9

I'm writing a short story, and here's where I'm stuck over word-choice:

I peered through the window with the slick navy blue curtains, swinging to and fro to the movement of the minibus, blocking my view to some extent. I could see my vague reflection on the misty window ______ my surroundings.

You're on a minibus. It's raining—just a light shower. You look at and through the window pane which is made of glass. Of course, you see your surroundings. But you also see a vague reflection of yourself, as well as the real outside through the glass window.

         trees, roads               ||||       you, your cat, the seats of the bus 
  (outside bus - surrounding)     (window)         (inside bus - reflection)

enter image description here

Your reflection's on the top of or over the picture of your surroundings. I want to describe exactly how it's on top of that.

It's floating over the picture of your surroundings? It's lightly pasted on that picture? It's acting like a two-way mirror?

What do you think should fill the blank?


EDIT: I want to convey the lightness or vagueness of the reflections over the surroundings. It's not another layer over your surroundings. Rather it just blends with it, very nicely and very subtly. You don't even notice it if you don't look hard enough.

The shorter the word/phrase, the better—since if too long a word goes before "...my surroundings" it gets hard to understand that your "surroundings" is something that you see on the window, along with your reflection. The "my surroundings" part gets further away from the main clause "I could see my [...]".

So far at one with and watermarking get the closest to what I had in mind.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – tchrist Jul 28 '17 at 23:13
  • 4
    Love love love the drawing! I feel your frustration but Lambie's deleted his post so folks are going to wonder why you felt the need to illustrate the situation. But keep it. Love the tree label :) – Mari-Lou A Aug 11 '17 at 6:49
  • @Mari-LouA Well, at least somebody appreciates my terrible drawing skills. :-) – Soha Farhin Pine Aug 11 '17 at 6:50
  • 1
    This is opinionated writing advice. Are you looking for a co-author? – Mitch Aug 13 '17 at 13:58
  • 2
    The "surroundings" must include not only what's outside, but what's inside and also reflected in the window. And you can't comprehend both the details of the reflections and the details of the surroundings without changing focus. The question needs to account for those facts, as does the word or phrase used. – JEL Aug 23 '17 at 2:07

14 Answers 14

2

It is a perfect blending of images, excellent. I can well imagine myself sitting in the mini bus and conceptualize the scene.

watermark

transitive verb

1: to mark (paper) with a watermark
2: to impress (a given design) as a watermark

for English Language Learners
: a design or symbol (such as the maker's name) that is made in a piece of paper and that can be seen when the paper is held up to the light

for Students
2 : a mark made in paper during manufacture that is visible when the paper is held up to the light

Fill in the blank with the word watermarking if it appeals to your fancy.


As an alternative, you may try the phrase "in a montage with", or only the participle form "montaging".

17

I'm not sure this is exactly what you're looking for, but perhaps it will help someone else get the word you want:

superimpose

VERB

[WITH OBJECT]

Place or lay (one thing) over another, typically so that both are still evident.
‘the number will appear on the screen, superimposed on a flashing button’
‘different stone tools were found in superimposed layers’

(From the Oxford Dictionaries)

So, in your sentence, it would be:

I peered through the window with the slick navy blue curtains, swinging to and fro to the movement of the minibus, blocking my view to some extent. I could see my vague reflection on the misty window superimposed on my surroundings.

I just thought of another option: overlay

According to the Oxford Dictionaries:

overlay

VERB

[WITH OBJECT]

  1. Cover the surface of (something) with a coating.
    ‘their fingernails were overlaid with silver or gold’

    1.1 Lie on top of.
    ‘a third screen which will overlay the others’

This gives:

I peered through the window with the slick navy blue curtains, swinging to and fro to the movement of the minibus, blocking my view to some extent. I could see my vague reflection on the misty window overlaying my surroundings.

Hope this helps!

-----------------------------------------------------------------

I have a few more suggestions, based on recent discussion:

embrace -- Your reflection is there but enveloped by the stronger image of the surroundings. If you wanted to indicate a sense of belonging or feeling at home in the surroundings (or even just an affinity for them), this could work. Your sentence would be:

I could see my vague reflection on the misty window embraced by my surroundings.

