Writings About Writing – Description

Ooh. Yep. Description.

Description is something I always have trouble with. Mostly because I forget about it. I always have to look back in my story to see if I’ve already described a character, or if I’ve described this room, or that scenic view, or the hotel, or… well, I’m sure you get the point.

I personally think I’m okay with description, as long as I remember it. Character descriptions are usually some of the hardest for me. “Okay, she’s tall, brown hair, with green eyes.” No, I need more detail than that. How do you even do that?

Yeah. I struggle with description. And here I am, struggling with describing my struggles with description. 😉

Do you struggle with description? What’s your biggest description problem? Too much or too little? How do you describe your characters’ appearances?

Passing a Milestone

Woohoo! It’s time to celebrate!

I just passed two milestones in the novel I’m currently working on: I finished chapter three and officially passed ten thousand words. (Current word count is 10,232 words.)

To celebrate, I’m posting the prologue here on this blog. Enjoy! And please let me know what you think in the comments below. Look for more soon!

———-

The man stepped outside the huge double doors at the end of the darkened hallway. The doors were nearly completely cloaked in darkness, and he could barely make out the two guards blocking the doors. Their black uniforms provided excellent camouflage, and their presence was only revealed by the slight bit of light glinting off their rifles.

“State your business,” one of the guards demanded roughly.

The visitor could feel their eyes boring holes into him. His hands shook as he began his rehearsed statement. “I am here to meet with Leader Menger, ruler of our prestigious regime and general or our undefeatable armed forces.” Even in his fear he nearly laughed at the irony of the last statement.

The other guard snorted in derision. “I think we figured out that much,” he snapped sarcastically.

The first guard ignored his partner. “Unless you give me a good reason right now, you shall be thrown into either the streets or the prison.

The man gulped. “I have been sent by Captain Hensley. You should have record of an appointment,” he added.

The first guard pulled a small electronic device out of his pocket, tapped the screen several times, and looked up at the man. “I see the appointment. You were supposed to come yesterday.”

“I was detained,” the visitor said snippily, surprising himself with his own audacity. The first guard shrugged and helped the other guard open the doors.

The visitor stepped into a surprisingly small and empty room. The only furniture was a chair much like a throne that stood opposite the doors. The chair was almost completely in the shadows of the already-dark room, but the man could make out an imposing figure sitting erect in it.

“What do you want?” The harsh, cold voice sent a shiver of fear down the man’s spine. He wiped his sweaty palms on the sides of his dark brown uniform.

“Leader Menger,” the man began, trying to keep his voice from squeaking. “I have been sent by Captain Hensley on some political matters.” He gave a nervous little bow.

There was a long moment of silence. “Begin!” the voice demanded impatiently, beginning to sound exasperated.

The visitor gave another nervous little bow. “He believes that we should make some policy changes, concerning the way we treat our soldiers and the people whose lands we conquer. He thinks our current actions will not please the World Peace Organization.”

“Oh, curse the WPO!” the voice said harshly. “They can’t do anything to stop me. They are completely unprepared. Go back and tell your ‘honorable captain’ that we shall make no changes.”

The man gasped. “But if we don’t do anything, we shall have IDIA agents crawling all over us!” he blurted before he could stop himself.

The figure rose in his chair. “Guard!” he called. He spoke to the messenger once again. “I do not care about IDIA. They have no power over me, and they shall not get in my way. I have no fear!” he cried as a guard entered the room. “Take him to the prison and make sure he attends the extermination tomorrow.” The guard gave a curt nod and grabbed the messenger’s sleeve. The figure stepped into the light, revealing himself to the messenger for the first time. “I do not care for peace. I did not come all of this way to have my plans ruined by thoughts of peace.”

“America has changed,” the messenger said, his eyes still wide as he looked at the figure.

“We are no longer America!” the man exclaimed. “I, Raltan Menger, am now the Leader of the United Lands of Raltan!”

Paralyzed Dreams: A Novella

This is an excerpt (the first part of the chapter) from my (currently) longest completed story, which I wrote for my mom for her birthday a while back. Once again, please let me know what you think in the comments below!

CHAPTER ONE (not the full chapter)

“Mine!” Pam Wilson yelled as she dove for the volleyball. Her body slammed into the sand as her arms connected with the ball, which flew high in the air. Lauren Cosden, her best friend and fellow teammate spiked the ball over the net. Pam rolled over to her feet and watched as the ball thudded into the sand. She exchanged a high-five with Lauren.

“Nice job, Lauren, Pam,” Coach Pennington called. “Take five, everybody. We’ll start the next round of practice games in a minute.”

“Nice dive,” Lauren told her, impressed. “You sure aren’t afraid to get dirty anymore.”

Pam saw the teasing glint in Lauren’s eyes. “Yeah. That was a nice spike, too. You sure aren’t afraid to jump anymore.”

Lauren laughed. “When was I ever afraid to jump?”

It was true. Lauren had always been the brave and adventurous one, climbing trees, jumping out of them, and rolling around in the dirt with her brothers. She’d broken her arm more times than Pam could remember, and she was always getting into trouble.

