Creating Atmosphere 2 : Using Light and Shade

Creating atmosphere : with shade in the picture

contrast in shade

Light and shade help to create atmosphere. It doesn’t have to be deep gloom or blinding sunlight, just a degree of contrast.

To see what I’m getting at, have a look at the 3 pictures in the slider  below, showing roughly the same view of a snowy landscape, but in different kinds of light. I reckon the changes of light and shade move the viewer from misery (or at least gloom), through hope, to something much more positive.

The question is: can we do the same thing, subtly, with mere words? Continue reading

Pedantique-Ryter : Between You and I? Better than me?

Between you and I?

telling secrets : between me and you

It’s a secret. Just between you and…er…

According to Fowler’s Modern English Usage, “between you and I” is to be condemned. Anyone who writes that abomination is living in “a grammarless cavern”.
What we should write, of course, is “between you and me”.

How to tell?

Without going into the grammar technicalities, ask yourself whether you’d write or say “between I and you”. You wouldn’t. You’d say “between me and you”. Normally, we put ourselves second but that doesn’t change the rule on whether to use “I” or not.
It’s “between me and you”, so it’s also “between you and me”. Continue reading

Creating Atmosphere : British India Comes Alive

Atmosphere : unspoken unease and menace

At Sophie’s prompting, I’ve recently been reading a new (to me) crime writer, Barbara Cleverly   (a writer who only just missed the cut for 12 days of Christmas). Cleverly’s first 4 books are set in India in the 1920s, after the horrors of the First World War (which haunts many of her characters) but while the British Empire still rules.

Atmosphere: Last Kashmiri Rose coveratmosphere : ragtime in simla coveratmosphere : damascened blade cover

What stayed with me, apart from her genius for plotting, was the atmosphere she created for her pre-independence India — an underlying feeling of unease, even menace.

Cleverly’s British Raj is like a thin and very fragile glass lid on a huge cauldron of broth. Readers can see through the lid to the liquid below. Not quite boiling yet, but with the occasional large bubble forcing its way through the shimmering and (apparently) serene surface. As readers, we sense that it wouldn’t take very much to crack through that flimsy lid from below. Continue reading

Day 13 of 12 Days of Christmas : Was It Worth It?

Day 13 calendarDay 13

It sounds like a horror movie, doesn’t it? Sort of the reverse of the Seventh Day, when you’re supposed to rest. More 21st century urban nightmare than traditional Christmas. (Indeed, the IMdB data base does list a move called DAY 13 filmed in 2017. But that’s about all it says.)

POST PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION REVIEW

editing sequence actionsWell, Mr True Love, would you say that you succeeded in implementing your ideas?

Did you achieve your goals?

Did the project fully solve the problem it was designed to address?

Can you take things further (further?!) to deliver bigger benefits in the future? (Yikes!) Continue reading

Day 12 of 12 Days of Christmas : 12 Drummers Drumming & Play

Day 12 drum kitIf you needed any more evidence that True Love has lost the plot Day 12 will do it.  He’s now throwing 12 drummers drumming into the mix. Assuming they enter Stage Left and advance, drumming, that sounds pretty much like a declaration of war to me, if not the start of the battle.

Of course, the recipient may be a fan of heavy metal or other modern music making. In which case the drummers presumably just roll up on a milk float, or similar, sitting in the middle of their drum kit.

Welcome new arrivals, you think? Continue reading

Day 11 of 12 Days of Christmas : 11 Pipers Piping & Ratty

By Day 11 Mr True Love has lurched from sweetly metaphorical, or at least agriculturally productive, through the dangerous combination of entertainment and aristocracy into full-blown martial mode. He’s sending eleven pipers to do his wooing business.

Day 11 Pipers pipingNow they could be playing the bagpipes. It’s the time of year for it.

In Scotland pipers are booked up years in advance for both New Year parties and Burns’ Night celebrations on (or about — because they often slip to Saturday night with its attendant recovery period) 25th January.

But eleven bagpipes? Well maybe, if you’re advancing on the field of battle. But as a token of a chap’s respect and affection? Um. Continue reading

Day 10 of 12 Days of Christmas : 10 Lords a-Leaping & Wimsey

Day 10 lordsBy Day 10, the deranged True Love is sending along an almost football team of male aristocrats engaged in unlikely gymnastics. Were I the recipient I would go away pretty sharpish, not leaving a forwarding address.

The British 1970s Christmas stamp depicting these Lords (and yesterday’s Ladies) is chilling. At least, I think so. Continue reading

Day 9 of 12 Days of Christmas : 9 Ladies Dancing & Joanna

Day 9 ladies and lordsBy Day 9, Mr True Love has gone into the entertainment business. (It is a role he will continue for the rest of the holiday.)  He presents our heroine with nine ladies dancing.

You may think, as I do, that this is an odd choice. Frankly, it sounds more like a stag do than a gift to the beloved. Surely it would have been more alluring if he’d invited the object of his affections to dance with him?

Hasn’t he seen Strictly Come Dancing, for Heaven’s sake? (That’s Dancing With the Stars,  if you’re across the Pond.) Continue reading

Day 8 of 12 Days of Christmas : 8 Maids a-Milking & Heyer

By Day 8, the True Love is getting more ambitious and, frankly, a bit cracked.

Today’s gift embraces both livestock and human trafficking. This is seriously dodgy territory now. He’s clearly into all things quaint, traditional and with just a hint of the Good Old Days. Maybe even Heritage.

I feel we’re beginning to detect some disturbing undercurrents in these so-called gifts. Are they not just another way of tying his Beloved to endless cleaning and animal husbandry? Only now she’ll have staff to placate as well. Not a good outlook. Continue reading

Day 7 of 12 Days of Christmas : 7 Swans a-Swimming & Company

swan and cygnets swimmingAt least our heroine’s True Love has shifted from domestic to wild birds with the Day 7 offering. And not just a wild bird but a truly beautiful one, with mythological and poetic pedigree to boot.

The swan is one of the creatures that mates for life, according to legend and, to some extent, ornithological observation. (Not 100%, apparently; but a significant percentage of couples stick together.)

Allegedly it also sings only once, at the point of death – hence the exquisitely mournful Orlando Gibbons motet 

So at last we have here a gift with real subtext: love, loyalty and death. Not that jolly maybe. But certainly romantic. Hmm. Possibly a bit late, given the bird shit that must be surrounding his lady love’s residence by now. Continue reading