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The following post was written June 5, 2013.
ConCarolinas 2013 – On Sunday I attended a writer’s workshop. The panelists were:
Moderator – Joe Naff (http://www.moonwingmedia.com/) – Writes fantasy and supernatural thriller with strong female lead characters. (Eternal Forest; The Chronicles of Shyra (Series); The Gospel of the Font)
Panelist – Catherine McLean (http://www.catherineemclean.com/) – Write space opera. (Karma and Mayhem; Jewels of the Sky)
Panelist – Winfield Strock III (http://adventures-above-the-aether.blogspot.com/) – Writes steampunk. (Adventures Above the Aether, Aether Legion)
With this eclectic group of speculative fiction authors overseeing the workshop, we were instructed to write “A scene where the scene expresses the emotion of what is happening.” for fifteen minutes. Okay, I can do that. Below is what was written word for word; no time for editing.
Waves crashed around the pier, throwing a fog of salt water around Clyde. Angry tears trickled down his face, leaving tracks in the sea-mist sweat. Life wasn’t fair, he thought.
A scream escaped his wounded heart and was torn away by the unforgiving wind. Soon he would need to leave. The blood-red sunset promised a storm, no matter what the weatherman had said. He looked forward to spending the night in the creaky beachcomber shack he rented, fighting leaks and rattling panes.
She shouldn’t have left him. He had done everything right. From the first spell of summon to the last spell of binding, his high school sweetheart should have stayed with him until death parted them.
What had gone wrong?
An incoming wave driven by tide and storm pushed him back a step. His sopping jeans cling to his skinning legs like lichen. His bare feet slipped a bit on the slimy mold.
He couldn’t even summon her back. The last binding spell made her immune to hearing siren energy. She should have held steady.
We did a round robin with the participants reading their pieces and giving feedback. Then we got the kicker for the second hour of the workshop. Write the same scene but with an opposite or strongly different emotion. Characters may be changed, but the location/scene needed to remain the same. Oh, boy. … I think I can do that. …. Ummm, okay …
Waves dashed in ahead of the storm, hurtling towards safety in the sand. Clyde remained on the mossy pier, digging his bare feet through the slimy green coating for firmer footing. He waited impatiently through the ruby sunset for full dark. The storm promised big ones to curl, dare and ride. Wind ripped at his pony-tail, lashing at his back and check.
Should he do this without backup? His partner had left him, refusing to even set foot in the rickety shack they rented each year, after they fought all the way from the city. Hell, Clyde didn’t even know how he was going to get back after the weekend. His high school buddy had left in a spray of sand and gravel.
An incoming wave rushed the aging pier, diving him back a step with its force. His wetsuit prevented him from felling the icy touch, but salt clung to his lips, wetting his appetite for adventure.
Soon, soon. The midnight ride through white crests and driving water would be his world. Centering him as nothing else did. Only in the blue, with water under and over him, when Neptune tried to bury him and he could laugh at the gods did he feel alive.
Unable to wait longer, he checked the tie on his ankle. He picked up the board and ran screaming off the end of the pier and started paddling into the failing light.
I really like the parallel I was able to pull. The screaming by the main character and the loss of a special friend. The timing of the second wave pushing him back. The mold/slime on the ancient pier and the existence of the shack to live in. The exercise was fun, and also showed I really need to work on adding more description to my writing. Flash needs most of it stripped, and my long-form writing has suffered because of my concentration on flash writing. I am really glad I attended the workshop.
(post initially published 6/5/2013; republished in new blog format on 7/2/2017)