I still don't have a story or a set cast of characters for my new book, but I've started to experiment with prose styles. In the past I've opted for spare and straight forward prose. For this project, I want to see if I will like something more intricate...even flowery. I'm realizing that I can write with two separate tones at the same time if I pay more attention to the prose. One tone is represented by the subject matter, and one is represented by the language. For example, I could write about a toppled dumpster in an alley using "ugly" language, which would be consistent, or I could write about the same dumpster using "pretty" language to create a different effect--to be able to write about something ugly while still keeping the reader in a zone of beauty. That's an interesting idea for me.
Here's one paragraph I wrote describing a view out of a window without paying attention to the tone of the language. I was just trying to be more intricate:
The loft overlooked a truck wash, from where, on the rare afternoons when Alan stayed home, he could hear the low rumble of engines, the shouts of the Mexican attendants, the spray of hoses, the quick and angry blasts of lug wrenches below his window. Trucks entered from the south, on Mateo Street, where the pavement was coated with smears of grease so thick your shoes sank into it and felt slippery for the rest of the morning if you were too lazy to cross the street on your way home from the bus stop. Beyond the wash was a warehouse displaying in bold black letters SOUTHWESTERN BAG CO.--Alan had lived in the loft for three months before realizing the place wasn’t abandoned. In the mornings, a bearded man in smudged overalls parked with two wheels on the curb while he unlocked the chain link fence surrounding the warehouse before pulling inside. A staff of two or three worked in the back, occasionally climbing into their truck to smoke a cigarette and listen to the radio with their feet propped on the door hinge.
Here's the same view written in a way that is more "beautiful" to me:
Framed and subdivided by the multi-pane window at one end of the loft was a view of the Los Angeles hills, where, on Friday evenings, fireworks popped behind an arc of evenly spaced palm trees that surrounded the baseball stadium. Moving closer, garment factories stood with their racks of bright materials and industrial spools of thread, the pale and bright fluorescent lights visible in suspended rows beneath concrete ceilings and water pipes. There was a smaller warehouse displaying in crisp black letters a sign that read SOUTHWESTERN BAG CO., and immediately below the window, a truck wash, which reflected the bright sun up into the loft, and with it the volleying sounds of lug wrenches and shouts.
What's Peanut eating? A fruit cup.