Books can be like movies in your head. When I read, I don't see words on a page (well, not when I'm reading for pleasure), I see images, characters, places.
I can get lost in the woods, or stuck on the subway, without ever leaving my bedroom. Imagery helps. But an onomatopoeia scattered here and there makes sound come alive with a flair all its own.
I hear the wind rustling the leaves, or the clock ticking beat by beat, or the soft purr of a tabby in the sun. I see and hear what the page paints for me in my mind's eye.
What do you hear in these passages, the first sans onomatopoetic words, and the second littered with them:
Thunder resonated in the distance. The dark clouds congregated ahead. A twister was brewing. I could feel it forming. I opened the pen and the horses ran to freedom. Their hoof beats, soft steps melting perfectly into a fresh crescendo of rolling thunder above.
Thunder rumbled in the distance. The dark clouds congregated ahead. A twister was brewing. I could feel it forming. I opened the pen and the horses galloped to freedom. Their hoof beats, soft thuds melting perfectly into a fresh crescendo of rumbles, booms and a climactic crack above.
I'll take the onomatopoeia please.
Sarah aka Reagan
Thursday, June 16, 2011
The morning sun rose red over the horizon. The vast white sparkled blindingly under the early rays. Ronn shielded his eyes as he looked toward it. The snow had stopped this morning making the watch easier. Frenna could see the white landscape for miles. She scratched behind her Polar bear’s ears as she steered the animal away from the sun.
“What’s that?” Ronn’s deep voice caused Frenna to turn her bear in his direction. She slapped her legs against the sides of the white animal and it bounded toward Ronn. She let her eyes scan the snow. A small dark lump sat atop the shimmering ice crystals.
“Hmm. A rock?”
“The snow hasn’t gone down.” Ronn looked at her incredulously.
“Then we check it out. It’s what we’re here for.” Frenna smiled at him before coaxing her white bear into a trot. Ronn followed.
Frenna dropped to the ground, icy shards, warmed by the sun shattered beneath her feet as she landed. Ronn went nearly knee deep when he dismounted his huge bear. Frenna strapped on her wide-soled shoes and headed toward the small mound on the snow. Ronn’s longer stride reached it first.
“What is it?” He leaned closer to the small bundle. It moved. Frenna stepped closer. Her hand reached and touched the coarse-haired covering and moved it aside. A small pink form nestled in the thick, woolen blanket.
“It’s a baby.” She picked up the bundle and cradled it in her arms, automatically rocking the small form.
“A baby?” Ronn looked over her shoulder. “It’s not covered in hair. And it’s pink!” He looked at his own shimmering blue arms, then back at the baby in disgust.
Frenna smirked. “But otherwise it looks like a baby.” She looked back at Ronn. His face showed reluctance in his agreement.
Frenna cradled the baby close to her as she jumped from her polar bear tossing it a piece of frozen meat. She headed almost sadly toward the small, stone building. She stopped to coo at the baby before she went in. She would probably have to leave her here. And she was already becoming attached. Her elder had said it would be best to take the baby before it took hold of her. But her elder had sensed it was already too late for Frenna. Her mothering instinct had already begun, and she had even felt the flow of milk in her chest.
Frenna stepped inside the small building and shed her think coat. The fire in the fireplace heated the room. She had never been to a temple. The stone walls were warm somehow, and fires blazed in small crevices in the walls every few steps. But only on the top floor. Frenna looked to the center of the room where the bannister encircled the gaping hole. The gateway to the under-levels. Many buildings had under-levels; stories that went down, beneath the snow. Most of them only kept a small, hidden tunnel leading to the under-levels. But here, in the temple, they were celebrated. The bannister adored with candles and covered in gold; a substance so precious Frenna had never seen it.
A sister approached her.
“What would you like us to pray for?” She asked.
“I didn’t come for that.” Frenna stared back at the meek woman. “I came because my town elder said to bring you this.”
The woman peered into the woolen blanket and gasped. Sisters flocked around her all peering in murmuring in whispers. Frenna heard ‘naked baby’ and ‘prophecy’ and her mouth went dry.
"What’s going on?” She asked the sisters. They all stopped and stared at her.
“You found the baby?” One sister asked. Frenna nodded.
