Scrivener’s Forge 11 – POV

Here we go. Another writing exercise hosted by Neil MacDonald. Please click his name for more information. I have found these exercises have really given me some tips to watch for writing. Thanks Neil for continuing to post these challenge. Here in Neil’s own words was the challenge –

Exercise

Write a short scene with two characters in which your main character encounters a strange or difficult situation involving another character. Use what you know about your main character’s desires and fears to show how they respond to the other character. Now repeat the exercise, this time using the other character as your main character. Notice how this change of point-of-view alters the story.

Now onto my scenes –

 

Kate’s Perspective

There is no way to avoid it, no way to sugar coat it. Meeting the other woman, the one that had lured my husband from our cozy family life was going to be awkward. How do you make small talk with the woman who willfully and spitefully slept with Kevin, your husband of twenty years? I forced a smile and smoothed some wrinkles from my dress. I could do this. For my son on his graduation day, I would do it.

I watched Rebecca hang on my husband’s arm as they entered. Her makeup was a little too thick, the dress too tight, the smile rang as fake as the breasts. Jason tensed beside me, a reminder that he had been as hurt by his father’s betrayal as I had been. The couple approached us. With each step the weight of my forty years increased. My breasts sagged more, the crow’s feet around my eyes deepened. I cursed myself for not getting my hair colored. Surely all my grey hairs where accented by the gym’s florescent lights.

“Kate, good to see you.” Kevin brushed a kiss against my cheek before giving Jason a bear-hug. “This is Rebecca. Rebecca, this is Katherine.”

Good manners took over, I thrust my hand forward for the obligatory handshake. I didn’t expect the trembling in her hand. I didn’t expect the fear I saw Rebecca’s eyes.

Rebecca’s Perspective

My hand shook as I applied my eyeliner resulting in a crooked line. I took a deep breath and tried again sighing at the resulting line that said nightclub not afternoon high school graduation. I’d have to live with it. Tugging on the hem of my dress I cursed the extra pounds I’ve been accumulating. The one thing I had always been able to count on, especially since the surgery, was a knockout body that men loved. It let me avoid conversations that highlighted my limited education. I’ll start a diet next week. Damn it. I don’t want to do this. I’m not into happy family events like graduations especially when it’s not my family.  Christ, I had managed to avoid meeting the ex -wife for almost a year. I didn’t want to meet the cold woman that had held Kevin in her clutches for so many years.

What do you say to the woman that had treated someone you loved so shabbily, a woman so self-centered that she hadn’t realized her marriage was dead long before you came on the scene. It was dead, wasn’t it? Sometimes the way Kevin talked about Kate made me wonder if he still held onto some fantasy about his marriage. My heart broke when I found him lost in thought, a wistful look etched on his face. Did he regret leaving her for me? Was I a midlife crisis that would be discarded when he regained his senses?

Oh god, everyone is looking at me. I clutch Kevin’s arm for support. Oh no, there she is. Damn it, why did she have to look so put together, so confident? Why did he have to kiss her? Kate thrust out her hand. When she clasped mine, our eyes met. I didn’t expect the flash of intelligence. I didn’t expect such grace. It shook me. I can’t compete with that.

Thanks for reading. Please click HERE to read other submissions. If you can please leave a comment. I would love to here what you thought of my two scenes.

Cheers,

Cindy

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Scrivener’s Forge 8 – Plot and Ending

Once again I would like to thank Neil MacDonald, for posting the writing exercises called Scrivener’s Forge. Please click his name for more information on Scrivener’s Forge. This month’s excise is the following –

A simple way to think about plot is as the events seen in the light of their endings. Endings are important, and one of the most difficult parts of story-telling. A good ending should be both surprising and inevitable.

Exercise:

Write a cracking-good ending (a paragraph or two). Then work backwards and develop the sequence of events (the plot) that leads up to this ending. Note that this may feel very artificial for writers who like to “discover” their ending in the course of writing. But it’s an exercise to help us be aware of the sequence of causes that create good endings. It’s also a great technique when you’re editing a story to do a “backwards pass” and check that you have properly motivated the ending. A “backwards pass” is exactly this process of working backwards from the ending.

