Prompt – Movement

The prompt this week was on movement, using the description of movement to show us character and tell the story.

In this example from “A River Runs Through It and Other Stories” by Norman Maclean, we see and feel the movement of the various characters, especially the bear.

Although I had fished this hole many times, I went to take another look at it before I put up my rod. I approached it step by step like an animal that has been shot at before. Once I had rushed down rod in hand to demolish a fish on the first cast and actually had made the first cast when part of the mountain on the other side started falling into the river. I had never seen the bear and he evidently had never seen me until he heard me swear when I was slow in reacting to the first strike. I didn’t even know what the bear had been doing – fishing, swimming, drinking. All I know is that he led a landslide up the mountain.

If you have never seen a bear go over the mountain, you have never seen the job reduced to essentials. Of course, deer are faster, but not going straight uphill. Not even elk have the power in their hindquarters. Deer and elk zigzag and switchback and stop and pose while really catching their breath. The bear leaves the earth like a bolt of lightning retrieving itself and making its thunder backwards.

In another example by Norman Maclean, we see movement in the description of a cowhand.

Every profession has a pinnacle to its art. In the hospital it is the brain or heart surgeon, and in the sawmill it is the sawyer who with squinting eyes makes the first major cut that turns a log into boards. In the early Forest Service, our major artist was the packer, as it usually has been in worlds where there are no roads. Packing is an art as old as the first time man moved and had an animal to help him carry his belongings. As such, it came ultimately from Asia and from there across Northern Africa and Spain and then up from Mexico and to us probably from Indian squaws. With the coming of roads, this ancient art has become almost a lost art, but in the early part of this century there were still few roads across the mountains and none across the “Bitterroot Wall.”

From the mouth of Blodgett Canyon, near Hamilton, Montana, to our ranger station at Elk Summit in Idaho nothing moved except on foot. When there was a big fire crew to be supplied, there could be as many as half a hundred mules and short-backed horses heaving and grunting up the narrow switchbacks and dropping extra large amounts of manure at the sharp turns. The ropes tying the animals together would jerk taut and stretch their connected necks into a straight line until they looked like dark gigantic swans circling and finally disappearing into a higher medium.

Bill was our head packer, and the Forest Service never had a better one. As head packer, [he] rode in front of the string, a study in angles. With black Stetson hat at a slant, he rode with his head turned almost backward from his body so he could watch to see if any of the packs were working loose. Later in life I was to see Egyptian bas-reliefs where the heads of men are looking one way and their bodies are going another, and so it is with good packers. After all, packing is the art of balancing packs and then seeing that they ride evenly—otherwise the animals will have saddle sores in a day or two and be out of business for all or most of the summer.

These examples show us the character through their movements, painting a “moving picture” with words.

Go on. See if you can “move” us with your words. 😀


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