Pam, on the other hand, was more of an indoors person. She liked to stay in her room and read, or cook, or paint. She and Lauren had different interests, but they still had a few things in common, like their love for writing. They both went to the same school, same church, and were in the same grade. And they both had the same love for volleyball.

Coach Pennington came over to the water fountain where they were standing. “Girls, you’re going to be on B court next. You’re going to practice against the twins.”

“Okay, Coach,” Lauren agreed. Pam held in her sigh until the coach had headed back to the courts.

“Great,” she muttered.

“We’ll beat them this time,” Lauren assured her.

Pam rolled her blue eyes. “No way,” she told Lauren. “They’ve got that mental telepathy thing going on.” The twins could figure out what the other was thinking, and they had beaten Pam and Lauren every time they’d played. They were really good.

Lauren hooked her arm through Pam’s elbow. “Come on, don’t be so negative. You want to play in the Olympics, right?”

Pam rolled her eyes. “You know that,” she reminded Lauren.

Lauren laughed. “I know. But you’ve got to have a positive mindset. Isn’t that one of the things that Coach Pennington has been lecturing us about?”

“Yeah,” Pam agreed reluctantly.

“Then…” Lauren prompted, her brown eyes sparkling.

“Let’s go beat them!” Pam declared, acting enthusiastic, although her hopes really weren’t that high.

Lauren grinned. “That’s my Pam.” The two girls strolled arm-in-arm over to the B court. The twins were there waiting. Cheri and Chelsea looked up as the other pair entered. They nodded at their opponents, their dark brown eyes confident but bored. Pam could tell that they thought that the win would be easy. Her blood started boiling.

Lauren sensed Pam’s anger and pulled her over to the bench. She made Pam sit down on the bench next to her. “So,” she started casually, leaning back. “I’ve been working on this theory, you see. If we stay calm and don’t get overly upset over them, then we may have a chance.” She glanced over at Pam, brushing her long blond bangs out of her hair. “Remember your grandpa’s saying: kill them with kindness.”

Pam grinned, then grew serious. “So, let’s just be really nice.”

“And Christ-like,” Lauren added, nudging her. The makeshift judge stepped onto his platform, and the girls stood up. Pam stretched, brushing her dark brown hair out of her eyes. She and Lauren walked up to the net and shook hands with the twins.

Cheri grinned cockily at Pam and turned to her sister. “I figure my coffee won’t have time to get cold before this is over.”

Pam smiled cheerfully. Well, with forced cheerfulness. “Good luck!” she told her.

Cheri raised an eyebrow. “We won’t need luck,” she scoffed.

The Perilous Journey – Part II

I wrote this story a couple of years ago for a creative writing class, and I still consider it one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy it, and please let me know what you think. Click for Part I.

Annabelle knew that if the knights saw her, they would certainly stop her and ask her why a peasant girl her age was riding on this trail in the middle of the night. That would waste valuable time. And if they were enemies, she might be captured. Thinking quickly, she slid off of Star and led her into the small clump of trees on her right. Hoping that Star wouldn’t make any noise, she guided her along the side of the road, pausing behind the trees to listen and try to locate the knights. Finally, she was alongside them. She listened closely.

“We’ll sneak up on the castle tonight,” one of the knights, who had a rough voice, suggested. “We could figure out which window is his, and climb through and kill him while he’s sleeping. They’ll never know we were there.”

“Yes,” another added, “they may even think that it was one of his workers.”

“No,” a third man replied. “It won’t work. It’s too risky.”

When she realized what was going on, Annabelle caught her breath. These were enemy knights, and they were planning to kill the king! She quickly led Star past the soldiers, being careful not to make any noise. Miraculously, they made it past. She remounted Star, and urged her to gallop on the grassy side of the path, where she figured they wouldn’t make as much noise. With the help of the moonlight, she quickly made it to King’s Tavern. She slid off of Star and tied her up, then ran inside.

The sweaty barkeeper looked up as she dashed in. “May I help you, miss?”

“Yes,” Annabelle cried. “There are some enemy knights down the road, and they are planning to kill the king tonight!” Several men at the tables leapt to their feet and volunteered to go help round them up. The barkeeper organized a team of men to capture the knights.

Annabelle galloped Star down the path next to the tavern. It was a short way to the cottage, and when she got there, an elderly lady, who had heard Star’s hoof beats, rushed out of the cottage.

“What’s wrong, my dear?” she asked.

“My mother has the fever,” Annabelle panted. “Do you have a remedy I could take her?”

“Yes, my dear,” she replied, rushing into the house and returning a few seconds later with a small glass bottle of liquid. Grinning, she handed it to Annabelle, who peered at it. Frowning, Annabelle tried to identify the liquid, but could not.

“What is this?” Annabelle asked curiously. Wondering how it could help her mother, she sloshed the liquid in the bottle around. Slyly, the old lady grinned. Annabelle noticed that it was a toothless grin.

“They are Tears,” she replied.

“What?”