This was a very challenging one for me. Luckily, I had a story that had been bouncing around in my brain, a response to a Friday Fictioneer’s photo of a pay phone I didn’t get a chance to write. Now I have the opportunity to flesh out that idea. Hope you enjoy my story.

Life Line

I stomped the dust off my boots and cursed. This backwater town was strangling the life out of me. I was bored to death by the smiling faces that greeted me every day inquiring about me and my family. I was done with the dusty two lane main street that lead people in and quickly ushered them out of the tiny dot that was my home town.

When you’re young the long stretches of fields were a great place to play hide and seek. The country fairs full of corn dogs, cotton candy and stomach-churning rides were the highlight of the year. It’s funny how you can see the same things year after year then one day the familiar sights look different, almost alien.

Head down, I spent my high school years plotting my escape. My ticket out was a full scholarship at UC Berkeley. I packed my bags ignoring my mother’s hand wringing and my father’s defeated look. They had lost the long argument. The University of Nebraska was not big enough, not far enough for me. Mike, five years my junior still under the spell of life in the country, understood none of the tensions that shattered the peace in our tiny farm house.

Two days into my first semester, denying the empty feeling that stalked me from class to class and haunted my restless sleep, I called home from the dorm’s payphone for the first time. The achingly familiar sound of my mother’s voice sent tears streaming down my cheeks. The local twang, one I was struggling to hide, was a sweet song to my ears. It became an addiction. I called home once or twice a week. I would hang up, breathing a sigh of relief, shored up by knowing my one stoplight town and all its occupants still existed. I cheered the high school’s football wins, I laughed at my brother’s fumbling attempts at dating, I mourned the loss of people that had become as familiar to me as breathing. For years, I clung to the lifeline that was mounted in the hallway of the dorm.

Undergraduate and Graduate degrees led me to Silicon Valley, another new world to explore and conquer. My small-town roots, are now firmly relegated to the distant past. But I still shore up any moments of doubt and insecurity with memories of those fall fairs and Friday night football games. Payphones are now an endangered species that are rarely spotted.

But there one hung, almost impossible to resist. On my way into the truck stop, I breezed by it studiously ignoring it’s existence. On the way out, I strode confidently past it until my resolve dissolved. I turned back and stood face to face with it drowning in indecision. I watched as one hand snatched up the receiver, the other hand dropped in some coins and my fingers dialed the number from memory. I clung to the lifeline.

Whrrr click, whrrr click. The voice heard so often over the years reached deep into my soul.

“The number you have dialed is no longer in service.”

I dropped the receiver as if bit by a snake. The room twisted, I slunk to the floor. As always it came crashing back to me, the horrible day, a sunny afternoon during my senior year. The day a drunk driver changed, forever, the voice on the other end of the line.

Thanks for reading. Please click HERE to read other submissions to this month’s Scrivener’s Forge.

 

The Scrivener’s Forge 3 – In a Flash

This is take 3 for the Scrivener’s Forge. This months exercise is to, and I quote our host Neil MacDonald –

This time, write a paragraph that comes immediately before your character reaches the climax of their struggle. The purpose of the exercise, apart from exploring further how desire drives your character, is to learn how to build suspense. You will need to hold your reader’s attention at the same time as making them want to jump ahead.

Please visit Neil’s site to get more information on the monthly exercise. Click HERE to read other stories.

Once again this is an excerpt from the novel I am working on. Any feed back, positive or negative, is greatly appreciated. Here we go –

The violent storms that haunt the dog days of summer struck our little island yesterday. We had been blessed with bright sunny days that stretched long into the night and had come to rely on the steady but gentle winds from the west to keep the temperatures and humidity from rising to intolerable levels. Day after day we have enjoyed ideal weather. Late yesterday afternoon that changed. We were contentedly sipping cocktails on the deck when the wind abruptly shifted. No longer a gentle warm breeze, a cold wind battered us from the east. Absorbed in our lazy afternoon, we had ignored the warning signs. It was almost too late when a disquieting rumble drew our attention towards the east and the banks of roiling black clouds marching swiftly towards us.

