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I am having difficulty explaining that the sun evaporated the fog that had brushed up against the blooming hills. When I add "with spectacular wildflower blooms", it sounds as if the sun evaporated the fog and the wildflower blooms.

Here is my sentence:

By late morning, the warming temperatures evaporated the fog that had brushed up against the hills bursting with spectacular wildflower blooms.

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  • Your question is very near asking for a critique of your writing. Those kind of questions get closed since the replies don’t benefit a larger audience. Try to shift the focus of your question to be about technique and you’ll more than likely get better answers
    – EDL
    Commented Apr 12 at 2:07

2 Answers 2

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The problem seems to me that you are trying to express one mental image or idea with one single sentence. This leads you to try and create a sentence into which too much information has been compressed. As a result the sentence becomes overly complex and begins to deteriorate syntactically.

As a solution, try to think about how artworks are described. You can visually grasp the contents of a simple painting at one glance. But you cannot usually describe it in one sentence. You have to "split" the image into its constituent elements and use several sentences to describe each of them separately as well as their relation among each other.

In your case, the "image" consists of the hills, the vegetation on the hills, the fog, the movement of the fog, and the effect of the sun on the fog.

I usually begin by making simple sentences that describe these elements. I'll take the prases from your example:

  • The hills are blooming.
  • The fog brushes up against the hills.
  • The sun evaporates the fog.

You can now easily combine these elements into different "texts":

  • The hills are blooming. The fog brushes up against the hills. The sun evaporates the fog.
  • The fog brushes up against the blooming hills. The sun evaporates the fog.
  • Under the fog the hills are blooming. Slowly the sun evaporates the fog, revealing phlox, juniper, and periwinkle.
  • And so on.

The first example, in which I simply combine the sentences that describe the elements, is fitting for a story written in simple, short sentences, e.g. for children. This style also works well in an action story with a factual narrative style.

But you can also create different combinations of these elements, as I did in the second example, to see which combination works best for you.

And, as in the third example, you can add further details to these combinations.

The important trick is that you write down different versions instead of trying to create the optimal version in our mind. Your mind cannot juggle all variants and compare them and identify the best one. The result will usually be awkward and convoluted. But if you write out all variants that you can think of and read through them, you can easily see which one works best for you.

So, to summarize:

  1. Make a list of the elements of what you want to say.
  2. Combine these elements in all possible ways.
  3. Do this in writing and not in your mind.

This is what I do every time I get stuck trying to find a good way to say something.


Note

I tried to avoid the repetition of blooming and bloom and therefore replaced "wildflower bloom" with names of plants. You should definitely try variants with "wildflower bloom" as well and see how that works for you.

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  • Ben, that is pretty clever. I will use that approach next. And your version does sound better than mine. Thanks. Commented Apr 14 at 5:39
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Try describing an evolving scene, a process that took place.

By late morning, the warming temperatures evaporated the fog blanketing the hills, revealing a rolling green carpet bursting with spectacular wildflower blooms.

To me, the trigger words are "that had been". That is technically past perfect tense, and it is describing something that happened in the past.

It is better to describe in present tense. The fog is there, the fog evaporates, the hill is revealed.

I don't know of a general rule published anywhere, but I always wince at past perfect tense, it feels awkward to me when reading.

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    your version is spot on. I love it. I don't have the mindset to come up with words such as blanketing and rolling green carpet. Is there a site that offers these metaphors to writers? Commented Apr 14 at 5:37
  • @Silver12748 I do not know of any. Just a lifetime of reading.
    – Amadeus
    Commented Apr 14 at 10:01

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