“Every time someone comes to me while they’re crying, I give them a hankie. Then, later, I wring the Tears out of the hankie. I save the Tears. If you rub it on the bottom of your mother’s feet, the fever will go away,” the old lady, who was still grinning, explained.

Under the cover of the darkness, Annabelle grimaced. At least Mother doesn’t have to drink it, she pondered. She thanked the old lady for the Tears and galloped back up the path. At the head of the trail, a dark figure stepped into her path. Star stopped. When the figure stepped into view, Annabelle realized that it was the barkeeper.

“The men are fighting up ahead. I’ll lead you to a short cut. We need you to warn the king’s guard about the knights. I don’t doubt that they’ll beat our men. Our men are pretending to be thieves,” he said as he mounted his horse.

They galloped to a small path next to the barkeeper’s cottage. The barkeeper stopped and Annabelle continued on her way. Eventually, the king’s castle came into view. She stopped at the gate where the drawbridge was down. She yelled at the top of her lungs until a guard noticed. She quickly told him to pull up the drawbridge and told him what the knights had said. She galloped back down the street, Star’s hooves thundering on the cobblestones.

Finally she was home. She took off Star’s bridle and put her in her stall. Star immediately dozed off, tired from the long ride. Annabelle quietly slipped into the cottage, where she found her mother sound asleep. She rubbed the Tears on the bottoms of her mother’s feet, slid into bed, and fell asleep immediately.

Happily, the next day, her mother was completely well. To her mother’s delight, the grateful king came by and thanked Annabelle for saving his life. She blushed modestly. When the king offered to give her anything in his kingdom in thanks for her services, she suggested only one thing as she smiled at her mother. Grinning in delight, she asked that he marry her mother, whose husband had died when Annabelle was a baby, and he agreed. And, of course, they all lived happily ever after.

The End

The Perilous Journey – Part I

I wrote this story a couple of years ago for a creative writing class, and I still consider it one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy it, and please let me know what you think. 🙂

Annabelle pulled her cloak tighter around her as she made her way to the tiny stable. The chill of the wind seeped through her thick wool cloak. Struggling against the wind, she slowly tugged the door open. Finally, she was able to slip inside. A copper colored mare, who had been munching her hay, lifted her head and stared at Annabelle in surprise.
“Easy, Star,” Annabelle murmured soothingly to the high strung mare. As Annabelle slipped the bridle over her ears, Star snorted and tossed her head. Annabelle led the mare out of the barn into the icy sleet. Annabelle urged her to the small cottage where she and her mother lived. In a flash, she tied the horse and dashed inside. She walked quickly to where her mother lay on the bed made of homespun cloth stuffed with straw, which was next to the blazing fire. She knelt down and caressed her mother’s sweaty hand. Her mother moaned.
“Don’t worry, Mother,” Annabelle told the feverish form softly. “I won’t be gone long. I’ll just go to the cottage where the woman who makes the remedies lives. I’ll be back soon with your medicine.”
“Ride past the castle,” her mother told her. “Turn to the right by Thick Pine. Turn left at the Dragon Inn. Follow the path until you get to King’s Tavern, then go on the side path. It leads to her cottage. Please hurry, daughter. The fever is worsening.”
“I will,” Annabelle promised. She quickly went outside and mounted Star. She and her mother were poor and they were lucky to own a horse as fast as Star. She nudged Star with her heel, and galloped off into the wintry darkness.
Quite soon, the tall castle loomed ahead. The dirt road changed to cobblestones. Finally she was able to see the medieval city that she had always wanted to travel to, but she took no notice of the lovely dresses and supplies that the stores advertised. She was soon past the castle and galloping on toward Dark Forest.
When Annabelle reached the edge of the gloomy forest, she halted Star, who was breathing heavily, dismounted, and let her catch her breath as she studied the path she was leading Star down. Since the path was old and rutted, and was strewn with rocks, Annabelle knew that she would have to let Star go slowly. Sighing, she realized that she was not looking forward to the trip through the forest.
They picked their way slowly along the path. In the darkness, Annabelle pushed Star as fast as she dared. The going was slow, but finally they made it to the other side of the forest. Annabelle urged Star forward again. Star responded with a burst of speed. Soon they were galloping at full speed again.
Finally, Annabelle spotted Thick Pine towering above the tiny trees that lined the trail. She slowed Star, prepared to let her catch her breath, but Star plowed forward, turning right at Thick Pine when Annabelle commanded her. She seemed to sense that something was wrong, that she was on an important mission.
Annabelle slowed Star to a trot, letting her catch her breath while still making progress. After a while, she spotted the small village where the Dragon Inn was located. She quickly found the inn, and turned left onto the small path next to it. Star sped up, seeming to sense her rider’s urgency.
They continued galloping up the path. Suddenly, Star stopped, her head high, her eyes rolling. Annabelle sat quietly, listening for any noises that might show what had scared Star. She heard the thud of hoof beats. Straining her ears, she struggled to pick up the telltale sound she was listening for. The clanking of armor reached her ears.
“Knights!” she whispered.