Swallowing my panic, I belted out instructions to Bob. “You check the boat. Make sure it’s secure. Clear out anything laying on the bottom that could get blown around. I’ll get the chairs and anything I can see. I’ll check the doors on the outhouse and bunkie. You make sure the hatch on the crawl space is closed firmly. Meet you back inside.” I gave him a quick kiss, and we took off running.

By the time we had made it into the safety of the cottage walls of rain were advancing across the lake towards us. We stood by the living room window and watched Mother Nature’s fury. She sure was mad about something. Wind swirled around the island, throwing rain at the cottage from all directions. A sound like hundreds of hammers battering the roof indicated the rain had turned to hail. Penny sized ice pellets pelted the island, tearing leaves and small branches off the trees. With an ear-splitting crack and blinding flash, lightning hit a tree on the rocky outcrop twenty feet out from our eastern shore. The onslaught continued. We watched, silently, as if speaking might call attention to us and make us targets of this fury. It would have been impossible to hear each other anyway. Daylight had disappeared, replaced with a smothering darkness. Another ear-splitting crack drew my attention to the meadow outside the kitchen window. In the brief flash of light was the figure of a large man. He was drenched and tightly clutched a large bundle to his chest. He was bent forward under the burden of the weight he carried and the assault of the storm. I shrieked. Bob, stunned, turned to see what had startled me. Another flash illuminated the meadow. I slumped against the window relieved when I realized nothing was there. I fought to slow my pulse and struggled to breath when I recognized the memory I had buried long ago.

Word Count – 454

Thanks for reading.

Cindy

Friday Fictioneers, Feb 17th – Susie Q

Yep, it’s that time again. Below is my 100 word story based, on the photo prompt, for this week’s Friday Fictioneers.

Don’t know about this challenge, want to join? Click her name to visit our host Rochelle Wisoff-Fields site that has all the information you need.

Here is this week’s prompt –

broken-face-liz
PHOTO PROMPT © Liz Young

Now for my story –

Being late turned her insides to jelly and sent her mind reeling with horrible possibilities.

Annie quickly shifted her weight from foot to foot.

“Come on, come on, change.” She implored the street light.

“She’s old enough to be left alone. She’s fine.” Annie reassured the pedestrians around her.

The light changed and Annie pushed her way forward, then veered off the sidewalk into the woods.

“Ah Susie Q, I knew you’d be okay. Mommy’s sorry she left you alone so long.”

Annie stoked the long dark hair and checked to ensure her possessions were just as she had left them.

Word Count – 101

Thanks for dropping by and reading. I love feed back. Leave a few words in my comments. If you would like to read more stories click Friday Fictioneers.

Have a great day,

Cindy

Friday Fictioneers, Jan 20th – The Dawning of Wisdom

Time for this weeks contribution to the Friday Fictioneers Challenge to write a 100 word story based on the photo prompt.

Interested in finding out more about this challenge and the group of writers that accept the challenge each week, start with our host’s Rochelle Wisoff-Fields site by clicking HERE.

Click HERE to fall down the rabbit hole to read stories posted by all those that participated in this week’s challenge.

Thank you Rochelle for selecting this weeks beautiful photo and to Dale Rogerson for providing it. This was a challenging one for me. I struggled with trying to ground the photo into a place and was unsuccessful so this week I went with the feeling, reverence, the photo elicited, from me more than a place it revealed to me.

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson
PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

The Dawning of Wisdom (Word Count:97)

Lisa rolled her eyes whenever her teacher stopped to point out another boring painting. She mimicked in a pinched voice “The sparing use of color contrasts sharply with the application of thick brush strokes.”

