Tag Archives: stumbleupon

A New Writing Editor I’m Trying Out

I saw this program on StumbleUpon and it only costs $9.99 so I decided to give it a try.  I will let you know as I use it, but so far it looks like it will improve my edits.  It automatically color highlights your work a lot like my beta readers do.  Here is a sample from the StumbleUpon post for the Hemingway Editor 2.0, found at hemingwayapp.com.

Hemingway App makes your writing bold and clear.

The app highlights long, complex sentences and common errors; if you see a yellow sentence, shorten or split it. If you see a red highlight, your sentence is so dense and complicated that your readers will get lost trying to follow its meandering, splitting logic — try editing this sentence to remove the red.

You can utilize a shorter word in place of a purple one. Mouse over it for hints.

Adverbs are helpfully shown in blue. Get rid of them and pick verbs with force instead.

Phrases in green have been marked to show passive voice.

You can format your text with the toolbar.

Paste in something you’re working on and edit away. Or, click the Write button to compose something new.

Go here to see it in color:  http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/4GI0Uh/:1lV1rhLUC:aKqT93OA/www.hemingwayapp.com

You drop your Word file into plain text, then open.  When you are done, you can reverse the process.  I dropped one of my upcoming books into it and I have already found some very helpful edits as a result.



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Punny Literary Sentences

For those who love a punny turn of phrase…

42 phrases a lexophile would love


1. I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.

2. Police were called to a day care, where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.

3. Did you hear about the guy whose whole left side was cut off? He’s all right now.

4. The roundest knight at King Arthur’s round table was Sir Cumference.

5. To write with a broken pencil is pointless.

6. When fish are in schools they sometimes take debate.

7. The short fortune teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.

8. A thief who stole a calendar… got twelve months.

9. A thief fell and broke his leg in wet cement. He became a hardened criminal.

10. Thieves who steal corn from a garden could be charged with stalking.

11. When the smog lifts in Los Angeles , U. C. L. A.

12. The math professor went crazy with the blackboard. He did a number on it.

13. The professor discovered that his theory of earthquakes was on shaky ground.

14. The dead batteries were given out free of charge.

15. If you take a laptop computer for a run you could jog your memory.

16. A dentist and a manicurist fought tooth and nail.

17. A bicycle can’t stand alone; it is two tired.

18. A will is a dead giveaway.

19. Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.

20. A backward poet writes inverse.

21. In a democracy it’s your vote that counts; in feudalism, it’s your Count that votes.

22. A chicken crossing the road: poultry in motion.

23. If you don’t pay your exorcist you can get repossessed.

24. With her marriage she got a new name and a dress.

25. Show me a piano falling down a mine shaft and I’ll show you A-flat miner.

26. When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.

27. The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine was fully recovered.

28. A grenade fell onto a kitchen floor in France and resulted in Linoleum Blownapart.

29. You are stuck with your debt if you can’t budge it.

30. Local Area Network in Australia : The LAN down under.

31. He broke into song because he couldn’t find the key.

32. A calendar’s days are numbered.

33. A boiled egg is hard to beat.

34. He had a photographic memory which was never developed.

35. A plateau is a high form of flattery.

36. Those who get too big for their britches will be exposed in the end.

37. When you’ve seen one shopping center you’ve seen a mall.

38. If you jump off a Paris bridge, you are in Seine.

39. Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead to know basis.

40. Santa’s helpers are subordinate clauses.

41. Acupuncture: a jab well done.

42. A lot of money is tainted: ‘Taint yours, and ‘taint mine.


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Six Word Stories

Brevity is the soul of wit…  (See what I did there?  Grins.)  Stop me now, stuck on six…  Oh no, still writing in sixes…

The following is Reposted from StumbleUpon.  Original source – http://www.sixwordstories.net. 

