Today I’m using a visual prompt for my writing exercise. One of my biggest challenges as an author is writing good, descriptive setting. I tend to write lean, with only a rough, skeletal sketch of the surroundings. This is largely because I’m not a fan of reading huge chunks of text about setting. I tend to skim that part. However, there are many, many readers who want the full experience. They want the author to drop them into the setting so hard that they feel like they need a map to get back home.
With that in mind, today I’m going to focus more heavily on building a scene. You all can let me know if it’s an epic fail.
As always, you all are invited to do the writing exercise along with me by posting your results in the comment section below. I look forward to reading what you come up with.
Sharon leaned against the rail as she sipped her wine, a fruity white zin that almost made her smile despite the circumstances. The murky water churned against the sides of the ferry, spreading as if resentful of the disruption. She thought about pouring the wine over the edge. She needed to maintain a clear head, and any fish that could survive in that sludge deserved a nice drink to help pass the time.
“What are you doing over here all by yourself,” Ronaldo, their host for the evening, asked in what he probably thought was a charming, flirty voice. Sharon was not charmed, and he was certainly not her type so the flirting held little appeal.
She sipped her wine and tried to muster a bit more of a smile. She was still working, after all, and needed to keep up appearances. While Ronaldo smiled at her, blissfully unaware of how disinterested she was in his groomed to perfection, manish self, Sharon glanced over his shoulder to his wife, Renee. It made smiling just that much easier. And, frankly, that much harder as well.
“Just catching a bit of a break.” She brought her gaze back to Ronaldo. If she focused on the dimple in his left cheek, rather than the five-o’clock shadow, the over-gelled hair, and the smartly waxed mustache, it wasn’t so bad. Better than the sullen brown water she’d been staring at. Barely.
“You must come and rejoin us. Renee has a question for you.” He gesture toward his wife with a sweep of his arm and a slight bow.
Sharon barely contained her sigh as she glanced over her shoulder one last time. The Paris skyline rose up on the banks of the river behind her, and she could just make out the top half of the Eiffel Tower. Perhaps if she pushed Ronaldo into the drink, Renee would be more inclined to ask her question while naked. It would be easy. The rail was at just the right height, and though he carried easily a hundred pounds more than she did, she knew the finer points of maneuvering opponents much larger than him.
Renee caught her eye and gestured invitingly, a sultry smirk on the edge of her lips as if she knew exactly what Sharon had fantasized about doing to her.
Before moving away from the rail, Sharon downed the rest of her wine. In order to play nice while watching Ronaldo paw at Renee as if he owned her, she would need it. Plus a whole lot more. “Of course, darling. Be a dear and refill my glass, would you?”
3 thoughts on “Writing Exercise – Conjuring an Image”
I didn’t know her name. But the way she stared at me as she raised the wine glass to her lips said she wanted to know mine. There is a restaurant right on the water and it serves the best seafood in the city. And the wait… oh the wait is terrible. Unless the owner was your best friend. They got busy right at the end of our meal and Adam was called away, which is fine. So after catching up with him over a classic surf and turf plate, I came out on their deck to finish my drink. I love their deck. Especially when the day was overcast and the wind coming off the water was blowing sweetly for once. And the woman, the one giving me that ‘I want to know your name’ smile, she seemed sweet too.
I had my sleeves rolled a few times to my forearms, and my elbows rested on the railing. My beer was half gone when I gave up watching her out of my peripheral vision, and met her eyes. They were gray, the same color as the water. She took the direct look as an invitation and approached my section of railing. I mentally counted and reached four when she spoke. “Aren’t you…” She tapered off, as if afraid to say the words out loud, in case she was wrong. I switched the bottle to my left hand, and turned toward her. I offered her a handshake and a name.
“Jove Belle.” When she placed her hand in mine, I brought it to my lips instead of shaking it. “It is a pleasure to meet you.”
She blushed slightly and took another sip of her wine, but didn’t pull her hand away until I released it. With a smile she spoke softly. “I see you are as charming in person as you seem to be on the page. The pleasure is all mine, Ms. Belle.”
That’s not what I’m really called, but I didn’t correct her. “So you are a fan?”
She smiled enigmatically. “Of sorts.”
Curious about her demeanor, I kept on the usual line of questioning. “What is your favorite book? Who is your favorite author?”
Another sip of wine, and I watched the wind play with the curling ends of her hair. She laughed, taking me by surprise. “Oh, I don’t read. Or rather, I rarely read.”
Surprise colored my features. “But then how…” I was silenced by a finger to my lips.
“You didn’t let me finish. I rarely read, but you are definitely my favorite author.”
I suddenly remembered an incident from a few years ago with a stalker. This wasn’t the same woman, but you can never be too sure. “Do I know you?”
She smiled again and ran her index finger down my bare forearm. “Not yet.” When I threw her another startled look, she volleyed it with ease. “I saw your picture online once, with a little write-up about one of your books. I’ve since read your blogs. But it was your picture. When I saw it, I remembered it.”
I was at a loss for words. “I, um… I’m not really sure what to say. That’s an interesting story?”
She laughed delightedly. I’m sure at the fact that I was so unnerved. “Don’t worry, this was purely chance meeting. But when I saw you, I had to introduce myself. My name is Sarah.”
I smiled, knowing this game. “Well Sarah, have you eaten?”
I pressed on. “So have I. Would you like to get out of here and have a drink with me? Maybe have some conversation?” I set my empty beer bottle on a nearby table and canted my elbow out in her direction, in invitation.
The smile she gave me was a little predatory. It made me realize that perhaps she wasn’t fishing for my name earlier; she was after something much larger. Before I could give it more thought, she threaded her arm through mine. “I would be delighted.” As we started walking toward the exit she spoke with a quietly triumphant timbre to her voice. “And what would you like to talk about when we get this drink?”
“For starters, your taste in authors.” She was still laughing as we walked out the door.
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This is fabulous! I’m much cooler in your story than in real life. 🙂
Shouldn’t we all be cooler on the page? The sky is the limit, as they say.