What’s a Sconce?

Amber light rose from candle-shaped wall sconces. Cy watched an auburn-haired young man with the most startling green eyes attempting to brush his shoulders. “Nicky? Come play valet.”

Cy took a step back and fell onto a bed. Dust clouded around him, and the young man with the auburn hair was gone. Dawn pushed through moth-eaten curtains that not a second before were a thick brocade of burgundy flowers. The ceiling cracked above his head, and wood splintered, causing the corner of the bed to drop through.

Dodging falling beams and a screaming man in the hall whose arm had been set aflame, he ran past the stairs and had to double back. It took him five minutes to find the exit in the chaos, and the only one that opened had been the revolving door in the center. The cobblestone street in front of him had long since been deserted, and not even a bee buzzed on the soft breeze.

Descriptions are a pain. I wrote the above for a story called Blood and Time. Put it on a writing site, and the biggest question I got from readers was -What is a Sconce? And then I was told- You need to use smaller words.

Okay, well, some readers want those concise descriptions. If I break the sentence down- I did say exactly what a sconce is. First, it’s on the wall, and second, light is coming from it. 

Descriptions are hard. It’s a difference between saying- The curtains were suddenly holey and he saw the sunlight through the holes.


Dawn pushed through moth-eaten curtains that not a second before were a thick brocade of burgundy flowers.

There are so many writing rules, and remembering them all is hard. Writers have to practice each one over and over until we’ve mastered each one and it’s rote.

The rule for descriptions is to show instead of tell. Paint the reader an image with the words. We can’t just say the sky is blue. Someone will ask- what color blue?

We aren’t supposed to repeat words, either. The curtains were holey, and the sunlight was coming through the holes.

For writers, those words jump out when we are reading; along with every rule, we had to learn to TRY and make our stories perfect. I say try, because really, perfection to me is not perfection to someone else. It’s subjective.

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