As I continue seeking to be better at description, I took on a new task for me: Beta Reading. It’s funny – I can see the issues in this other person’s story, but I can’t catch the same types in my own writing. I am hoping that learning to critique the writings of others will help me to become a better writer. Perhaps I can rewrite with an eye towards finding those types of issues in my own writing. Not long today…just letting you know that I haven’t stopped trying to grow.
So tonight, I’m changing gears and pictures. I’m using a picture I took of the Super Moon rising and referencing a few other pics along the way. Is the description done well, over done, or underdone. Is it appropriate for the subject? Is there anything I left out that I should have included? Did I include stuff I should have left out? No plans to use it except for this exercise, but you never know. Thanks for your feedback.
The sun’s rays slowly faded away leaving the water in darkness. Across the bay to the east the construction continued under lights that pierced through the darkness. New oil rigs would soon be heading out into the gulf. Off to the north, The Lexington was highlighted with purple lights, the ghosts of wars past flying around as if protecting her.
Off to the east, it began as a few small rays of soft orange light peeping over the horizon. The light struggled with the darkness, making little headway in its battle at first. Then, the light advanced upward conquering the nearby darkness but without the power of the morning light. Soon, a sliver of moon eased up over the horizon, barely visible at first, but growing larger and larger to menace the darkness. Darkness fled before the coming moon and the initial rays of orange soon turned into a soft, golden gleam. Continuing the struggle, the moon fought through the darkness that sought to keep it imprisoned and broke free, popping over the shore in the east. The giant golden ball spread its light over the waters that quietly lapped at the wall by my feet sharing its gold with the cold, dark waters of the bay.
A different mood today. Same rules as yesterday. Is the description 1) Underdone, 2) Overdone, 3) about right? What kind of mood am I trying to set. Here’s the picture of the study again, although we start in the outer office.
The light behind the desk made me blink. I had to avert my eyes as I said, “I have an appointment.” My comment was met by silence. I tried to look at the lady typing. I put a hand in front of my eyes and saw a tight black bun, rounded shoulders from typing, and wrinkled hands on a keyboard. I cleared my throat to get ready to remind her.
“Heard you,” she snapped. “Name?”
“Pastor Charles,” I said.
I think she turned down the air conditioning as she said, “Obviously. What’s your name?” She stared over the top of her half glasses letting me know that I was beneath her effort.
“I’m sorry. I’m Merle Ambrose,” I said hoping she might thaw out.
She sniffed. “Go ahead and sit down. Pastor Charles will call for you when he’s ready.” She looked back down at her typing. The only thing I could hear was her nails hitting the keyboard. That is until a door slammed shut and a young lady came rushing by, wiping her sniffles with her sleeve. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she headed out the door to the street. That inner door flew open as a man slammed it open to run after her. I saw Pastor Charles walking out of the darkness of the room, shaking his head.
“Pastor,” the secretary broke into his reverie. “That’s Merle Ambrose. He has an…”
Pastor Charles frowned. “…appointment. Yes, Vivian. Thank you.” He looked at me. “The study’s over here,” he said pointing to the door.
I realized that was his invitation and got up. He followed me into the study, closing the door behind him. I blinked to help my eyes adjust to the light, or perhaps it would be better to say the lack of light. The only light in the room came from the window behind the desk, but even that light flickered in shadows.
“We had the lights off for an exercise we were doing,” he explained. Then he flipped the switch for the overhead light. It didn’t help much. He walked over to his desk and sat down in an avocado green swivel chair. He poured himself a mug of coffee and the aroma filled the air. I wasn’t sure if he was going to offer me some, or not. I hoped he would.
When he turned around I saw that the golden words “Preach the Word of the Lord” stood out on the blue background of the mug. He gestured with his mug towards the couch. The ivory fabric on the couch was accented with a golden brocade. “Sit down, Merle,” he said. “I’m concerned by some of the things I’ve heard and I wanted to discuss them with you.”
