Monday, September 22, 2008

What's Another Word For Screech?

I've been riding the El lately, due to an on-site gig I have in River North where parking is imposible unless you want to pay $18 to park in a lot. Plus which, the commute is a good time to work on my novel, as things have been super hectic at home since Child #2. Plus plus which, my protagonist takes the El for the first time and waiting for the Purple Line provides the opportunity to take in the sights, sounds and smells of the El with which to write this scene poetically. But all I hear are the standard sounds of public transportationage: whoosh of doors, screech of brakes, rumble of train going down track. So pedestrian. So banal. There is no poetry in public transportation, I grumble. I also happen to be reading The Bonfire of the Vanities on the train and came across Tom Wolfe's description of the subway:

"Every time a train entered or left the station there was an agonized squeal of metal, as if some huge steel skeleton were being pried apart by a lever of incomprehensible power."


Think bigger, I tell myself. The next time I find myself waiting for the Purple Line I listen, and still all I hear is whoosh, screech, rumble — plus I picture a huge steel skeleton being pried apart by a lever of incomprehensible power.

My protagonist also experiences a great amount of fear and another place I get stumped is describing the physical effects of fear without resorting to the usual my hair stood on end, etc. Again, Tom Wolfe:

"The blood drained from Fallow's face, and then his chest and arms. His hide turned cold. Then a million little scalding hot minnows tried to escape from his arteries and reach the surface."

So the first thing I'm going to do, I'm going to stop reading Tom Wolfe.

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