Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Feneon's three-lines archive

A compilation of the left-rail blurbs about Felix Feneon's three lines and what we can take from them to apply to our own writing:

3/12/08 -- Rhythm
"After a misstep, then tumbling from one outcropping to another, Rouge, a mason, of Serrieres, Savoy, who was picking herbs, fractured his skull." -Feneon
Comment: The commas and sentence lengths create such a rhythm that you can almost see poor Rouge falling and feel it every time he hits an outcropping. -SB

4/1/08 -- Understatement
"Scratching himself with a revolver with an overly sensitive trigger, M. Edouard B. removed the tip of his nose in the Vivienne precinct house." -Feneon
Comment: The first 10 words have you anticipating what will happen, and the payoff is then serenely delivered to great effect. It also, importantly, implies that the man was not gravely hurt. --SB

4/08 -- Word choice
"Weighed down with bronzes, with china, with linens, and with tapestries, two burglars were arrested, at night, in Bry-sur-Marne." -Feneon
Comment: The repetition of the word 'with' before each new item adds a sense of piling on -- of weight -- to the sentence. Without that repetition, the sentence would be lighter, just a regular sentence. --SB

5/08 -- Chronology
"Under a series of pseudonyms, a young woman finds employment as a maid and then leaves, quickly, emburdened. Her take: 25,000 francs. No arrest yet." -Feneon
Comment: He's told a story in which something benign turned into something not so benign, and told it in the order it happened, in 25 words. (Bonus on word choice: I love the use of the word 'emburdened' to describe a thief making off with loot.) --SB

6/08 -- Dialogue
"An irascible conversationalist, Convest, of Thiais, struck with an iron bar the head of his interlocutor, Milot, of Choisy-le-Roi."-Feneon
Comment: A simple thing, said with style: They were talking, and the conversation went bad. --SB

7/08 -- Word choice
"Delalande's tender feelings for his maid were such that he killed his wife with a pitchfork. The Rennes assizes sentenced him to death."-Feneon
Comment: 'Tender' highlights the brutality of the murder. Without that word -- or even with a different one -- the sentence wouldn't have quite the same impact. --SB