for writers and readers….

CAPTURING THE QUIET MOMENTS… examples of good writing

figures of speechI’ve come across three figures of speech that I like very much and thought I would share because of their gentle, soft quality. It’s easy to be dramatic. It’s much harder to capture the smaller moments
The first is from the poet Ezra Pound (who I admit isn’t a personal favourite, but I do like this).

And the days are not full enough
And the nights are not full enough
And life slips by like a field mouse
Not shaking the grass

The idea of something NOT happening is arresting, isn’t it? What else might not happen…a hand no longer raised in anger but the fear remains, the light of recognition gone from an elderly relative’s eyes, a key no longer turning in the front door at 7 O’Clock…any of these could be the start of/or part of a poem or a story or a passage of writing that might turn out to be anything….

The image of a door and lock leads me to a line from To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. A mother slowly closes the children’s bedroom door. so slowly that  “the tongue of the door slowly lengthens in the lock.” You can feel how gently that door is closed, how carefully the handle turned so the children won’t wake. Good writing is about being there.

The last one comes from the New Zealand short story writer Katherine Mansfield who was a friend of Virginia Woolf. Here a girl is listening to her grandmother in bed saying her prayers last thing at night:

‘a long, soft whispering, as though someone was gently, gently rustling among tissue paper to find something.’


Have you come across a line or an image that struck you – made you feel you were in the scene or sent the hairs at the back of your neck stand up?

This post came from my August newsletter – if you’d like to recieve a copy or sign up for future newsletters let me know by using the contact form on the left. (They don’t come out often: I’m aiming at one evey couple of months, maybe. I promise your inbox will not be crammed with news from me.)

photo credit: Neal. via photopin cc

6 comments on “CAPTURING THE QUIET MOMENTS… examples of good writing

  1. theowllady
    September 8, 2014

    Reblogged this on theowlladyblog.

  2. jeansasson
    September 8, 2014

    Reblogged this on Jean Sasson and commented:
    This is a very nice blog. I recommend it.

    • bridget whelan
      September 8, 2014

      Thank you! A nice comment to wake up to on Monday morning…

  3. A Teenage Poet
    September 8, 2014

    “If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry.”
    That’s a Jane Austen quote, and I think it perfectly describes the feeling you asked about at the end of the post. Often I’ll read and suddenly get shivers all over me. I thought at first I was only getting cold, but as I got older it was too much of a coincidence and is definitely because of the beauty of whatever I’m reading.
    It’s the feeling I hope my poetry can someday inspire in people.

  4. bridget whelan
    September 8, 2014

    I haven’t come across that Jane Austen quote before so thank you for sharing it. Emily Dickenson said something the same – can’t find it right now – but you’re right, it’s that rare feeling that this combination of words, in this order, have created something so special, so essentially right and beautiful that it has a physical impact. The Woolf extract comes very near to that for me…

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This entry was posted on September 8, 2014 by in Muse and tagged , , , , .


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