Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Sentence Struggles

Sorry for my absence from blogging, but traveling kept me busy and also away from my resvision. Now back in the warmth of Dubai I find I need to reaquaint myself with A Cornish House to find the flow again (I had reached page 251 of 391). As always I found mistakes and tweaked a few sentences, but all was going well until eight lines from the end of the chapter. One sentence - one key sentence just didn't say what I wanted it too. Now this particular sentence and I had wrestled several times before - word by word. I thought I had nailed it but no.

For readers unfamiliar with the story in this chapter we have Maddie arriving for the first time at a house she has inherited from a distant relative. She is a grieving widow with a bolshy teenage step-daughter. Most important fact for me in this sentence is that she is an artist.

Here's today's starting version in bold:

She needed a plan, but didn't know where to begin anymore. How could life once be so clear and now so opaque? As she entered the kitchen, her eyes fell on the massive window that dominated one end of the room. It's hand-blown glass offered an alternative vision of the view through each pane.

Through each one of its hand-blown panes an alternative vision of the scenery beyond was framed.

Each pane of hand blown glass framed an alternative vision of the scenery beyond.

Its hand-blown panes framed an alternative vision of the scenery beyond.

None of them quite captures what I want. I guess I need to leave it and move on for now. Hopefully the old unconscious will resolve it or maybe one of you has a solution???? (and yes, Susie, I know I am thinking too much :-) )


Glynis said...

As she entered the kitchen, her eyes fell on the massive window that dominated one end of the room. Each pane was made up of hand blown glass. She looked through each one, and they shared with her an alternate vision of the scenery beyond.

:) Hope you work through it.

liz fenwick said...

Thanks Glynis, I like your take on it.

Graeme K Talboys said...

each pane offered a variant perspective on the scenery beyond

Rick said...

I admire your craftsmanship, Liz. Don't listen when anyone tells you your over-thinking. You're a writer, and what you put down will survive you by many years, so make it a reflection of the time you think it deserves. But I suspect you already know that.
Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I hate to tell you this but flat glass panes are rolled, not blown. Unless you're talking about those circular whirly effects that are sometimes added as decoration?

Having said that, I prefer your third version: Each pane of hand blown glass framed an alternative vision of the scenery beyond. It indicates more clearly that there are several different panes/alternatives rather than just one.

liz fenwick said...

Graeme - variant perspective...hmmm...could be the words i'm seeking.

Thanks Rick - it's good to hear the words even if I know them :-)

Capt. B - important points... the glass and the comment on the sentence. Now off to google tudor glass making techniques.......


Debs said...

I also preferred the third sentence, "Each pane of hand blown glass..."

It's a pain when a sentence refuses to gel.

Graeme K Talboys said...

Early window glass did involve glass-blowing, a bubble rolled to make a cylinder that was snipped and flattened before it cooled (I worked in a museum that had examples of the first stained glass ever produced in a church in this country - Jarrow). Techniques were pretty much the same in Tudor times although glass working was more sophisticated, producing finer glass. It still distorts the view and will have bubbles and other imperfections. Bottle glass windows come a bit later as far as I recall and those bits (the part that had been attached to the blowing tube) were cheaper than the smoother sections.

cs harris said...

Yes, definitely time to move on! Sometimes I find all it takes is a few days breather, and the thought I was looking for suddenly becomes clear and easy to grasp.

liz fenwick said...

Graeme - brilliant. You explained it much better than the dozens of website I plowed through. Huge thanks.

Debs- I think the third does work best...but it's just not right.

CS - I have decided to leave it until this edit is finished which should give it enough time to rumble around in my head.

All your comments have helped tremendously - I still can't pull it out of the fog in my head (jet lag maybe?) but I know it's there as I can see the scene so clearly.


Julie Cohen said...

Make it simple and easy and yet more profound, maybe?

Each irregular pane framed a different version of the world.

It seems like you want a description of the irregular glass, and also a metaphor for different points of view in the story. Keep it simple and as punchy as you can so it doesn't get lost in swirling vocabulary.

But style is something that can't be copied or taught, so go with your gut. Your writer's ear will tell you what to do.