10 thoughts on “MARGARET CREMER: White

  1. I think it is quite OK to use gentle words to describe the aftermath of a violent scene etc. It can be done to create tension between the words and what’s being told. I also think this is a good effect, but it’s always a case of ‘horses for courses’ – what appeals to one person may not appeal to someone else.

    The only problem I could find was the collocation of ‘innocent’ and ‘ivory’ with (snow) ‘flakes’ For me this combination had a jarring effect. A quick Google search revealed innocent ivory most popularly described an eye-shadow pigment.

  2. When I wrote about weak words, I wasn’t referring to gentle words, but words with diminished impact. Words such as “fell to cover,” “I lay ,” “cold earth,” “I knew if I just laid,” and “I was .”

    My comment regarding passive does not refer to the familiar “passive voice” but what I read as a story about snow falling and not the distress of someone laying naked (presumably following a gruesome attack) in the snow.

    Nowhere did I read of her (presumably) pain or anguish of her attack. It lacked emotion and its tone could easily be that of someone on a park enjoying the snow fall on a pleasant day.

    So, lets look at the first para:

    “Crystallized flakes fell to cover the crimson ground. I lay naked and shivering on the cold earth. I could feel the icy white snow on my body.”

    The impact scene in this is the “Lay naked and shivering.” but then it is on the “cold earth” How about “frigid pavement” or something more descriptive?

    ” I could feel the icy white snow on my body.” – OK, what did it feel like? Did It numb the pain from the attack, wash the shame from her body. Certainly that scene is worth more than “snow on my body.”

    Ten writers can offer ten takes on the scene, here is the first one I wrote with emphasis on the victim, not the snow, hopefully to demonstrate my comments:

    ..

    Naked and shivering on the icy pavement, I smelled and tasted my blood as it pooled around my face. The piling snow comforted my injuries like mother’s downy blanket and soothed the pain of his fists. I prayed the cold would numb my memory, and I would fear no more.

    Jeff

    1. Interesting feedback, Jeff. I can see where you’re coming from.

      Myself, I think the approach Margaret took was really effective specifically because there is so little emphasis on whatever event happened. It’s hardly mentioned. To me, I get the vibe of an out-of-body detachment, like the character is forfeiting her attachment to her physical body. And that’s exactly what the story is about, I think.

      Definitely a great story for generating discussion!

      1. Powerful story Jeff, I felt as though your story was set in a prison yard, but it is not her story. I see the victim in Margaret’s story as feeling hollow and empty inside after her ordeal – almost on autopilot, emotionless to a certain degree and only able to describe things around her in gentle (‘passive’ if you prefer) descriptive terms, which is powerful in its own way. Everything doesn’t have to be a hard sell in order to be good!

        There was ‘pain’ in her story, in spades, but you couldn’t read it. It was the act of blanking almost everything out. Sometimes it’s what you don’t write that makes a piece of writing more powerful, leaving spaces or gaps so the readers can fill them in for themselves.

        It has become a pleasure to read your comments Jeff. Great discussion. The prison story was good too.

        1. Hi Connell – thank you for taking my comments in the spirit they were intended. It was not my initial goal to rewrite the story but the more I dug, the deeper the hole.

          I think it likely most of my comments are based on a different style of writing. For me, FF has to have an immediate impact, especially in such a short format as 50 words.

          Perhaps Margaret would care to join the discussion?

          And to anyone else following this, thank you for your patience.

          Jeff

          1. Hi everyone. I really don’t like reading comments on my work because I’m so affected by criticism but I”m trying to be more receptive to the opinions of others and not take it so personally. When I wrote the story it is about the aftermath of an attack but that’s not where I wanted the focus to lie. Due to the abuse she suffered she decided to let herself die by snowstorm. I was trying to contrast the purity of the snow as it was being used as a weapon. Maybe I didn’t write it very well. But I appreciate everyone’s feedback. Thank you.

  3. Hi Margaret, I don’t think anyone was criticising you personally. It was certainly not my intention and I apologize if any of my comments hurt you.

    I think Lit 101 informed my view of writing in so much as once written the text stands on its own merits. The writer becomes immaterial as to any intended mean. The text itself communicates directly to the reader. In a sense it is not about you anymore so you don’t need to worry about making your point clear if interpretations differ from what you originally meant to convey. During the act of reading the readers ascribe meaning to what they read (It feels like déjà vu all over again writing this) meaning a text can be interpreted in more than one way so I wouldn’t worry about our interpretations not being aligned with yours although now I can see what you meant. Even so I still prefer my initial interpretations of it. For me multiple meanings/interpretations are a source of fascination, but I also realise that others might disagree with that point of view.

    I thought your story worked well. Write us some more.

  4. Hi Margaret. For what it’s worth, I read your story exactly the way you just described it, and I thought it worked really well for that purpose. But as Connell pointed out, different people will interpret things in different ways, and that’s okay!

    If your story had not been well written and interesting, I don’t think it would have been worth all this discussion. :)

  5. Given all the discussion, I stand by my original comment.

    I have posted at numerous sites and have had my backside handed to me on numerous occasions on a not-so silver platter. And each time I learned from others’ comments.

    Today when I post anywhere online I look forward to finding out if what I have written has a weakness (s). I think that is how we grow as writers. I don’t want to write a year from now the same way I write today. I get nothing from other sites which verge on being mutual admiration societies.

    i guess I apparently am in a minority.

    Best wishes to all for continued successful writing.

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