I can’t remember when I got into the habit of noting down descriptions from whatever book I was reading. They prove most useful when I’m in search of inspiration for my own writing. That’s not to say I copy them; instead, I use them to stimulate my imagination whenever I feel my words are stuck in the mundane.
Not all these descriptions are from the fantasy genre; I enjoy other genres too.
“His eyes were black pools, their surface rippled by secret winds.” ~ Robert Crais, ‘Hostage’
“The sun was now in its death throes, bruising the sky a coiling purple and orange. The tops of the trees seemed to be on fire.” ~ Harlan Coben, ‘Tell No One’
“… the velvety softness of the shadows, the clear early light spearing down through the branches, the lingering smell of night dampness.” ~ Dean Koontz, ‘Miss Atilla the Hun’
“… the deeper shadow… a clot of congealed dark that oozed malevolence.” ~ Chris Wooding, ‘The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray’
“Twelve rings, two on three fingers of each hand, snatched light from the ceiling fixture and seemed to elevate her task from drudgery to sorcery… A bouquet of steam wandered away from water lifting to a boil on the stove.” ~ Toni Morrison, ‘Love’
“The first sparkling stars are just beginning to show themselves in a deepening blue sky, like the glimpse of a diamond earring beneath a lock of dark hair.” ~ Shilpi S. Gowda, ‘Secret Daughter’
The rest of the descriptions are from ‘The Worm Ouroboros’ by E.R. Eddison.
It was part of a ‘Fantasy Masterclass’ set I’d bought. I’d never heard of Eddison but was intrigued enough to read the book, which is set on Mercury. I almost didn’t get past the beginning, which came across as totally unnecessary. But I carried on and was so glad I did.
I’ll say, straight off, it’s not an easy read and definitely not one for the faint of heart. The easiest way to describe Eddison’s writing style, the way he uses English, including Old and Middle, is to imagine if Shakespeare had written prose.
“The fires of sunset crept down the vast white precipices before them till every ledge and fold and frozen pinnacle glowed pink colour, and every shadow became an emerald.”
“… a wind arose in the unseen spaces of the sky, and tore the mist like a rotten garment. Spears of sunlight blazed through the rifts.”
“The low light, mother of shade and secrecy, that hovered in that chamber moved about the still figure of [the king]”
“His gait was delicate, as of some lithe beast of prey newly wakened out of slumber… very tall was that lord, and slender of build… delicate was his frame… yet with a sense of slumbering power beneath…”
“Dismal and fearsome to view was this [fortress]… by day a shadow in broad sunshine… darkening the desolation of the mournful fen; by night, a blackness more black than night herself.”
“Smoothly they had passage through that charmed night, where winds were hushed asleep and nought was heard save the waves talking beneath the bows of the ship.”