09 August 2007

"Beautiful"

Sadly, our fall 2007 Electric Spec deadline has passed. :(
If you made the deadline: Thank you for your submission!.
If not: Please submit for our next issue, coming out in winter 2008.

I was reading through submissions earlier and came across the word "beautiful". I have to admit this word does not impress me. Beautiful, how? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? So, "beautiful" is full of judgment and short on details. It is a 'telling' word, not a 'showing' word. Show us through description, deeds, or even better, how people react, that the person or item is beautiful.
Keep in mind, though, judgment words can work effectively for first-person pov, or very close third-person pov.

5 comments:

Ian Randal Strock said...

Hmm. I had a similar discussion about the same word a long time ago (I was the writer, one of my readers the editor). While I understand that "beautiful" doesn't describe the thing it's talking about, it does describe the narrator, the character who uses the word. If Joe thought Kate's dress was beautiful, that tells us something about Joe's state of mind (as opposed to thinking it was dreadful, or red). And if it's the narrator talking to the reader, beautiful is a way of saying "it looked very good, but rather than tell you what I think looks very good, I'm telling you that you should imagine what you think looks very good, because that's the effect."

I'm not adamantly opposed to "beautiful."

David E. Hughes said...

You both make good points. The word can be used well or used poorly. "A beautiful woman walked by" does not do much for me. But "The twisted metal of the burning car was beautiful" is interesting because is says a lot about the observer.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

Well, I'd prefer more internal judgements based on behavior, not sight alone. Most stories lean heavily on the visual, so in that respect beautiful reinforses that. I agree, you can do better than beautiful.

Or you can truly show; like the woman walked across the room and even the twenty-something boys peered around their girlfriends to watch her. Something like that.

Ian Randal Strock said...

"beautiful" leans on the visual, but then again, so do people. It's literature reflecting the realities of life.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I don't know if I agree with that. I like to push the other senses. For instance, I was sitting at the pool yesterday and someone sat next to me and made me very uncomfortable. I did not look at her, but her proximity bothered me--almost as if I could feel her aura pushing into my space.

Or, maybe it was her her obnoxious whiny kid.

I have no idea what they look like because I kept my gaze firmly on my book.