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01 July 2008 @ 03:40 pm
"Heavy"  
So I've somehow managed to write something before the absolute last possible second before the deadline.  Hell hath frozen over, my friends.

Here's my entry for the first topic at brigits_flame, the prompt for which is the word "heavy."


The air of the cramped workroom is almost tangibly thick with smoke and the tingle of old magic—magic, perhaps, that should never have been disturbed.  Thick candles ooze beads of wax, their fat cylinders huddled in conspiratorial clusters on every available surface.  Trails of smoke wind their way to the ceiling, dancing around their brethren, twining and twirling to the rhythm of the hiss of the guttering flames.  Beneath it all runs the quiet sizzle of a spell waiting to ignite.

Slender white spider’s-leg fingers light on jars and vials, cracked nails scraping softly over fading labels with curling corners, and pale eyes flicker over letters that coil like nautilus shells, lines in the language of scholars long since dead and dust.  The fingers begin to tremble, which they have been wont to do of late.  The boy clenches them tightly, gritting his teeth, until the shaking stops, and then he waves a wisp of candle smoke from his face and plucks an ostensibly unremarkable bottle from the shelf.

Bloated books crumbling even here give perches to candles that cast their fragile orange interest over the boy’s ivory hands.  As he mixes, modulates, combines, and distills, his mouth gives shape to words that shouldn’t have the luxury of form, and under his reedy voice there rumbles something old, something dark, something altogether unnatural.  Something that stirs the shadows to whispering.

The air weighs on the boy’s shoulders, hot and arid, heavy like the burden of truth—heavy like the pressure of a secret behind sealed lips, heavy like the thinly-stretched silence of the thirteenth hour.

But not as heavy as the guilt.

 
 
Feeling: artisticartistic
 
 
 
Bootlerbootler on July 2nd, 2008 06:01 pm (UTC)
I like the use of colour in this - "fragile orange interest". Very visual.
Vitamin Ctierfal on July 3rd, 2008 08:02 am (UTC)
Thank you! That phrase in particular was one of my favorites. :)
richelle2972richelle2972 on July 2nd, 2008 06:10 pm (UTC)
That was really cool. If only I could understand the context and what is going on... XP I'm tired. I don't understand anything that is not explicitly stated. Forgive me. I'll try reading it again when I'm a little more awake...
Vitamin Ctierfal on July 3rd, 2008 08:02 am (UTC)
Aha, I have foiled you... Unfortunately, there is no context whatsoever, because I am a loser this way. I kind of wanted to write something utterly unconnected to anything, and I had an image in my head, so I just went at it. There's a great deal of Nightrunner influence, of course, because Nightrunner is an illegal drug and all, but other than that, it stands entirely by itself. x)
OoO~Stuck in the Stars~OoOmusicrocks987 on July 3rd, 2008 05:37 pm (UTC)
Very good!
You can defintely see all the imagery in it.
Very well detailed!

Best Of Luck!

OoO~Stuck in the Stars~OoO
Vitamin Ctierfal on July 3rd, 2008 10:23 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm very glad that you enjoyed it. :D
Your favourite half-light.ebeda on July 5th, 2008 12:32 am (UTC)
I absolutely love this piece. It has a very arcane feel to it.
Vitamin Ctierfal on July 5th, 2008 08:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks! That's exactly what I was going for. ^____^
lionteethlionteeth on July 5th, 2008 07:35 pm (UTC)
your editor:
You created a very distinct atmosphere in this piece, and with a few tweaks, I think it can be even stronger!

[1] I like the juxtaposition of the “cramped” and “thick” descriptions in the first paragraph with the “slender white spider’s-leg fingers.”

[2] The boy clenches them tightly, gritting his teeth, until the shaking stops, and then he waves..
[suggestion:] I would remove the comma after “teeth.” “And then” also interrupts your narration. It’s also simply telling, not transitioning in some more interesting way. Consider this or a similar alternative: The boy clenches them tightly, gritting his teeth until the shaking stops, before waving a wisp of candle smoke from his face and plucking…”

[3]…plucks an ostensibly unremarkable bottle from the shelf.
[suggestion:] Something about “ostensibly” in this sentence / paragraph doesn’t feel right with the flow. I would omit it, and just leave the bottle as “unremarkable.”

[4]Bloated books crumbling even here…
[suggestion:] I know with “bloated” you’re probably looking to reinforce the “heavy” theme, but I would choose a different adjective. When I think bloated, something plump and moist comes to mind. Having the books be “bloated” and “crumbling” (dry, brittle, old) seems like a contradiction.

[5] candles that cast their fragile orange interest over the boy’s ivory hands.
[suggestion:] I love the ____ orange interest phrase, but do not think that “fragile” works here. In the first paragraph you call the candles “conspiratorial,” so why not pick a more sinister adjective here to agree with the previous image?

[6] But not as heavy as the guilt.
[suggestion:] This sentence reads as a strange ending for the rest of the piece. You haven’t – up until this point – described the boy’s emotions, only his actions, and this hasty inclusion of “guilt” is confusing. Is the boy experiencing guilt? Why? The place has old, undisturbed magic, and might be better off left alone, but how does that correlate to his sudden guilt? A detail or two about the boy’s motive for being there, or what he plans to do with the books would help to better enmesh this emotion into the piece.


I hope this helps you!
Vitamin Ctierfal on July 5th, 2008 08:40 pm (UTC)
Re: your editor:
Wow!! Thank you for a very excellent and detailed critique! I think you definitely hit the nail on the head with a lot of this, especially number 4, and you bring up an excellent point with 6 as well -- I tend to have a clearer idea of what's going on in my head, but I often forget to state it as explicitly as might be necessary.

Anyways... I'm still amazed at how right on this is. Thanks again!
aisling87: kabukitataisling87 on July 7th, 2008 05:25 am (UTC)
Hello. I am your secondary editor for this round. If you'd like to find out a bit about my editing style you may do so here.

I also think you have some very nice imagery here. I was especially fond of "their fat cylinders huddled in conspiratorial clusters on every available surface" and the "fragile orange interest" line.

I did notice one line that I'd like you to comtemplate a little bit. The phrase "scholars long since dead and dust" is a little redundant. I don't think you need the word "dead" because it's already implied in the word "dust." It goes along with the idea of showing instead of telling, since "dust" is more visual. Of course, this is only a very small detail, but still something I think you should consider.

I think this sentence is a little awkward: "Bloated books crumbling even here give perches to candles that cast their fragile orange interest over the boy’s ivory hands." The words "even here" make it hard for me to follow. They break the rhythm of the sentence.

I also wondered about the sudden introduction of guilt at the end. i think I was a little unprepared for it because I didn't notice the boy acting guilty. I even wondered if maybe the guilt was connected to something that happened before this scene.

I really enjoyed this entry. You created such a unique world with great images. Thanks for sharing!

Vitamin Ctierfal on July 7th, 2008 05:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It's pretty rare in the other circles I run in to get a genuine critique, and these are very helpful. :)

Interesting point about "dead and dust" -- you're right that I hadn't even really considered that, though I think I had a faint inkling that it was a bit unnecessary. I also think you're quite right about the awkward sentence, and the conclusion as well.

Thanks for your help!!