“Then you must take it to Icedawn.” She pointed to the center of the room. All the sisters pointed to the center of the room. The hole. Frenna blinked.
“You’ll need this.” One sister handed her coat back. “You are going to the ground.”
The ground? Frenna had heard that there was a solid ground under the snow. A flat slate of ice that all the snow sat atop. The eyes of all the sisters followed her as she stepped toward the gaping hole in the floor. A staircase descended into the pit. Candles lit the way down for what looked like an eternity. Clutching the baby close she descended the stairs. Each level down looked similar to the last, only colder; forgotten. The windows on each level showed only snow and ice.
The cold constricted Frenna’s breathing as she continued her descent. Finally the candles stopped. The rooms grew darker, and the cold felt alive as it stirred with her movement. She clutched the babe closer and headed toward the soft glow of light beneath her.
She finally reached the ground. The spark of candles contrasting the dark of the small room. The floor under her legs was slippery. Ice. She wished she’d put her spikes on.
A high backed chair, surrounded by candles, swiveled around, grating on the ice floor. Icedawn. She rose gracefully and glided over to Frenna, towering over her. Her pale bluish skin glittered like the snow. Frenna’s skin didn’t glitter without sun.
“You are not one of my maids.” The female said. Her voice was like a song; it echoed in the cavern.
“No. I am Frenna.”
“Frenna. What brings you to my throne room?”
“The baby.” She said.
The female’s eyes grew. “Baby? An Ice Baby?” Icedawn’s voice changed slightly.
“No. It isn’t blue, and it was born hairless.”
“The naked baby.” The female said with a hint of melancholy. Frenna opened the wool only enough for the tall woman to peer in. “The prophecy fulfilled.” She whispered. “You found her?” She asked. “And have you named her?”
Frenna could feel herself blush, the coolness rushed to her cheeks. “I call her Found.”
“Ah. You are much like me then. I called the first one Foundation.”
“Foundation was your baby?” Frenna’s eyes grew frantically wide. Foundation was the mother of their race.
“No. I found her.” Icedawn actually smiled. Ruefully. “You must take her away from here.” Icedawn’s long sigh made Frenna feel sad. “She will begin the new world.”
“This one is ending. I must get you to safety.” The female tried to usher her toward the black abyss of the room. Frenna startled.
“If the world is ending, we should tell the others.” Frenna moved back toward the staircase suddenly wondering how she would climb back up such an incline.
“There is no time.”
“There must be. I will—“
“Tell me Frenna, can you swim?”
“Swim? I don’t know what that means.”
“It means that everything you know will be buried under water.”
“Water?” Only fire could make water. “Everything? That is absurd! The whole of our world is ice and snow. There is nothing hot enough to turn everything to water.”
“But there is.” The ice beneath their feet cracked. Frenna panicked, wanting nothing more now, than to save the baby. “Now, take the child and climb into that hole. It will take you to the depths of the sea. A place that has been prepared for you.” Icedawn looked phlegmatically toward Frenna.
“What could be strong enough, hot enough, to melt the entire ice kingdom?”
Icedawn looked at her with those placid eyes. A small heat hit them. “My former lover. He is returning. Together we will crack open the world. ”
Monday, June 13, 2011
Have you ever tasted a good book?
Maybe it’s because I’m a synesthete that tasting words is such a powerful metaphor to me, but I feel like other people must know what I am talking about; connection. What is it that draws us into a story within just a few lines? I mean what is it that carries through in those first sentences that resonates to some piece of our very core and snatches our undivided attention—makes us feel that we have, no need, to read the whole story?
I wish I knew. I wish I could duplicate it every time I put my fingers to the keyboard. The feeling, the reality, the mood all come so alive in the first few phrases that we are there, a part of it; invested.
What creates the investment? I used to think it was enough to have such a passion for your work that others would sense it through your words; but I was wrong. It is an ingredient, but not enough. Words help. The right words.
A powerful tool whether we taste them or not, words create a picture. Amazing right--that human imagination should be tied so vibrantly to concrete symbols. But organized artfully words can create not only pictures, but emotion. Beat. Life. Words are not just the heart of a story, but the soul too—the spine of our investment.