asked.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@wundayatta It’s got way too many adjectives, but I think it works. Especially the over the top part ending with the last six words being so simple.

wundayatta's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I’m glad you enjoyed it.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@wundayatta I appreciated your comments as well. If we all liked the same thing life would be pretty boring.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I think half the length would have twice the impact. The image is lovely but it gets lost in the verbiage.

everephebe's avatar

On a Tuesday night, during the sticky sweltering month of August, a young woman sits alone on a vast rocky cedar-lined expanse of beach in northern Michigan. She is gazing upward into the northwestern sky, watching billions of atmospheric atoms smash and collide with the wild energetic electrons of solar wind and erupt in their red and green dance of orgasmic release above the dark waters of Lake Michigan. As she watches the tiny travelers from the Sun, make love to the outermost inhabitants of the Earth in glorious auroral ecstasy, she is thinking about a girl.

-punctuation could change
-little too adjective prone
-trim the unnecessary words
-and as much as I hate myself for saying this, “show, don’t tell”

I like the ideas in it. Keep working it over.

DominicX's avatar

Well, to be honest, it sort of sounds like purple prose, but I do like the imagery. I just find it to be a little…ornate. As Peter Griffin would say, “it insists upon itself”.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I thought it kind of reminded me of sex. You got way too many things going on, and then you get there.

cazzie's avatar

There are too many details that don’t need to be there yet. Too much information, if you get what I mean. Do we really need to know it’s a Tuesday? or that the beach is in Michigan and is ‘cedar lined’? Those details are lovely, but they can be added as the story unfolds. Perhaps later she smells the cedar and that adds some interest in the story. We can learn she is in Michigan because of some other, more important part of the story. The details need to come out in a more real way or they are unnecessary.

When you write, you want it to seem real to the reader, not a lie. A lie always contains too many details. Does that make sense?

I like the imagery of watching the Northern Lights. That is chill rendering and much more interesting than it being a Tuesday and Michigan. And the fact that there is Northern lights on a hot August night…. very unusual…...

Jude's avatar

I appreciate everyone’s honesty.

My SO wrote it.

cazzie's avatar

One of the best opening lines in a book: ‘It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured.’ ..... then later in the second paragraph he grips up with, ‘I was a revolutionary who lost his ideals in heroin, a philosopher who lost his integrity in crime, and a poet who lost his soul in a maximum-security prison.’

No details… we still don’t know where he was imprisoned. Or what year, but we’re drawn in. We want to hang around now and read on and hear the whole story. He has prioritised the points and emotion he wants to get across and grips us with it.

TexasDude's avatar

I really dig it.

And I’m a really tough critic when it comes to writing, so that’s saying a lot.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I quite like it except for one thing: I don’t think the aurora borealis is very active as far south as the continental USA during any of the summer months. I could be wrong. I’d like to discover that the writer is correct and knows more about this than I do. But since I’ve never seen the aurora at any of the latitudes I’ve lived, even in the winter time, and I have looked for it, I don’t think I’m wrong.

Otherwise, it’s very good, I think.

A couple of quibbles: I think I’d change the “sticky, sweltering” to the particular Tuesday in August, because I know for an absolute fact that not all of August is going to be “sticky and sweltering” in northern Michigan (and even in Connecticut). In fact, toward the end of the month every morning and most evenings will have a nip at the least, and at times be downright chilly.

bob_'s avatar

“Energetic electrons” sounds funny.

absalom's avatar

I think it’s pretty bad and if I were to open a book and read this I would probably put the book down or, in lieu of that, continue to read for a laugh.

sticky, sweltering vast, rocky, cedar-lined northern northwestern atmospheric wild energetic red and green dance of orgasmic release dark waters tiny travelers from the Sun make love to the outermost inhabitants of the Earth in glorious auroral ecstasy I’m done

Neither ‘sticky’ nor ‘sweltering’ nor their nearly redundant combination describes August in an original way.

‘Vast… expanse’ is also redundant. Who would mistake ‘expanse of beach’ for something narrow or limited?

One does not gaze downward into the sky. One pretty much always gazes upward when one is looking at the sky. So ‘upward’ is also unnecessary.