Per the Oxford Dictionaries:

embrace

VERB

  1. with object Hold (someone) closely in one's arms, especially as a sign of affection.
    ‘Aunt Sophie embraced her warmly’
    [no object] ‘the two embraced, holding each other tightly’

  2. Accept (a belief, theory, or change) willingly and enthusiastically.
    ‘besides traditional methods, artists are embracing new technology’

  3. Include or contain (something) as a constituent part.
    ‘his career embraces a number of activities—composing, playing, and acting’

infuse -- Your reflection has become a part of the view out of the window, infused in your view. Thus:

I could see my vague reflection on the misty window infused with my surroundings.

Per the Oxford Dictionaries:

infuse

VERB

[WITH OBJECT]

  1. Fill; pervade.
    ‘her work is infused with an anger born of pain and oppression’

1.1 Instil (a quality) in someone or something.
‘he did his best to infuse good humour into his voice’

shadow -- It's not actually you, but a shadow of yourself.

I could see my vague reflection on the misty window, a shadow on my surroundings.

Per the Oxford Dictionaries:

shadow

VERB

[WITH OBJECT]

  1. Envelop in shadow; cast a shadow over.
    ‘the market is shadowed by St Margaret's church’ ‘a hood shadowed her face’

ghost -- Even more abstract, I think I like this best.

I could see my vague reflection on the misty window, a ghost in my surroundings.
I could see my vague reflection on the misty window, a ghost haunting my surroundings.

Per the Oxford Dictionaries:

ghost

NOUN

  1. An apparition of a dead person which is believed to appear or become manifest to the living, typically as a nebulous image.
    ‘the building is haunted by the ghost of a monk’
    [as modifier] ‘a ghost ship’

1.1 A slight trace or vestige of something.
‘she gave the ghost of a smile’

1.2 A faint secondary image caused by a fault in an optical system, duplicate signal transmission, etc.
‘What we saw were clearly ghosts from the static image we'd left on the screen.’

Note especially definitions 1.1 and 1.2.

  • 1
    You get four upvotes and how is this not "writing advice"?? Reflections inside a bus in a window are not superimposed on surroundings. That makes zero sense. – Lambie Jul 26 '17 at 15:52
  • 2
    @Lambie - No, it makes perfect sense. Superimposed (or overlaid) is exactly what they are, when "surroundings" is what is outside the window. – AndyT Jul 26 '17 at 16:28
  • 1
    @AndyT No, no and no. The sentence says "my surroundings", which leads any informed reader to believe they are inside the bus. Not outside of it. "my vague reflection in the misty window superimposed on my surroundings" cannot mean outside the damn bus. grhhh. :). No wonder I am confused. – Lambie Jul 26 '17 at 18:19
  • 2
    @Lambie -- I interpreted surroundings as being the surroundings of the person+bus combined unit. That is, if I'm driving along a mountain road, my surroundings might consist of trees, streams, rocks, deer, etc., not just my car and the crap my kids have left in it. So the window forms a picture of what's outside the bus (the surrounding countryside) and my reflection is indeed superimposed upon that picture. My only problem with superimpose is that it is not as poetic as I suspect the OP would like it to be. – Roger Sinasohn Jul 27 '17 at 19:04
  • @RogerSinasohn Question updated. – Soha Farhin Pine Aug 22 '17 at 11:14
3

You can go with dissolve here.

I could see my vague reflection on the misty window, dissolve into my surroundings as a heavy downpour hit the panes.

(I added a part to the sentence to get into that feel. Can be omitted.)

2

In light of the most recent editing of the question, you could use:

merge: 'to blend gradually by stages that blur distinctions'

I could see my vague reflection on the misty window, merging with my surroundings.

Or you could choose words with a similar 'merging/almost hiding' sense, such as 'coalescing', 'veiled by', 'fused with'.

2
+50

Because you are writing a story, your word choice here will vary greatly by your writing style and the nature of your character (who is speaking in first person). Other answers here have already given good choices for words that describe the physical phenomenon of your reflection appearing over your surroundings, but you have an opportunity to color your character through the narrator's word choice here.

I peered through the window with the slick navy blue curtains, swinging to and fro to the movement of the minibus, blocking my view to some extent. I could see my vague reflection on the misty window ______ my surroundings.

