Description – Motion in description
Note: This is a craftbook entry from 2001 that was refered to in the original coursework that was to become tOFP. I realized while going through the site that it had been deleted during the conversion to tOFP, so I’m putting it up here to restore the example.
Many of the best descriptions I’ve come across depend in part on motion. The author takes what otherwise might have been a static moment and finds a way to animate it. For instance:
“We walked through a high hallway into a bright rosy-colored space, fragilely bound into the house by French windows at either end. The windows were ajar and gleaming white against the fresh grass outside that seemed to grow a little way into the house. A breeze blew through the room, blew curtains in at one end and out the other like pale flags, twisting them up toward the frosted wedding-cake of the ceiling, and then rippled over the wine-colored rug, making a shadow on it as wind does on the sea.
The only completely stationary object in the room was an enormous couch on which two young women were buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon. They were both in white, and their dressed were rippling and fluttering as if they’d just been blown back in after a short flight around the house. I must have stood for a few moments listening to the whip and snap of the curtains and the groan of the picture on the wall. Then there was a boom as Tom Buchanan shut the rear windows and the caught wind died out about the room, and the curtains and the rugs and the two young women ballooned slowly to the floor.”
–F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby
Here, Fitzgerald, takes an element of the scene–the wind–and allows his narrator’s imagination to play with it, to drive how he sees the scene, and creates this airy, swirling room.
And this example:
“Near the window, hidden by the dark, he felt the irritability of the day drain from him and he relished the effortless beauty of the women singing in the candlelight. Reba’s soft profile, Hagar’s hands moving, moving in her heavy hair, and Pilate. He knew her face better than he knew his own. Singing now, her face would be a mask; all emotion and passion would have left her features and entered her voice. But he knew that when she was neither singing nor talking, her face was animated by her constantly moving lips. She chewed things. As a baby, as a very young girl, she kept things in her mouth–straw from brooms, gristle, buttons, seeds, leaves, string, and her favorite, when he could find some for her, rubber bands and India rubber erasers. Her lips were alive with small movements. If you were close up to her, you wondered if she was about to smile or was she merely shifting a straw from the baseline of her gums to her tongue. Perhaps she was dislodging a curl of rubber band from inside her cheek, or was she really smiling? From a distance she appeared to be whispering to herself, when she was only nibbling or splitting tiny seeds with her front teeth. Her lips were darker than her skin, wine-stained, blueberry-dyed, so her face had a cosmetic look–as though she had applied a very dark lipstick neatly and blotted away its shine on a scrap of newspaper.”
Song of Solomon