Agents and folks in the writing/publishing biz tell wanna-be authors to learn their craft, to learn the magic of words, plot, and voice!
They also suggest reading lots of books in your genre. Well, I can tell you there’s a VAST Grand Canyon-size difference between just reading a novel AND breaking it down to understand the nuances employed by the author to create tone, imagery, allusion, irony, motif and symbol.
Below is an example from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.
Let’s break it down!
- Red font indicates words with a violent connotation or violent diction. Most of them begin with “s.”
- Bolded words have been repeated. (3xs makes it a motif). single=4x; leg=3xs; afraid=2x; numbness=3x. The word “single” emphasizes Montag’s one chance to escape.. his life–his freedom–boiling down to this one critical moment in time. It’s now or never! He only gets one shot at changing his life!
- Green highlights indicate numerical specificity. Used here, we see exactly how far and how fast.
- Pink font are words related to flowers! How fabulous that Bradbury uses the language of flowers to describe fire in a violent scene! Why does he do that? Is it to show readers the character’s “blossoming” intellectual awakening? Is it to reveal the beauty in destroying a mechanism of the dystopia? Is it to put in stark contrast the natural growth vs natural destruction OR nature vs machine?
- Purple font are words that are rife with imagery: spidered, curled, metal bones, flushing, hurtling, fiddle, hallowed—we “see” these words. >>>>Did you notice all the colors used in the paragraph?
- Yellow highlight is a wonderful simile with symbolic, foreshadowing, and visual ZING! >>>>The skyrocket might symbolize 1) Montag’s own intelligence being grounded by the dystopia; 2) the new light of understanding sizzling within him; 3) the ironic & fiery beauty of destroying an intellectually crippling society. >>>>The skyrocket also foreshadows the bombs that will destroy the city in the next chapter.
- Circled words show the symbolic progression of the mechanical police dog, known as the Hound! Notice the progression from metal dog (a living beast) to Hound (its official name) to thing! Brilliant! The mechanism no longer has power over Montag–and it also foreshadows and mimics the collapse of the dystopia.
- Pale green font indicates a oxymoron, Dead alive. (A symbolic punch, folks, and accurate descriptor for most of the characters in the novel.)
- Blue highlight brings to light the fabulous use of ellipses! In this case, a sense of the uncertainty… of time passing…what will Montag do next…an example of his own mental numbness…
Did I forget anything??
Word magic! Gotta love it!
And that, I think, is just part of knowing your craft!
~~~**~~~**~~~**Have fun writing word magic**~~~**~~~**~~~
Related Links: Rock Your Writing