Fog up the river, fog down the river

The second sentence is a more complicated, but if you look closely you'll see an elegant pattern:

Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls deified among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city.

The sentence elaborates on 'fog everywhere' with a broad gesture between two poles along an axis: up and down.

Each of those poles gets half the sentence: The fog is up the river, and the fog is down the river.

Contrasting the poles

It might not register with you on first reading, but Dickens makes a contrast between those two poles: 

  • Up the river it's green meadows and farmland
  • Down the river it's polluted industrial docklands

The contrast helps define the scale of the city: so big that it's completely different from one end to the other.

When writing your variation, you might be able to use a similar contrast to create interest and scale.

"What's an ait?"

Good question! An ait (or eyot) is a slender island in a river or stream, created by sedimentary deposits.

Illustration of an ait in the Thames

This sentence has two parts divided by a semicolon. (If you've done the Writelike semicolons lesson, you'll recognise this as the "it was this; it was also that" pattern.)

The sentence breaks down like this:

  • Pole 1: Show the intrusion in a location at one end of this place.
  • Detail 1: Give us some detail about what that location is like.
  • Semicolon: Connect with a semicolon.
  • Pole 2: Show the intrusion in a location at the opposite end of this place.
  • Detail 2: Give us some detail about what this second location is like (ideally contrasting with the first).
  • Expansion: Add some additional detail to the description.

For our sweat example, we're going to experiment with this snippet by using two poles at a much smaller scale: head to toe.

Sweat in hair, from where it drips onto eyebrows and noses; sweat on feet, where it soaks into socks and pools gooey in the bottom of rubbery airless shoes.

For our gator example we'll go bigger and use compass points:

Gators to the north, where they lurk in lonely wetlands and lakes; gators to the south, where they slop lazily around the crowded waterfronts and alongside the passenger-laden ferries of this popular tourist town.

Write your variation here.