Six Word Stories

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Ranking the most powerful forces in the Universe

Reposted from http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1YetgF/:LYdzCxjD:TeSAV+gi/www.sentientdevelopments.com/2009/06/ranking-most-powerful-forces-in.html/

June 24, 2009

Ranking the most powerful forces in the Universe

There are a large number of forces at work in the Universe, some more powerful than others — and I’m not talking about the four fundamental forces of nature. A force in the context I’m talking about is any phenomenon in Universe that exhibits a powerful effect or influence on its environment. Many of these phenomenon quite obviously depend on the four basic forces to function (gravity, electromagnetism, the weak interaction and the strong interaction), but it’s the collective and emergent effects of these fundamental forces that I’m interested in.
And when I say power I don’t just mean the capacity to destroy or wreak havoc, though that’s an important criteria. A force should also be considered powerful if it can profoundly reorganize or manipulate its environment in a coherent or constructive way.
Albert Einstein once quipped that the most powerful force in the Universe was compound interest. While he does have a point, and with all due respect to the Master, I present to you my list of the four most powerful phenomenon currently making an impact in the Universe:
4. Supermassive Black Holes
There’s no question that black holes are scary; it’s the only part of the Universe that can truly destroy itself.
Indeed, Einstein himself, whose Theory of Relativity opened the door to the modern study of black holes, noted that “they are where God has divided by zero.” And it’s been said that the gravitational singularity, where the laws of physics collapse,  is the most complex mystery of science that still defies human knowledge.
Somewhat counterintuitively, black holes take the weakest of the four basic forces, gravity, to create a region of space with a gravitational field so powerful that nothing, not even light, can escape its pull. They’re called “black” because they absorb all the light that hits them and reflect nothing. They have a one-way surface, the event horizon, into which objects can fall, but out of which nothing (save for Hawking Radiation) can escape.
Black holes can also vary in size and gravitational intensity. Supermassive black holes are a million to a billion times the mass of a typical black hole. Most galaxies, if not all, are believed to contain supermassive black holes at their centers (including the Milky Way).
And recent studies are now suggesting that they are much larger than previously thought. Computer models reveal that the supermassive black hole at the heart of the giant galaxy M87 weighs the same as 6.4 billion suns—two to three times heavier than previous estimates.
That’s a lot of pull.
Indeed, should anything have the misfortune of getting close enough to a supermassive black hole, whether it be gas, stars or entire solar systems, it would be sucked into oblivion. Its gravitational pull would be so overwhelming that it would hurl gas and stars around it at almost the speed of light; the violent clashing would heat the gas up to over a million degrees.
Some have suggested that the supermassive black hole is the most powerful force in the Universe. While its ability to destroy the very fabric of space and time itself is undeniably impressive (to say the least), its localized and limited nature prevent it from being ranked any higher than fourth on my list. A black hole would never subsume an entire Galaxy, for example, at least not within cosmologically long time frames.
3. Gamma-Ray Bursts
The power of gamma-ray bursts (GRB) defies human comprehension.
Imagine a hypergiant star at the end of its life, a massive object that’s 150 times larger than our own. Extremely high levels of gamma radiation from its core is causing its energy to transform to matter. The resultant drop in energy causes the star to collapse. This results in a dramatic increase in the thermonuclear reactions that was burning within it. All this added energy overpowers the gravitational attraction and it explodes in a fury of energy — the hypergiant has gone hypernova.
This is not the stuff of fiction or theory — explosions like this have been observed. Hypernovas of this size can instantly expel about 10X46 joules. This is more energy than our sun produces over a period of 10 billion years. 10 billion years! In one cataclysmic explosion!
Hypernovas can wreak tremendous havoc in its local area, effectively sterilizing the region. These explosions produce highly collimated beams of hard gamma-rays that extend outward from the exploding star. Any unfortunate life-bearing planet that should come into contact with those beams would suffer a mass extinction (if not total extinction depending on its proximity to the supernova). Gamma-rays would eat up the ozone layer and indirectly cause the onset of an ice age due to the prevalence of NO2 molecules.
Supernovas can shoot out directed beams of gamma-rays to a distance of 100 light years, while hypernovas disburse gamma ray bursts as far as 500 to 1,000 light years away.
We are currently able to detect an average of about one gamma-ray burst per day. Because gamma-ray bursts are visible to distances encompassing most of the observable Universe — a volume encompassing many billions of galaxies — this suggests that gamma-ray bursts are exceedingly rare events per galaxy. Determining an exact rate is difficult, but for a galaxy of approximately the same size as the Milky Way, the expected rate (for hypernova-type events) is about one burst every 100,000 to 1,000,000 years.
Thankfully, hypergiant Eta Carinae, which is on the verge of going nova, is well over 7,500 light years away from Earth. We’ll be safe when it goes off, but you’ll be able to read by its light at night-time.
But not so fast — our safety may not be guaranteed. Some scientists believe that gamma-ray busters may be responsible for sterilizing giagantic swaths of the galaxy — in some cases as much as a quarter of the galaxy. Such speculation has given rise to the theory that gamma-ray bursters are the reason for the Fermi Paradox; exploding stars are continually stunting the potential for life to advance, making it the 3rd most powerful force in the Universe.
2. Self-Replication
A funny thing started to happen about 8 billion years ago: pieces of the Universe started to make copies of itself. This in turn kindled another phenomena: natural selection.
While this might not seem so impressive or powerful in its own right, it’s the complexification and the emergent effects of this process that’s interesting; what began as fairly straight forward cellular replication, at least on Earth, eventually progressed into viruses, dinosaurs, and human beings.
Self-replicating RNA/DNA has completely reshaped the planet, its surface and atmosphere molded by the processes of life. And it’s a process that has proven to be remarkably resilient. The Earth has been witness to some extremely calamitous events over its history, namely the Big Five Mass Extinctions, but life has picked itself up, dusted off, and started anew.
Now, what makes self-replication all the more powerful is that it is not limited to biological substrate. Computer viruses and memes provide other examples of how self-replication can work. Replicators can also be categorized according to the kind material support they require in order to go about self-assembly. In addition to natural replicators, which have all or most of their design from nonhuman sources (i.e. natural selection), there’s also the potential for:

