AshEdit—News About Books & Writers

July 10, 2011

Deconstructing T. Jefferson Parker – A Scene from The Border Lords

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 3:22 pm

                                                                                                   In this post:

THE BORDER LORDS excerpted, followed by analysis.

Did you get kidnapped by this excerpt too? I did. From the first sentence, I was transported to that cave where I smelled and felt bat guano under my feet. The writing called on my sense-memory of smell and sound as much as sight. Often. writers are so caught up in plots twists and action, that we neglect descriptive time-outs like this. Action subdues for a moment, allowing the reader a great uptake of ambiance and texture.

How many choices did Parker go through before settling on the words that describe the first bat as it, “came toward him, wobbling and breeze-blown, like a black snowflake ahead of a storm.” It’s a pretty safe bet he took his time through many drafts and contemplations. The whole scene is a work of great care. The cadence of the words, the way the sentences fit together, the way the visual descriptions unfold cinematically, is masterful. Scenes like these make a strong argument for why Parker is a three-time Edgar Award winner.

A bat ran across his path, wings upraised like a tiny man with an umbrella, looking back and up at him.” In order to write that sentence, Parker had to have more than a passing acquaintance with bats, their nature, and the mechanics of their movement. He places us in the shoes of the priest in the cave and lets us see through his eyes. By the end, we know bats a whole lot better, just as the priest does, and the story moves forward as we wonder what is he doing there?  —Elaine Ash



  1. Good scene. Attention grabbing.

    Comment by charlesgramlich — July 10, 2011 @ 10:04 pm

  2. Hi Elaine

    This is slightly unrelated, however I learnt a lot from you and your analysis of the excerpt from TJ Parkers book The Border Lords.

    I hate creepy stuff to read it really messes with my mind so much that it stops me from sleeping so ordinarily I wouldn’t read such a book,

    What was enlightening though was how you highlighted the mental thought process we all went through, becoming kidnapped by a short excerpt. Also that the fact we became integrated fully into the story like we were there and could see that bats, cave and smell them, for ourselves as if we were there. That is a neat statement and has moved my thinking to my writing though very poor and weak.

    My English suck’s, but reading your comments made me really think about my purpose with writing, I think I write to express my own feelings so I understand myself better.
    But It’s rarely interesting due to my lack of skill.

    I like writing for myself and reading or listening to helpful things to learn from.. Which sounds a good thing to say, but what really stood out to me from the excerpt and your comments is that writing or even reading shouldn’t be selfish.

    It’s a totally giving action or at least it should be,the skill is obviously something I’m yet to posses as my own.

    Writing to give someone else a pleasurable experience must be awesome.

    I consider myself to be quite a creative person in some area’s, but in other ares of that I’m just a dumb a**. Like I said, I read a lot, but the thing is until today and reading your analysis, I’ve realised I was missing something quite potent, when I read anything that influences me to feel something or take action I never ever pay attention as why it did, I got the what, I just missed the why, why that word or collection of words moved me, I just know that it did and carry on.

    I never think to ask myself why it influenced me the way that it did. That has never entered my mind until today.

    Big mistake I guess for a person who’s Blogging.

    Now I’m about as musical as a doughnut I don’t understand how it works at all,with my writing I’m the same.

    When I write I just write and hope, sure I might have a great title and idea but that’s as far as it goes,truthfully, that’s like me sitting down at a piano in a packed auditorium and hitting random key’s for and hour hoping people like what they had just paid to listen too.
    Would it influence them or move them of course it would, To Leave after about 3 second’s.

    Elaine you been so kind and sweet to me with your encouraging comment’s beyond what I deserve, thank you though.

    Today You have really influenced me and my thinking and opened up a whole new world by your analysis above I hope that you do that often as it really helped me to see things differently.

    I know, that I won’t write better over nite and that it takes lots of practice followed by a lot more practice, but thinking about and having a desired outcome before I write is a better way.

    It’s not what you write, but the how and why you write the what

    I loved your article today, Thank you for you influencing words.

    Ian Soon to be homeless. UK

    Comment by Ian @ — July 10, 2011 @ 11:14 pm

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