How can atoms ‘smash with’ electrons and also ‘collide with’ electrons? (What does it mean to ‘smash with’ something? Did the author mean ‘smash into’? If so, why say ‘smash into’ when ‘collide with’ is already there?)

@bob_ is very right about ‘energetic electrons’. This is where I kind of laughed and where it became manifest that the author simply attached adjectives almost thoughtlessly to nouns that didn’t need adjectival description in the first place. Similarly with ‘wild’: are electrons ever tame? How does ‘electrons’ benefit from these modifiers?

So we have atoms and electrons ‘smashing with’ and ‘colliding with’ and now ‘erupting’ into a ‘dance of red and green orgasmic release,’ which to be honest sounds like a hell of a Christmas party and not at all like something a reader is supposed to take seriously.

It’s all over once the author writes ‘tiny travelers from the Sun,’ mostly because the overblown scene she’s just attempted to paint is immediately diminished. Undermined. Rendered kind of laughable. To call electrons ‘tiny travelers’ is just cloying. The same for ‘outermost inhabitants of the Earth,’ although less so, and even ‘make love’ is vapid compared to the cosmic and somewhat scientific language of the earlier part.

In general the use of adjectives is very amateurish. One cannot simply list them before their noun. It’s repetitive: ‘sticky, sweltering’ whatever; ‘vast, rocky, cedar-lined’ whatever; ‘wild energetic’ whatever; et cetera. This paragraph looks like an almost arbitrary list of adjectives, sterilely put in a series and separated with commas before having uninteresting nouns dropped in. It is allowable to say something like ‘The rocky expanse of beach was lined with cedars,’ instead of piling up modifiers in front of ‘beach’.

I think the author has just like thrown the prose onto the page. The method evident in this paragraph is tactless and overly direct and it kind of bludgeons me with curiously sexualized images. In the end I don’t know whether to laugh or to masturbate. Which for all we know is what the woman on the beach is doing, considering how she rather rudely and voyeuristically spectates this whole cosmic Christmas fuckfest thing.

everephebe's avatar

Well said @absalom. Harsh but undeniably true. As a piece of prose, I found it…. quite lacking. As an email, the issues could slide (possibly).

What @absalom says is well thought out, and helpful if you consider a rewrite.

Jude's avatar

Again, thanks for your honesty.

ratboy's avatar

Minor edit: On a dark and stormy Tuesday night….

cazzie's avatar

How about this:

She sat alone looking at the night sky as the evening chill of the late summer began to surround her. The stillness of the beach calmed her mind and released her from the images that had been obsessively entering her mind.

The stars shone bright in the uninterrupted expanse and she thought she could see mist in the air, but it brightened and began to dance. She squinted. The sky to the north lit up with green and white streaks; A gift from the sun named after the Greek Goddess of the Dawn, Aurora. ‘She must have been beautiful,’ she thought to herself. Her calm now gone and her skin prickling, as if the light itself were touching her softly. She was back were she started, thinking about the girl.

Silly? Not prose, but the beginning of a 2nd rate romance novel, perhaps. Sorry if I’ve taken too much liberty here…

CyanoticWasp's avatar

A lot of @absalom‘s criticisms are valid, and, at least for @absalom, reason enough not to like the piece.

I still like it for the attempt at poetry in prose. I don’t think it’s anywhere near finished, and it could still benefit from paying attention to some of that (and other) criticism. I still like what it’s trying to do.

Sunny2's avatar

Writing, like any art, may appeal (or not) to different individuals. I personally think this is bad writing and letters above explain why better than I could. However, this is written by your SO, so you’re not the one to tell him(her) it’s bad. You just say, “Wow, that’s really something! You really have a way with words! Why don’t you take a class in writing and put your talent to work?” You can pick out some of the images depicted as ones you like best. Encouragement of any talent is a good thing. You never know what may develop.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

For all you critics, just relax, let yourself go and let the image wash over you. And wish someone thought about you like that.

bob_'s avatar

@Adirondackwannabe She did ask for honest opinions…

Jude's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Thanks.

@all, I’m cool with it. :) I wanted honesty.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@bob_ I’m okay with it all. I was just struck by it personally. I liked it, others didn’t, that’s fine. I like diversity. It makes the world go around.

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