  • Autotrophic replicators: Devices that could reproduce themselves in the wild and mine their own materials. It’s thought that non-biological autotrophic replicators could be designed by humans and could easily accept specifications for human products.
  • Self-reproductive systems: Systems that could produce copies of itself from industrial feedstocks such as metal bar and wire.
  • Self-assembling systems: Systems that could assemble copies of themselves from finished and delivered parts. Simple examples of such systems have been demonstrated at the macro scale.

It’s conjectured that a particularly potent form of self-replication will eventually come in the form of molecular manufacturing and the introduction of self-replicating nanobots. One version of this vision is connected with the idea of swarms of coordinated nanoscale robots working in tandem.
Microscopic self-replicating nanobots may not sound particularly powerful or scary, but what is scary is the prospect for unchecked exponential growth. A fear exists that nanomechanical robots could self-replicate using naturally occurring materials and consume the entire planet in their hunger for raw materials. Alternately they could simply crowd out natural life, outcompeting it for energy. This is what has been referred to as the grey goo or ecophagy scenario. Some estimates show, for example, that the Earth’s atmosphere could be destroyed by such devices in a little under two years.
Self-replication is also powerful in terms of what it could mean for interstellar exploration and colonization. By using exponentially self-replicating Von Neumann probes, for example, the Galaxy could be colonized in as little as one to ten million years.
And of course, if you can build you can destroy; the same technology could be used to sterilize the Galaxy in the same amount of time [for more on this topic read my article, “Seven ways to control the Galaxy with self-replicating probes“].
Consequently, self-replication sits at #2 on my list; its remarkable ability to reshape matter, adapt, grow, consume, build and destroy make it a formidable force to be reckoned with.
1. Intelligence
Without a doubt the most powerful force in the universe is intelligence.
The capacity to collect, share, reorganize and act on information is unlike anything else in this universe. Intelligent beings can build tools, adapt to and radically change their environment, create complex systems and act with reasoned intention. Intelligent beings can plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend ideas, use language and learn.
In addition, intelligence can reflect on itself, predict outcomes and avoid peril; autonomous systems, for the most part, are incapable of such action.
Humanity, a particularly intelligent bunch owing to a few fortuitous evolutionary traits, has — for better or worse — become a force of nature on Earth. Our species has reworked the surface of the planet to meet its needs, significantly impacting on virtually every other species (bringing many to extinction) and irrevocably altering the condition of the atmosphere itself. Not content to stay at home, we have even sent our artifacts into space and visited our very own moon.
While some cynics may scoff at so-called human ‘intelligence’, there’s no denying that it has made a significant impact on the biosphere.
Moreover, what we think of as intelligence today may be a far cry from what’s possible. The advent of artificial superintelligence is poised to be a game-changer. A superintelligent agent, which may or may not have conscious or subjective experiences, is an intellect that is much smarter than the best human brains in practically every field, including problem solving, brute calculation, scientific creativity, general wisdom and social skills. Such entities may function as super-expert systems that work to execute on any goal it is given so long as it falls within the laws of physics and it has access to the requisite resources. That’s power. And that’s why it’s called the Technological Singularity; we have no idea how such an agent will behave once we get past the horizon.
Another more radical possibility (if that’s not radical enough) is that the future of the Universe itself will be influenced by intelligent life. The nature of intelligence and its presence in the Universe must always be called into question. There exists only one of two possibilities: intelligence is either 1) cosmological epiphenomenon, or 2) an intrinsic part of the Universe’s inner workings. If it’s the latter, perhaps we have some work to do in the future to ensure the Universe’s survival or to take part in its reproductive strategy.
Theories already exist in regards to stellar engineering — where a local sun could be tweaked in such a way to extend its lifespan. Future civilizations may eventually figure out how to re-engineer the Universe itself (such as re-working the constants) or create an escape hatch to basement universes. Thinkers who have explored these possibilities include Milan CirkovicJohn Smart, Ray Kurzweil, Alan Guth and James N. Gardner (for example, see Gardner’s book Biocosm: The New Scientific Theory of Evolution: Intelligent Life is the Architect of the Universe).
Intelligence as a force may not be particularly impressive today when considered alongside supermassive black holes, gamma-ray bursts and exponential self-replication. But it may be someday. The ability of intelligence to re-engineer its environment and work towards growth, refinement and self-preservation give it the potential to become the most powerful force in the Universe.