  • draped quietly across
  • shyly coloring
  • mingling among
  • dancing through
  • gazing back from

One approach to the word choice problem here that would work well is to choose an action that echoes the character of your narrator and turn it into a metaphor. There are so many ways to do this that I'm not confident I can pick the best metaphor for your character. Hopefully the examples I've given put you on a productive track.

Alternately, if you really just want to describe the lightness of the reflection, consider "obscured among" or "hidden among".

1

I too am taking a few artistic routes, specifically from the world of print-making.

Etched: to outline clearly or sharply; delineate, as a person's features or character. (Though this may not work too well with 'vague'):

I could see my vague reflection on the misty window etched into my surroundings.

Inscribed: I particularly like the meaning 'to draw within a figure so as to touch in as many places as possible':

I could see my vague reflection on the misty window inscribed on my surroundings.

Chased: 'To decorate by engraving or embossing':

I could see my vague reflection on the misty window chased onto my surroundings.

Embossed: 'Having a moulded or carved decoration or design on the surface so that it is raised above the surface in low relief'

I could see my vague reflection on the misty window embossed onto my surroundings.

  • 1
    Wonderful list of suggestions! But the only problem is the words all refer to an image being inscribed over a surface. That's not how you see reflections on a window surface. – Soha Farhin Pine Aug 22 '17 at 9:50
  • Question updated. – Soha Farhin Pine Aug 22 '17 at 11:12
1

"... set against the backdrop of the surroundings"

Since it's not exactly a "single-word" or "phrase" the question may qualify more as "writing advice" (not sure, though), which is OT.

However, if backdrop is a helpful concept here, then it works.

  • This works too. But not exactly what I had in mind. It doesn't meet the criterion I set in my question. – Soha Farhin Pine Aug 22 '17 at 10:42
  • Question updated. – Soha Farhin Pine Aug 22 '17 at 11:11
1

In light of your additional comments (originally in relation to shroud):

I want to convey the lightness or vagueness of the reflections over the surroundings. It's not another layer over my surroundings. Rather it just blends with it, very nicely and very subtlely. You don't even notice it if you don't look hard enough.

I offer tinge and bleed over (or bleed into) and have combined them into one answer, preserving my earlier suggestions that led to these two:


tinge

verb: tinge; 3rd person present: tinges; past tense: tinged; past participle: tinged; gerund or present participle: tinging; gerund or present participle: tingeing

  1. colour slightly. "a mass of white blossom tinged with pink"
    • permeate or imbue slightly with a feeling or quality. "this visit will be tinged with sadness", "his optimism is tinged with realism"

noun: tinge; plural noun: tinges

  1. a trace of a colour. "there was a faint pink tinge to the sky", "the light had a blue tinge to it"
    • a slight trace of a feeling or quality. "in their sound you'll find punky tinges and folky tinges", "a tinge of cynicism appeared in his writing"

This gives:

I peered through the window with the slick navy blue curtains, swinging to and fro to the movement of the minibus, blocking my view to some extent. I could see my vague reflection on the misty window tingeing my surroundings.


bleed

verb; gerund or present participle: bleeding

  1. (of a liquid substance such as dye or colour) seep into an adjacent colour or area. "I worked loosely with the oils, allowing colours to bleed into one another"
    • PRINTING (with reference to an illustration or design) print or be printed so that it runs off the page after trimming. "the picture bleeds on three sides"

Leading to:

I peered through the window with the slick navy blue curtains, swinging to and fro to the movement of the minibus, blocking my view to some extent. I could see my vague reflection on the misty window bleeding over|into my surroundings.


shroud

noun: shroud; plural noun: shrouds

  1. a thing that envelops or obscures something. "a shroud of mist"

verb: shroud; 3rd person present: shrouds; past tense: shrouded; past participle: shrouded; gerund or present participle: shrouding

  1. cover or envelop so as to conceal from view. "mountains shrouded by cloud", "a sea mist shrouded the jetties"

This conveys the (partial) concealing of the surroundings by the author's reflection:

I peered through the window with the slick navy blue curtains, swinging to and fro to the movement of the minibus, blocking my view to some extent. I could see my vague reflection on the misty window shrouding my surroundings.