“Geez, get a life,” Lisa muttered. Who cared about paintings done by dead Canadians?

Following the pack through a narrow opening lined with arches, Lisa stopped dead in her tracks, dwarfed by the large canvas.

“How?” she wondered.

The stark solitude it portrayed mirrored her isolation. The soaring heights capped with light matched the hope she clung to.

How had the artist known?

Painting by Lawren Harris
Painting by Lawren Harris

This story is based on my experience when visiting the McMichael Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario. It houses the largest collection of paintings done by the Group of Seven, famous Canadian artists known for their landscape paintings. My favorite among the group is Lawren Harris. It was his paintings that literally stopped me in my tracks more then twelve years ago. I carry that feeling with me to this day.

Curious about these famous Canadian artist click HERE.

Thanks for dropping by. Leave me a comment. I love comments!

Cindy

 

The Scrivener’s Forge 1 Writing Exercise – The Power of a Child’s Laughter

Did you know there is a new kid on the block? It is Scrivener’s Forge a once a month exercise that focuses on different writing skills. If you would like more information on Scrivener’s Forge, which is hosted by Neil McDonald, click HERE.

To read the stories that have been submitted click HERE.

Now down to business here is my 495 word story.

The Power of a Child’s Laughter

At the airport, I joined the crush of people weaving their way in longs lines through the security checkpoints and headed towards my gate. Once there, I dropped into a utilitarian seat for the hour wait before my plane was to depart.

I am not a good flier. I am terrified by the prospect of hurtling through the air at 550 mph trapped in a small metal tube. The cherry on top of what I knew would be a long, frustrating day was the snowstorm that had settled in overnight. I nervously glanced at the snow piling up outside the window expecting that any minute I would hear the garbled voice that would pronounce my flight canceled. To ease my fraying nerves, I pulled out my e-reader. My escape was short-lived. From the depth of my book, I heard the strained voice of an exasperated young mother. I looked up to observe her trying to corral a spunky two-year-old hell-bent on exploring the strange world around her. The bewildered mother stood clasping the hood of an empty jacket while her toddler made her way over to me. Inexperienced in running with bulky boots, the child’s forward momentum came to a crashing stop at my knees.

The frustrated mother was shrieking “Jessica, stop, Jessica get back here.” It was a mantra she repeated until she managed to swoop in and pick up an unsuspecting Jessica. With a whispered “I’m sorry,” the twosome rejoined their abandoned luggage.

The mother’s scolding continued, rising in pitch as the minutes ticked by.

“Jessica, don’t do that.” An unrepentant Jessica persisted in removing her boots.

“Jessica sit still.” Without a backward glance, Jessica twirled down the aisle performing a ballet for all to see, before once more nabbed by her mother.

“Jessica, I said sit down.” I glanced up to see Jessica climbing over the back of her seat.

On and on it went as the wait stretched to two hours, then to three. Finally, we were herded aboard the plane. Buckled securely in my seat, I watched the frazzled mother drag a curious Jessica down the narrow aisle. At each empty seat, the little girl veered off and attempted to sit down. A chorus of “No Jessica” followed them as the pair passed by me.

The plane took off while I blocked out all thoughts of the world receding below me. Suddenly, without warning, there was a terrifying feeling of floating then one of falling. A sensation similar to riding an elevator that was hurtling down its shaft. I stared at my e-reader as it floated in front of me. Fear filled the plane with expressions of shock and cursing. Just as quick as it started, the sensation of falling stopped. My e-reader settled into my lap once more.

Then I heard it. A small bubbling voice exclaiming “Whee!”

Over the giggles from many of the plane’s occupants the familiar mother’s voice cooed “Jessica, you are such a treat.”

This story is a mashup of what I observed while flying from Phoenix to Toronto, for the holidays, and a story my son recounted about his flight from Halifax to Toronto . Thanks for reading. Please give me some feed back.

Cindy