Posted by at6/24/2009

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Film School Thesis Generator

This is one of those strange sites I come across that tickle my funny bone.  This site basically comes up with film school thesis statements for you to base an appropriately erudite and pretentious analysis for your film school professors.


film school


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Art made from Cutting Wire Mesh

Ephemeral Portraits Cut from Layers of Wire Mesh by Seung Mo Park

source:  http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1ikp5m/:1KMMlKwsV:blC0PgpH/www.thisiscolossal.com/2012/04/ephemeral-portraits-cut-from-layers-of-wire-mesh-by-seung-mo-park/

Using a process that could be the new definition of meticulous, Korean sculptor Seung Mo Park creates giant ephemeral portraits by cutting layer after layer of wire mesh. Each work begins with a photograph which is superimposed over layers of wire with a projector, then using a subtractive technique Park slowly snips away areas of mesh. Each piece is several inches thick as each plane that forms the final image is spaced a few finger widths apart, giving the portraits a certain depth and dimensionality that’s hard to convey in a photograph, but this video on YouTube shows it pretty well. Park just exhibited this month at Blank Space Gallery in New York as part of his latest series Maya (meaning “illusion” in Sanskrit). You can see much more at West Collects. (art newswest collectslavinia tribiani)


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Top 15 Converted Hotels

Top 15 Converted Hotels

Posted by  – August 28, 2013
Source:  www.travelycia.com via StumbleUpon

Everyone loves a great vacation, including you. Whether it’s enjoying the scenery, exploring the culture or partying in the night scene, you come to love the dream destination because of your experience of enjoyment and luxurious comfort while visiting the place. Do you want to stay somewhere a little bit different on your next holiday? Converted hotels is another growing trend: buildings that were once used as something completely different, now renovated and refurbished as a hotel. These unconventional buildings have been wonderfully converted into hotels, retaining the spirit of the original structure, while offering luxurious accommodations and modern amenities.