If you want to avoid the "double -ing" (from shrouding and surroundings) you could use the noun form: "...vague reflection on the misty window, a shroud on my surroundings."


veneer

noun: veneer; plural noun: veneers

  1. a thin decorative covering of fine wood applied to a coarser wood or other material. "a fine-grained veneer"

    • a layer of wood used to make plywood.
    • an attractive appearance that covers or disguises someone or something's true nature or feelings. "her veneer of composure cracked a little"

verb: veneer; 3rd person present: veneers; past tense: veneered; past participle: veneered; gerund or present participle: veneering

  1. cover (something) with a decorative layer of fine wood. "a veneered cabinet"

    • cover or disguise (someone or something's true nature) with an attractive appearance. "he exuded an air of toughness, lightly veneered by the impeccably tailored suit"

Using the "attractive appearance" / "disguise" sense, somewhat poetically, you could have:

I peered through the window with the slick navy blue curtains, swinging to and fro to the movement of the minibus, blocking my view to some extent. I could see my vague reflection on the misty window, a veneer on my surroundings.

(Using the noun form seems more natural here, although you could have "...vague reflection on the misty window verneering my surroundings.").

As an added bonus, you get some alliteration with "vague".

  • Hmm...nice one. But I want to convey the lightness or vagueness of the reflections over the surroundings. It's not another layer over my surroundings. Rather it just blends with it, very nicely and very subtlely. You don't even notice it if you don't look hard enough. – Soha Farhin Pine Aug 22 '17 at 9:52
  • Another thought: "misty window, tingeing my surroundings"? – TripeHound Aug 22 '17 at 9:57
  • Wow! Good one! That's more like what I had in mind. – Soha Farhin Pine Aug 22 '17 at 10:42
  • Question updated. – Soha Farhin Pine Aug 22 '17 at 11:11
1

Not to be too obvious here, but you did use the word blend in your question and others used it to explain their answers.

Maybe you could use 'blend' itself in the short story, as in

I could see my vague reflection on the misty window, blending with my surroundings.

Or,

I could see my vague reflection on the misty window, blending into my surroundings.

The reason I suggest 'blend' is because that is exactly what your vague reflection is doing. Sometimes it is more effective to use a simple word rather than a 'more poetic' one, if it will help the reader form an accurate 'mind picture' of what you want to convey.

So consider 'blend' and be sure to post a link to the whole short story, if you have published it online, OK!


Note: I later found that @Mari-lou A has already suggested 'my reflection (...) floated and blended into my surroundings' in a comment on August 5th.

  • I've just deleted the comment before seeing your revision. Sorry! – Mari-Lou A Aug 27 '17 at 5:14
  • It's quite OK, @Mari-lou A -- besides, 'floated and blended' seems a good option for OP. – English Student Aug 27 '17 at 6:41
  • Awesome answer...simplicity is always the best. – Soha Farhin Pine Aug 28 '17 at 23:43
  • Thank you @Soha Farhin Pine -- on the other hand, as shown by the 5 excellent suggestions in the answer that won the bounty: when it comes to creative writing, 2 words are often more expressive than one! – English Student Aug 29 '17 at 8:14
0

I think haunting. The image would be like a ghost seen over the view.

Great for setting up foreboding.

0

Love your story; love your mini-bus.

1. at one with

I could see my vague reflection on the misty window—at one with my surroundings.

And I can hardly wait to read the rest.

2. barely visible over

I could see my vague reflection on the misty window—barely visible over my surroundings.

Ahhh, taking into consideration your Question update of yesterday, I think I may have just the words.

3. visually whispering to

I could see my vague reflection on the misty window—visually whispering to my surroundings.

EDIT: I want to convey the lightness or vagueness of the reflections over the surroundings. …just blends with it, very nicely and very subtly. You don't even notice it if you don't look hard enough.

A whisper can be so soft that you don’t even notice it if you don’t listen hard enough.

Whisper: speaking very softly using one's breath without one's vocal cords… (from Online Dictionary)

If the perception you are describing were sound based rather than vision based, a perfect word to describe it would be, “whispering.”

I think there may not be an English word that is the visual equivalent of, “to whisper.”

But I don’t think the word gods would disallow the repurposing of such a perfectly descriptive word from the audio realm if it were for a good cause.

