Write less than 200 words about a color. Pick something – an object, a feeling, a person, an animal – on which to focus. Use a thesaurus for at least 5 alternate words for this color. Have fun!
Here’s my piece:
Alert, still, the little black cat sits on the windowsill. Golden afternoon sun slants onto her ebony-smooth fur, picking out an occasional silky strand of silver in the inky coat. Delicately raising a sooty paw to the window, she bats at a bee that bumbles by outside. The cat is suddenly alive with energy, quivering like a dusky thundercloud brimming with lightening. Tensely, she follows the bee with her green eyes until it is lost in the lightless forest beyond the house. Then, when it is gone, she tosses her small sable head, tipped by a nose dark as coal, and resumes her waiting pose.
Start a story with the line “Looking at Paris in this light…” Take no more than 10 minutes to write 300 words or less. This is my beginning; I’d love to see yours.
Looking at Paris in this light, Kate thought, could get a person in real trouble.
She propped her elbows on the iron railing of the tenth-story balcony and sighed. Paris was everything she’d always imagined it would be. Every bit as romantic, too, and that was definitely a problem. Determinedly pushing aside the persistent image of a tall, broad-shouldered young man with tousled auburn hair, she bit her lip. What was she to do about Philip? She certainly hadn’t expected someone like him to enter her life only two days into her long-awaited vacation to France. He just didn’t fit in with her plans.
Kate stared out at the city, mesmerized by its beauty. Buildings, fountains, sidewalks were all burnished by golden light from the late-afternoon sun, and aromas from neighborhood restaurants – frying garlic, pan-seared scallops, baking bread – wafted up to her nose. Inhaling the enticing smells, she realized suddenly that she was hungry. Not surprising, really, since she’d spent the day poking into shops, visiting outdoor markets, ducking into thrillingly ancient cathedrals, and all she’d had to eat since the hard roll and coffee this morning was a piece of fruit and a wedge of cheese she’d purchased at a little grocery store.
“Time to scavenge for dinner,” she said out loud, turning away from the vista before her and opening the sliding glass door of her hotel room. “And I refuse to think about Philip. I will simply enjoy a good meal… all by myself in Paris!”
I recently read two books by Susan Kearsley - Winter Sea and The Rose Garden. The first novel involves “genetic memory” and features two romances, one set in the modern era and the other in pre-Jacobite Cornwall. The Rose Garden is a Cornish-based time-travel fantasy. Oh, I know some of you might wrinkle your nose in distaste at the idea of yet another novel about time travel but if you like romance, history and gorgeous locations, you really should give these books a chance.
After heaving a deep sigh for true love and strappingly handsome, tall-booted men to whom riding a spirited horse is second nature, I started thinking about why I enjoyed Kearsley’s books so much. And, since my reasons are applicable to many books in the romance genre, I thought I’d share them with you. OK? Good; here goes.
Kearsley’s prose isn’t overly flowery and she doesn’t go into too much detail about her characters’ looks. If I have a quibble with Diana Gabaldon’s wonderful Outlander novels it’s that I grow a wee bit tired of Jamie’s shimmering, golden-red hair. It’s amazing how many ways an author can describe hair in different lights and circumstances. Kearsley, on the other hand, seems to prefer giving a general description of the characters and then allowing her reader to mentally fill in the blanks. I quite like this approach. Here’s something else I appreciate: Kearsley shows us the passion building up between her couple, takes us with them into the bedroom to consummate said passion… and then closes the door to the reader until the next morning, when it’s made very apparent that it was a wonderful night and these two people are meant to be together. This is not to say that there should never be a romantic sex scene in a novel – it can be awfully fun – but I found Kearsley’s approach surprisingly satisfying. Finally, the author includes enough accurate historical information to make the plot interesting to a history-buff like me but doesn’t add so much that one feels expected to take an exam upon completion of the book.
Spot-on writing, Ms. Kearsley, and I hope you keep putting out these lovely, sigh-worthy novels.
There are plenty of reasons people like to write. First of all, when one’s creative energy is sparking through one’s veins writing is fun – really, really fun. Then there’s the fact that – sometimes – you can actually earn a little money with your writing. Of course, it’s cool to casually say, “I’m a writer, you know.” And, writing can be cathartic (I love that word). Finally, being a writer provides a good excuse for not cleaning up after dinner: ”Gotta run, sweetie; I simply have to finish writing that last scene in chapter 10!”
Let’s go back to that first reason for writing – fun. If you’re a person who has always struggled with the written word, then this concept makes no sense at all. But if – like me – you started jotting down little poems and stories in elementary school (and they weren’t even a school assignment), and continued feeling driven to write through adulthood, then you get it. For you, there’s something singularly satisfying about rounding up and corralling just the right words, whether it’s for a non-fiction magazine article, a poem, or a moment in a novel.
I particularly like the poetic form called Haiku, because the strict format (first line, five syllables; second line, seven; third line, five syllables) forces the poet to express herself with just a few, choice words. It’s much harder than it might sound; give it a try.
Keep on writing.