1. Hotel Im Wasserturm, Cologne, Germany – a former water tower

Hotel Im Wasserturm Top 15 Converted Hotels

2. Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace, Budapest, Hungary – a former palace

Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Top 15 Converted Hotels

3. K+K Hotel Central, Prague, Czech Republic – a former theatre

K+K Hotel Central Top 15 Converted Hotels

4. Chateau de Trigance, Trigance, France – previously a medieval fortress

Chateau de Trigance Top 15 Converted Hotels

5. The Lighthouse, Llandudno, North Wales

The Lighthouse Llandudno Top 15 Converted Hotels

6. Old Bank Hotel, Oxford, England

Old Bank Hotel Top 15 Converted Hotels

7. Hotel Pulitzer, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Amsterdam, Holland – converted from two canal houses

Hotel Pulitzer Top 15 Converted Hotels

8. Krolewski Hotel, Gdansk, Poland – an ex-granary

Krolewski Hotel Top 15 Converted Hotels

9. Langholmen Hotel and Hostel, Stockholm, Sweden – formerly a prison

Langholmen Hotel Top 15 Converted Hotels

10. Mandarin Oriental, Prague, Czech Republic – converted from a 14th-century Dominican monastery

Mandarin Oriental Top 15 Converted Hotels

11. Quinta Real Zacatecas, Zacatecas, Mexico – former use: bullring

Quinta Real Zacatecas Top 15 Converted Hotels

12. Neemrana, Rajasthan, India – former fort palace

neemrana Top 15 Converted Hotels

13. Het Arresthuis, Roermond, Netherlands – former jail

het arresthuis Top 15 Converted Hotels

14. Clink 78, London – former use: Courthouse

clink78 Top 15 Converted Hotels

15. Blow Up Hall 5050, Poznan, Poland – former Brewery

Blow Up Hall 5050 Top 15 Converted Hotels


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A silly, funny animation

This is something I found when I was bored and clicking on StumbleUpon.  It’s an animation about one of those cherub-like statues that pees into a pond and the mermaid in the pond who tries to stop it.


Not particularly high brow, but I found it amusing.

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Characters for an Epic Tale

I love this drawing of characters for an epic tale.  Just the characters and their titles gave me hundreds of ideas for stories.  So many stories, so little time…sigh.  I hope you enjoy this cute set of drawing and characters I found on StumbleUpon at:


Unfortunately, I am not sure who to credit, other than mlkshk.com.  If you know who drew this, please comment.

characters in epic stories

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Great Character Descriptions from Science Fiction and Fantasy Books

As an author I found this very helpful.  I was pleased to see that I have read most of the books as well.  Putting good reading into your head helps get good writing out of it.  These descriptions are far from the police version – 6 foot, medium build, 30s, caucasion male.  I think all of us can learn to think a bit outside the box in creating our descriptions.

Reposted from StumbleUpon, from I09, written by CHARLIE JANE ANDERS AND MANDY CURTIS.

Great Character Descriptions from Science Fiction and Fantasy Books

The best science fiction and fantasy books aren’t just about amazing ideas, or huge vistas — they’re about people. So part of the key to a really successful SF/fantasy book is to describe people in a memorable, cool fashion.

A good description of a character goes a long way to letting you get to know that person — but it’s a tricky business. The best way to learn this challenging skill is by studying how others have pulled it off in the past. So here are some examples of our favorite character descriptions from science fiction and fantasy books.

Top image by Tomasz Jendruszek.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (page 10):

“Ender did not see Peter as the beautiful ten-year-old boy that grown-ups saw, with dark, tousled hair and a face that could have belonged to Alexander the Great. Ender looked at Peter only to detect anger or boredom, the dangerous moods that almost always led to pain.” Nice construction, telling us how other people see Peter, but then juxtaposing it with the more visceral way that Ender sees him.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (page 30):

“… Face like the moon, pale and somehow wavering. I could get the gist of his features, but none of it stuck in my mind beyond an impression of astonishing beauty. His long, long hair wafted around him like black smoke, its tendrils curling and moving of their own volition. His cloak — or perhaps that was his hair too — shifted as if in an unfelt wind. I could not recall him wearing a cloak before, on the balcony. The madness still lurked in his face, but it was a quieter madness now, not the rabid-animal savagery of before. Something else — I could not bring myself to call it humanity — stirred underneath the gleam.” This is full of lovely imagery, including the hair and the cloak moving like smoke — and it leaves you with a really sharp impression even as you don’t ever get a clear impression of him, because Yeine doesn’t either. It’s like a painting that sticks with you.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (page 11):
“He was not conspicuously tall, his features were striking but not conspicuously handsome. His hair was wiry and gingerish and brushed backward from the temples. His skin seemed to be pulled backward from the nose. There was something very slightly odd about him, but it was difficult to say what it was. Perhaps it was that his eyes didn’t seem to blink often enough and when you talked to him for any length of time your eyes began involuntarily to water on his behalf. Perhaps it was that he smiled slightly too broadly and gave people the unnerving impression that he was about to go for their neck.” This description of Ford Prefect is sparky and full of action, you can practically see him smiling unblinkingly at you.