I took a picture from the Internet and tried to set a mood from the picture that would go along with a story idea. The picture is of a pastor’s study and a meeting with one of the members. So, what kind of mood do you think I was trying to set? Is the description 1) overdone, 2) underdone, or 3) about right? I appreciate your comments and your help. I plan on writing the same scene tomorrow with a different mood.
Meeting with the Pastor
“The pastor’s in his study right now,” his administrative aide said as I walked in. “Administrative Aide,” I thought. “I still prefer ‘secretary.’” “That’s fine, I can wait,” I said noting that her hands never stopped typing on the keyboard in front of her.
She did stop her typing long enough to pick up the phone. She punched in the extension to the pastor’s study. “Yes, Pastor. Your one o’clock appointment is here.”
She paused, her long, manicured fingernails clicking on her desk. “Yes sir, to the study? Really?” Her eyes opened wide and a perfectly groomed eyebrow shot up over her right eye. “Yes sir,” she responded. “Of course I can trust your judgment.”
Obviously, she didn’t trust it if the look she gave me as she hung up the phone was any indication. “Follow me.” She sighed as she beckoned, taking me out of the office and down the hall. She didn’t knock, but opened the oaken door carefully, as if giving the pastor time to say “No.”
Pastor Charles was already standing to greet me. His hands were rough as we shook, which surprised me. I never figured a pastor would do physical work. “Hello, Merle. Happy to meet you face to face.”
“Thanks for agreeing to meet me, Pastor Charles,” I said. The study smelled like coffee – hazelnut if I knew my coffee aromas.
“Have a seat,” he said, gesturing to the couch beside his desk. He walked to his desk, poured a cup, and then looked over his shoulder at me. The sun shining through the window reflected off his hair, giving him a glow. “Forgot to ask,” he said. “Coffee?”
“Please,” I answered. “black.”
He handed me the cup and my hands curled around it, embracing the warmth. I sniffed the steam, trying to take the chill out of my body. The sun flickering in the window lied as it made me forget about how cold it was outside. “So what can…” he stopped when his phone rang. The strains of “You Raise Me Up” filled the room. “My wife,” he said, embarrassed by the interruption. “Forgive me.” He answered and began talking.
I got up and walked to the other edge of the room. This bookcase was filled with older volumes and the musty smell filled my nostrils. This was much like my father’s library. I shivered as I thought about that, then I realize that maybe dad would enjoy talking old books with Pastor Charles. There was always a chance.
One of the things that separates the author from a writer or a story teller is the craft. Craft inovlves the way you put together a story so that it works together, paces well, and generally flows well. It’s knowing when to show and when to tell. I am going to be working on craft as I continue my writing. The first area I’m going to tackle is description. I love reading well written description. It makes the scene come alive to me. I just have not felt comfortable writing description. When I write it, I feel like it’s overdone and “hokey” if I can use that word. The only way to work on description is to do it, so, I’m planning on working on description in a few different ways. Over the next week (?) I’ll be doing some descriptive writing. I’ll be posting it here for you to critique. I’m pretty good at taking criticism and try to use it as a springboard to grow. I’ll include my feelings about the writing after the selection. What I eventually want to hear is “Nailed it” (and not like those pinterest memes.) I don’t expect to nail it at first, so I would appreciate any feedback. If you have any ideas to help me as I go through this journey: websites, techniques, descriptive exercises, good examples of descriptive writing – please share them. I appreciate any and all help. Thanks in advance!
I just discovered that I won the #WOW555 Challenge about getting inside the head of my villain. (see previous post) Thanks to those who voted for me and for the tiebreaker system. This week’s prompt is going to be a challenge for me. I’m not that strong on descriptive writing. I have an idea, though!
In your NaNo project, or in a completely unrelated scene, what is a symbolic color or image you are using? Our prompt today is for you to provide us with a scene that uses a color or image symbolically.
Don’t forget, the call for entries will come out on Friday. You’ll have from 5-5 CST to submit your response.
Click the trophy to get to the site. Happy Writing all!