The lighting was persuasively unflattering…

Word count: 289 words

Reading time: Just over 1 minute

A great way to improve your writing skills is to emulate the work of others. That’s why, every week, I present a sentence that I’d happily imitate. Today’s comes from Rebecca Mead via The New Yorker.

I’m a big believer in reading aloud to children. When my kids (now almost 19-years-old — they’re triplets) were young, I read until my throat became raw. My own mother used to remark that my kids had a PhD in delaying bedtime! One of our favourite novels was Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.

Of course we went to see the movie and that’s where we met AnnaSophia Robb (pictured above) who played the central character, Opal. Robb also starred in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Bridge to Terabithia. 

Reading the Jan. 7/13 New Yorker, I learned that Robb is currently starring as Carrie Bradshaw, in the series The Carrie Diaries, a prequel to Sex and the City. Rebecca Mead wrote the blurb (it appears in the front end of the magazine in the “Talk of the Town” section) and produced a sentence that made me smile:

The lighting was persuasively unflattering, even if the carpet was implausibly clean.

She was talking about a set designed to replicate a dressing room. But I love those adverbs! And the personification! It’s true that lighting is one of those things that seems to take on a life of its own. And carpets just don’t seem to want to stay clean, do they?

For so many years I steered clear of adverbs, convinced they were practically poisonous. Now I see how they can be put to effective use, if the writer is clever enough.