And what better cause than to poetically communicate “the lightness or vagueness of the reflections over the surroundings. …just blend(ing) with it, very nicely and very subtly. You don't even notice it if you don't look hard enough."

A whisper can be barely audible – the same way your reflection is barely visible.

https://www.google.com/search?q=whispering&oq=whispering&gs_l=psy-ab.3..0l2j0i20k1l2.141141.143188.0.143676.11.11.0.0.0.0.418.1605.0j6j0j1j1.8.0....0...1.1.64.psy-ab..3.8.1605.6..35i39k1j0i131k1j0i67k1.-8k7ECNB7T8

Online Dictionary

whis•per ˈ(h)wispər/ verb gerund or present participle: whispering

speaking very softly using one's breath without one's vocal cords…

  • Aww. Thanks for the compliments. I really am flattered. The phrase fits in very nicely too. Actually the story was finished a long time ago, I'm currently revising it. I post my stories on sites like Wattpad and ShortStories101. – Soha Farhin Pine Aug 22 '17 at 11:07
  • Question updated. – Soha Farhin Pine Aug 22 '17 at 11:13
0

Perhaps

"I could see my vague reflection on the misty window festooning my surroundings."

VERB

[WITH OBJECT] often be festooned with Adorn (a place) with chains, garlands, or other decorations. ‘the staffroom was festooned with balloons and streamers’

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/festoon

This would reflect the way your reflection impacts a wide area of what you can see, and also the pleasing effect it imparts.

(This could also be modified in some way, such as '...as it were festooning my surroundings')

-1

I'm going to take some artistic license with this answer since it seems to me that is what the OP is looking for.

For the benefit of literary aesthetics and depending on mood, I would recommend:

Sift

to scatter by or as if by sifting; sift sugar on a cake

I could see my vague reflection on the misty window sifting my surroundings.

or,

Percolate

to be diffused through

I could see my vague reflection on the misty window percolating my surroundings.

or,

Soft

to make soft or softer

I could see my vague reflection on the misty window soften on my surroundings.

Other possible options are: Deliquesce, Relent, Yield, Surrender, Cede, Relinquish, Concede

EDIT: Notice you seem to be looking for something that is not literal to the circumstances but a romanticized version of it. As so, and again considering literary aesthetics (always subjective but an opinion is an opinion) and the various possible moods of the scene you wish to convey (harmony, apathy, anxiety, etc.):

Coalesce (neutral, apathy)

1: to grow together The edges of the wound coalesced.

2: to unite into a whole : fuse

3: to arise from the combination of distinct elements

or,

Entangle (bad, anxious)

1: to wrap or twist together : interweave

2: to involve in a perplexing or troublesome situation;

or,

Cleave (firm, serious)

to adhere firmly and closely or loyally and unwaveringly

or,

Wed (romantic)

1: to take for wife or husband by a formal ceremony : marry

2: to join in marriage

Espouse (romantic)

to take up and support as a cause : become attached to

or,

Weave (neutral)

to interlace especially to form a texture, fabric, or design

  • Loved the drawing BTW. – armatita Aug 11 '17 at 13:04
  • Thanks. :-))) Loved your answer, as well. Interesting suggestions! Definitely will keep in mind! If nothing good comes, I'll accept your answer. – Soha Farhin Pine Aug 13 '17 at 6:10
  • Question updated. – Soha Farhin Pine Aug 22 '17 at 11:14
  • @SohaFarhinPine I've updated the answer but notice that by transforming your question into something opinion based its a matter of time before the moderators close it or put it on hold. – armatita Aug 22 '17 at 12:13
  • I've discovered that on the contrary, it was a matter of time before the moderators protected it. – Soha Farhin Pine Sep 19 '17 at 15:40
-1

Okay. This is essentially a creative writing question, not just looking for a synonym. I think vague and misty are vague and misty. You want to capture the image in a way that hasn't been done before.Psychologically, you're trying to blend the character with the exterior world.

I could see my reflection floating as if within the glass that harbored the outside world.

You need something that says the purpose of the glass is to allow the outside world to enter; the character imposes her reflection on that world.

  • 1
    Your interpretation is absolutely right. Loved it! – Soha Farhin Pine Aug 27 '17 at 20:59

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.