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien (page 274):

“The face of Elrond was ageless, neither old nor young, though in it was written the memory of many things both glad and sorrowful. His hair was dark as the shadows of twilight, and upon it was set a circlet of silver; his eyes were grey as a clear evening, and in them was a light like the light of stars.” You can almost feel night gathering as you read that passage, from the gray of evening to the appearance of the night sky, and the overall impression is one of great age despite the claim of agelessness.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (page 98):

“She’s the twelve-year-old, the one who reminded me so of Prim in stature. Up close she looks about ten. She has bright, dark eyes and satiny brown skin and stands tilted up on her toes with arms slightly extended to her sides, as if ready to take wing at the slightest sound. It’s impossible not to think of a bird.” A lot of the best character descriptions have action or a element of movement to them, so you not only see the character, you see her in motion. (Doris Lessing has a good passage about this in one of her Martha Quest novels.) Here, we get Rue’s physical details, but we also have an indelible sense of how she moves.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (page 39):

“Black-haired and slender, wearing the huge new dust-filtering glasses, she approached his car, her hands deep in the pockets of her brightly striped long coat. She had, on her sharply defined small face, an expression of sullen distaste.” The body language, with the hands deep in the coat pockets, is super clear — you can practically see her hunching over. And you have to love the giant glasses and the “sharply defined small face.”

Great Character Descriptions from Science Fiction and Fantasy Books

Soulless by Gail Carriger (page 8):
“The fourth Earl of Woolsey was much larger than Professor Lyall and in possession of a near-permanent frown. Or at least he always seemed to be frowning when he was in the presence of Miss Alexia Tarabotti, ever since the hedgehog incident (which really, honestly, had not been her fault). He also had unreasonably pretty tawny eyes, mahogany-colored hair, and a particularly nice nose.” What’s great here is that you digress into backstory that gives you a tantalizing hint about this character’s bad temper, and then suddenly you’re snapped back into very concrete physical description — but the physical description seems sharper because you’ve gotten this impression of Lord Maccon as a person.

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (page 2):

“These sharps were dressed in the heighth of fashion too, with purple and green and orange wigs on their gullivers. Each one not costing less than three or four weeks of those sharps’ wages, I should reckon, and make-up to match (rainbows round the glazzies, that is, and the rot painted very wide). Then they had long black very straight dresses, and on the groody part of them they had little badges of like silver with different malchick’s names on them-Joe and Mike and suchalike.” Describing the three devotchkas, Burgess gives us a crash course in dystopian future fashion.

Dune by Frank Herbert (page 459):

“Through the door came two Sardukar herding a girl-child who appeared to be about four years old. She wore a black aba, the hood thrown back to reveal the attachments of a stillsuit hanging free at her throat. Her eyes were Fremen blue, staring out of a soft, round face. She appeared completely unafraid and there was a look to her stare that made the Baron feel uneasy for no reason he could explain.” Your immediate impression of Alia is one of power and disturbing intensity. But there’s a lot of implied violence in the description too — the hood that’s “thrown back” and the emphasis on her bare throat. It’s immediately intense and gripping.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (page 8):

“If the motorcycle was huge, it was nothing to the man sitting astride it. He was twice as tall as a normal man and at least five times as wide. He looked simply too big to be allowed, and so wild — long tangles of bushy black hair and beard hid most of his face, he had hands the size of trash can lids, and his feet in their leather boots were like baby dolphins.” The idea that Hagrid is “simply too big to be allowed” is fantastic — it’s the Dursleys’ viewpoint seeping through, but also maximizes how big and unruly he seems. And his feet are like baby dolphins! It’s comical and totally lodges itself in your brain.

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut (page 23):

“He was a funny-looking child who became a funny-looking youth — tall and weak, and shaped like a bottle of Coca-Cola.” I love the pithiness of Vonnegut, the quirky images that say a lot in a few words.

