Black Dog by JM Goyder

We are featuring this creative prose piece by Australian writer, JM Goyder, as an example of effective writing

Take a moment to read and appreciate. Pay attention to JM’s use of symbolism, detail and structure, because…

Next week we’re going to announce an open contest for short works, like this one (a prize will be awarded, and there’s no entry fee) .

We especially like how JM evokes emotion and stirs compassion without resorting to cheap sentimentality.  The waving hand in the mirror, in paragraph 4, foreshadows the loneliness explicit in the next-to-last paragraph’s details.

Well done, JM Goyder. And thank you for allowing us to publish your succinct, lovely prose. Readers, we encourage you to check out her blog (click here).

Black Dog

It is nearly the middle of the night here, down in the southwest of Western Australia. There is a gentle breeze outside, which just turned boisterous (as if insulted by being called gentle), and a strange crackling of distant thunder. The humidity is the kind that makes you feel like your whole face has melted off but, when you check the mirror, your face is still there.

It doesn’t exactly look like your face though; it looks like a sad person’s face. Strange.

What you have to do is to schedule the tears so that they don’t disturb other people. The best place for this is in the bathroom late at night, or else outside under the moon, or else in the car when you are going to the shop to get milk.

In the shop you have to smile and be jovial and sociable – quite easy when you are a seasoned actor. Your eyes are moist because of your hayfever. You can even carry the act home with you and smile at yourself in the bathroom mirror, and put your hand up to join your reflected hand just to say hello.

When you finally go to bed with your book, and your new reading glasses, with the fan breezing your skin, and the light on, you know a little bit of happy. But you also know that, at exactly midnight, you will have to move over in your bed to make room for the black dog.

It is nearly the middle of the night here, down in the southwest of Western Australia.

What do you notice about JM Goyder’s use of the writers’ tools of structure, detail and symbol?

(You can click on each tool-word in the above line, to review our articles about those tools).


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