Thursday 18 April 2013

The Natural Detective

The rotten almonds on this tree tell the story: the winter was long and wet; torrential rains bore down even in early spring. How do we know? The nuts are still clinging fast to the branch. The moisture that holds them fast has not been dried by the sun, which would allow them to drop. The blossom is dedraggled, battered by showers and wind; it should have been out weeks ago.
I've always enjoyed the narrative suggested by observation. On a basic level, it is purely journalistic, providing realistic detail to give richness to the story. Taken a step further, it is Pathetic Fallacy, as defined by Rushkin, "expressions of external things" which are related - in an unreal or exaggerated way - to human emotion and circumstances. I used a great deal of it in The Lantern to suggest an enclosed world where reality and imagination merged.
Here, for example, the soggy black almonds could also be described as "sad". Clearly the inanimate nuts have no emotion; the sadness would be a reflection of the state of mind of a character in the narrative. Perhaps the most satisfying use of these subtle metaphors occurs when the attribution works equally well for nature and human nature, as might be the case for making the blossom "vulnerable".   
Apprentice writers seem to enjoy the challenge of 'writing prompts'. I can't think of any better writing prompt than simply to go outside with a keen eye and look. The more you do so, the more you see that all the clues are there in nature.  


Shelley said...

Excellent advice Deborah. I find so much inspiration when I'm just out walking.

Shelley said...
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