Sparks twisted by like formations of tiny burning birds

jacdac

Senior Member
Lebanese
It was gaining speed, the trench walls passing more quickly to either side. The sky widened out ahead –it was a dull gunmetal color. Sparks twisted by like formations of tiny burning birds.
Source: The Tommyknockers by Stephen King

In this scene, the alien ship (flying saucer) is moving up into the air from its bedrock position in the excavated trench. The surrounding wood area and residence are burning.

What does the bolded expression mean?

Thank you.
 
  • Franco-filly

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England
    "like formations of tiny birds" means "as though had taken the form of tiny burning birds" i.e. as the sparks twisted past they resembled tiny birds. [Not that they were flying in formation]
     

    DaylightDelight

    Senior Member
    Japanese - Tokyo
    Hi, Franco,
    I'm afraid I can't seem to grasp the sentence in the way you describe it.
    Could you tell me which meaning is closest to this usage?:
    From WR dictionary:
    1. the act or process of forming or the state of being formed
      the formation of ice.
    2. the manner in which a thing is formed; formal structure or arrangement:
      a formation of jet planes.
      planes flying in formation.
    3. development; creation; establishment
      The Pilgrims' goal was the formation of a colony in the New World.
     

    jacdac

    Senior Member
    Lebanese
    Thank you.

    What does twist past mean in this context?
    What does spark mean in this context? Is it the flash (or sudden discharge of ions) as the ship lifts up into air? in other words, flash of lights intertwined into birds formation shape?

    Thank you again.
     
    Last edited:

    DaylightDelight

    Senior Member
    Japanese - Tokyo
    What does twist past mean in this context?
    I imagine those sparks don't fly in straight lines, but in twisted, whirling and unpredictable ways.
    What does sparks mean in this context? Is it the sudden discharge of ions as the ship lifts up into air?
    From your description that the surrounding wood was on fire, I think they are real fire sparks - flying small specs of burning bits.
    Or are there some descriptions about ion discharge or some such nearby?
    Sparks:
    spark.jpg

    Twisting:
    8845526_1472033907.jpg
     

    Franco-filly

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England
    Hi, Franco,
    I'm afraid I can't seem to grasp the sentence in the way you describe it.
    Could you tell me which meaning is closest to this usage?:
    From WR dictionary
    I see it as this one. 1. the act or process of forming or the state of being formed
    the formation of ice.
    The sparks are being formed into bird-like shapes.
    What does spark mean in this context?
    From the WR dictionary:
    spark1/spɑrk/ n. [countable]

    1. a fiery particle thrown off by burning wood or that may be produced by one hard body striking against another:Sparks flew into the air while the firewood burned. I believe the sides of the ship are rubbing against the walls of the crater.
    What does twist past mean in this context?
    Go past / go by in a twisting movement.
     

    jacdac

    Senior Member
    Lebanese
    Thank you. I got it now. It takes some imagination to see the formation of burning birds.
     

    DaylightDelight

    Senior Member
    Japanese - Tokyo
    I see it as this one. 1. the act or process of forming or the state of being formed
    the formation of ice.
    The sparks are being formed into bird-like shapes.
    I think I'm beginning to get it...
    It's the difference between "like tiny burning birds in formation" and "like formations of tiny burning birds."
    Am I right?
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    In combination with "bird" and "flight", the word "formation" inevitably suggests the patterns in which some birds fly, like the V shape of flying geese.

    Here it does not necessarily suggest that the sparks were in V shapes, only that patterns were apparent in their distribution - maybe just clusters.
     
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