Description Exercise– Part 1

This is an exercise I got from The Fiction Writer’s Workshop, by Josip Novakovich.  The idea is to practice prose by writing two sets of descriptions.  This is the first set, which is to take mundane objects and describe them in an extraordinary manner.

It reflects silver and white whatever approaches it.  The reflections themselves are long, and mostly red—the white skirts across the images, almost causing them to fade completely.  The white reduces reflections to ghost, distorts them further.  The reflections are long because the object which captures them is long and rounded—it stands as an imperfect cylinder.  Its top slides inward to its plateaued top; the bottom pulls into the slightly narrower base in the same way.  The writing on its sides runs both vertically and horizontally.  Some of the letters flow free and curved—others are restricted by their box shape, if they aren’t in a box (which some of them are).  It’s these restricted, measured words that can potentially unlock the secrets of the nectar which the object contains.  The words reveal that this object is but a receptacle to a greater, more powerful secret.  To access this secret, one must pierce the top of the receptacle using an affixed key—the key itself vaguely resembles the sign of infinity, the number “8.”  The secret is not nectar, but rather a drink.  It is a drink, yes, but a drink that tastes of insanity yet comfort.  A drink that is dead, but writhes and boils in the mouth and forms rapids down the throat.  The drink is cold, yet it bubbles and boils—boils without burning.  If left to sit in its opened receptacle, it drains of this fantastic energy.  The cold boil grows warm, and it grows flat.  The energy will be gone from it.

This can tame the mane of chaos.  It is small, seemingly weak, but it can fly through the greatest disasters, wave through the greatest tangled fury, face and break the ties of opposition, and straighten madness into order.  Anyone who grips its handle can wield it.  Facing out from its base, at least a hundred sentinels stand tall and strong.  These sentinels can break obstacles, yet are much too flexible to be broken when they face an opponent stronger than themselves.  They move like palm trees, or the limbs of a great sea monster—strong but flexible, straight but not so much to break.  Usually.  On occasion, a sentinel thinks a knot of adversary is not so strong as it is.  The sentinel pushes against it, continues to push when it should fall back and come at it with renewed force.  Instead, one part of the enemy gives while the other part stays obstinate, and pulled both ways, so abruptly, the sentinel snaps in half, uprooted form its base, to be lost in the chaos, until it’s plucked free.

It is the most neutral face you’ll ever see.  It is the most equal giver to give.  It watches the time, and distributes it.  It will not allow you to return the gift you wasted.  Some people beg it for more, others beg it to stop giving.  Some ask it to hurry in the giving, others ask that it slow down.  But it only clucks its tongue in disapproval, and continues giving to all equally, at the same pace, never stopping.

The first paragraph describes a coke can, the second a hairbrush, the third a clock.


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