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Bob Nailor

Seeing The Light

"It was a dark and stormy night."

A cliche sentence we all recognize, if for no other reason than seeing Snoopy, the famous comic-strip beagle, sitting atop his doghouse with a typewriter. Still, the sentence invokes a certain aspect. In seven (7) words, your mind has embraced the atmosphere of the tale, the ambiance, if you will. There is an ominous boding within that sentence.

"She stood alone under the lamplight, one foot lifted, and like her shoulders, resting against the metal post as she absently blew smoke into the cool night air."

Again, your mind quickly envisioned a lady of the evening highlighted by the street light as she plied her trade in the dark of night. That one sentence flooded your imagination. Add another and the story takes form.

"Her mouth closed and the canines pressed against the painted lips in the shadows of her face."

Suddenly, the reality of the situation is revealed.


"Her bright blue eyes, filled with terror, reflected in the light's glow revealed the innocence hidden within of a novice attempt."

Definitely a different angle for the story line.

Light can only exist with darkness. And darkness can only exist with light. The two are tied together and together they can lift your writing skills new heights.

Think of it this way. You watch movies and so much of the magic the viewer enjoys is because of the lighting the director has chosen to use. Not enough or too much and the movie can flop or fail. Shadows are used to scare you. Bright sunny scenes are there to lift your spirits. The same should hold true in your writing.

Create and play with the shadows for tension, fear or surprisingly, magnificence.

How can that be?

I stood in the Hall of Power, feeling insignificant and meek as the columns about me soared into the darkness and shadows above.


I stood in the Hall of Power, sunlight streaming through the windows of colored crystals high above me, with dancing shadows on the mighty columns as the clouds drifted by.

Shadows need not be ominous every single time. Also, light need not be the gentle lift of the soul, either.

The sunlight bore down on him, his pallid skin turning red under its harsh punishment.

You can turn on a light in a room —

He entered the apartment and heard the lamp switch on.

Or you can do it better with —

He entered the apartment, the lamp switched on flooding the room with a soft glow.

By seeing the light... or the dark... you can add more to your story. Your story is like a movie as the reader progresses through the pages. Using light and dark to enhance the ambiance of your story is to your advantage. Readers will see more if you turn the light on for them.

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Elyse Salpeter
I never even considered this concept before about using light to help a scene. You're right - thanks for posting!
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Onisha Ellis
A well set scene frees the character to say less.
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I always hear my editors voice when I write. What does it feel like, sound like, smell like, etc. Love to get challenged!
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Lisa Jey Davis
WOW. GREAT tip today Bob! I am going to try to put that to use! :)
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James Prescott
Very good points here - don't write fiction much but totally agree with what you say. Good post!
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