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest (page 22):

“Without the coat, her body had a lean look to it — as if she worked too long, and ate too little or too poorly. Her gloves and tall brown boots were caked with the filth of the plant, and she was wearing pants like a man. Her long, dark hair was piled up and back, but two shifts of labor had picked it apart and heavy strands had scattered, escaping the combs she’d used to hold it all aloft.” This is another description that gives you both the physical details but also a sense of who Briar is, and exactly how poverty and hard labor have affected her.

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (page 12):
“She was a bold-looking girl of about twenty-seven, with thick dark hair, a freckled face, and swift, athletic movements. A narrow scarlet sash, emblem of the Junior Anti-Sex League, was wound several times around her waist of her overalls, just tightly enough to bring out the shapeliness of her hips.” I love the irony of the anti-sex sash bringing out the shapeliness of Julia’s hips, but also the repeated suggestions that she’s bold and fast-moving.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (page 7):

“There are four simple ways for the observant to tell Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar apart: first, Mr. Vandemar is two and a half heads taller than Mr. Croup; second, Mr. Croup has eyes of a faded china blue, while Mr. Vandemar’s eyes are brown; third, while Mr. Vandemar fashioned the rings he wears on his right hand out of the skulls of four ravens, Mr. Croup has no obvious jewelry; fourth, Mr. Croup likes words, while Mr. Vandemar is always hungry. Also, they look nothing alike.” I love how the first sentence sets you up to believe the two characters are almost identical, and by the time the expectation is subverted, you’ve gotten a very clear impression of both of them because you’ve been paying extra-careful attention.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (page 4):

“He knew that when he returned to the firehouse, he might wink at himself, a minstrel man, burnt-corked, in the mirror. Later, going to sleep, he would feel the fiery smile still gripped by his face muscles, in the dark. It never went away, that smile, it never ever went away, as long as he remembered.” It’s not exactly a description, but it gives us a vivid impression of Guy Montag, his creepy smile and his burnt face.

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (page 12):

“Lord Asriel was a tall man with powerful shoulders, a fierce dark face, and eyes that seemed to flash and glitter with savage laughter. It was a face to be dominated by, or to fight: never a face to patronize or pity. All his movements were large and perfectly balanced, like those of a wild animal, and when he appeared in a room like this, he seemed a wild animal held in a cage too small for it.” I love the idea that his movements can be both huge and completely controlled, and that his face tells you what the two proper responses to it are.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (page 4):

“Tall and rather thin but upright, the Director advanced into the room. He had a long chin and big rather prominent teeth, just covered, when he was not talking, by his full, floridly curved lips. Old, young? Thirty? Fifty? Fifty-five? It was hard to say.” It’s funny how a lot of descriptions leave some things unresolved, like the Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning’s age — but you know that he’s someone who “advances” into a room rather than strolling in, and he’s always talking and displaying his giant teeth.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (page 40):
“Fifteen years past, when they had ridden forth to win a throne, the Lord of Storm’s End had been clean-shaven, clear-eyed, and muscled like a maiden’s fantasy. Six and a half feet tall, he towered over lesser men, and when he donned the armor and the great antlered helmet of his house, he became a veritable giant. He’d had a giant’s strength too, his weapon of choice a spiked iron warhammer that Ned could scarcely lift. In those days, the smell of leather and blood had clung to him like perfume.

“Now it was perfume that clung to him like perfume, and he had a girth to match his height. Ned had last seen the king nine years before during Balon Greyjoy’s rebellion, when the stag and the direwolf had joined to end the pretensions of the self-proclaimed King of the Iron Islands. Since the night they had stood side by side in Greyjoy’s fallen stronghold, where Robert had accepted the rebel lord’s surrender and Ned had taken his son Theon as hostage and ward, the king had gained at least eight stone. A beard as course and black as iron covered his jaw to hide his double chin and the sag of his royal jowls, but nothing could hide his stomach or the dark circles under his eyes.” Instead of a contrast between how other people see a character and the POV character sees him, as in Ender’s Game, you have a lovely contrast between how Robert appeared in his prime and how he appears now — which serves to accentuate his present decrepitude far more than a simple description would.

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