View Full Version : Help with a description

11-26-2010, 07:09 PM
Hi guys, I'd love some help with this sentence. A bomb has just exploded in the school. people were evacuated and the MC is observing the scene from a safe distance. My description sounds too 'happy' and I can't use 'shrapnel' since I've used it in another place already. Also, the MC is 13 years old.

Here's my sentence:

Students were scattered around the parking lot like a spilled bag of skittles.
ao lot nu bon bon (http://doxinh.com/danh-muc/thuong-hieu-do-lot/hang-bon-bon/ao-nguc-bon-bon/) quan ao nu dep (http://doxinh.com.vn/danh-muc/quan-ao-thoi-trang/quan-ao-nu/) yem an cho be (http://doxinh.vn/danh-muc/do-so-sinh-cho-be/yem-an-cho-be/) ban buon quan ao (http://trangbanbuon.com/) vest cong so nu (http://trangbanbuon.vn/danh-muc/thoi-trang-cong-so/vest-cong-so/) cho thue trang phuc da hoi (http://roses.vn/studio/cho-thue-trang-phuc/)
Any suggestions?

11-26-2010, 07:39 PM
The description would depend entirely on your narrator's voice. You need to keep the description in his world. The skittles seem to work.

11-26-2010, 07:41 PM
First of all, eliminate the passive voice. After that, it's just a question of tone.

Linda Adams
11-26-2010, 08:25 PM
What's your definition of safe distance? We routinely have bomb drill evacuations, and safe distance is a LONG ways away. If your character was evacuated to a proper safe distance, it is unlikely the students would be in the parking lot unless it was huge parking lot like what you would find at a major shopping mall. This gives you the distances, the shortest of which is 850 feet. http://www.nctc.gov/docs/2006_calendar_bomb_stand_chart.pdf

I'd also suggest avoiding using a description like Skittles. It's colorful candy and doesn't describe frightened and confused people. Instead of describing what they look like, describe the emotions of the crowd. People will be in shock or having an emotional reaction of some kind. There also will be someone taking role to make sure everyone got out.

If this is in your main character's POV, shrapnel's also probably not a good word. It's more of a military word, not something a kid would use. Maybe charred wood, burned paper, metal twisted into a pretzel.

Drachen Jager
11-26-2010, 09:32 PM
I think it would be best to describe it. It's not "like" anything most people have ever experienced. I agree the sentence you have makes it trivial.

The kid is in shock, first off, everything's going to be a bit surreal to him. This makes me think of the opening to Saving Private Ryan, when Tom Hanks's character is stunned by an explosion. He can't hear anything, just stands there quietly observing the battlefield for a minute.

Often people in those situations focus on the little things, that can work well. Someone in that position might not be able to comprehend the big picture, at least not until they'd recovered somewhat. Maybe he sees a friend or a teacher and focuses on that.

11-26-2010, 11:37 PM
What are the reactions of the students? Some crying, some praying, some trying to see what is going on? What can your POV character smell? Is there smoke, a lot of dust in the air?

11-27-2010, 07:39 PM
Thanks guys. I appreciate the help.

11-27-2010, 08:22 PM
Students were scattered around the parking lot like a spilled bag of skittles.
I'd prefer the following:

Students were scattered around the parking lot like skittles.

This is simpler and conjures up an image of skittles that have been knocked flying, which seems appropriate enough.

11-28-2010, 06:30 AM
Ants fleeing from a trampled ant hill?

11-28-2010, 06:41 AM
I'm not sure I liked the skittles analogy either. coming from m/t/s background it made me think people had exploded.

if going from a your young MC's POV, he might even think classmates, or other kids in his class, instead of students.

good advice above - to focus in on the emotions your MC is feeling, and go from there.

maybe something like this for example...(please don't judge me for this lol...just yappin')

The other kids in my class were spread out all over the place. It was nothing like any fire drill I had ever seen.

in focusing on how your MC feels, and what he observes, the emotion is conveyed to the reader. how does this explosion affect him?

Sarah Madara
11-28-2010, 10:48 AM
I kind of like the Skittles, IF it fits your character's voice. I might like it better if it were a little more detailed - just a little. You could say kids were scattered in the parking lot, maybe add something about the bright colors of their clothes. Then, new sentence: From where I stood, they just looked like a spilled bag of Skittles.

Of course I don't know your character's voice, so I'm in no position to say how he should talk.

I don't think the description sounds too happy. It seems distant to me, like he's not really able to process anything beyond the colors. That isn't necessarily a bad thing. I can imagine reading that description and getting a feeling of the narrator being in shock. Sometimes people notice weird things when they're traumatized.