Writing 101, Day Eleven: Size Matters

Todays’ assignment: Today, tell us about the home you lived in when you were twelve. The twist: pay attention to — and vary — your sentence lengths.

 

Last night I dreamt I returned to… Part 1

Perhaps it all began the day I stood outside my door, my previous door, my ex-door, my late door, my long-lost door, my unforgettable door, my beloved door, my childhood door, my magical door, my timeless door, my door. My time portal.

How do you call a door that was once yours and is now someone else’s? A door that shut out the rest of the world and kept you safe and warm and happy; a door that closed in the smell of fairy cakes, and toast, and butter, and twirls of smoke melting into the sitting-room ceiling, and cut grass wafting in from the garden… and my mother’s laughter, and my father’s quiet smiles as he hid behind the broadsheet and peeked his eyes over the top to greet me when I came in throwing my satchel on the floor and rushing into the kitchen to hug mum, who was always bending over cooking something delicious in the oven.

Never more. Never again. Never.

Last night I dreamt I returned to… the home I lived in when I was twelve. Someone else was living there. It was no longer my house. There was no point in going back, so I stood outside the door for a while… remembering, and then I turned and left.

 

End of today’s assignment.

 

I’ve tried hard not to be too sentimental, or present a description of a house. I’ve also concentrated on varying sentence length, but I have mixed feelings about how it’s worked out. What do you think?

Have a look at some of the other posts

Writing 101, Day Ten: Happy Geraldine!

Today’s prompt: Today, be inspired by a favorite childhood meal. For the twist, focus on infusing the post with your unique voice.

One-and-a-half Penny Bags!

We rushed down the stairs to the cloakroom, slipped off our plimsolls, pulled on our boots, grabbed our coats, and burst out of the warm school building into the freezing, foggy evening. Satchels in one hand, and our free hands clasped together, as we both shouted the magic words in unison, ‘One-and-a-half penny bag!’

Geraldine played in the netball team. She was taller and stronger than me, so I struggled to keep up with her long, powerful strides. Minutes later, two breathless, hungry girls pushed open the heavy glass door, and tripped into the warm, sweet-smelling bakery.

We were greeted with a cheerful, ‘Just on time girls! I was about to wrap up,’ while our eyes greedily scanned the scanty leftovers on the trays.

‘How many bags is it going to be today, my darlings?’ She smiled.

We looked at each other expectantly. I pursed my lips and cocked my head. ‘Just one, today!” Geraldine screamed as she pressed the two bronze coins on the counter. The shop-assistant shoved bits and pieces of broken cakes into a small paper bag and dropped it into her eager hands.

We screamed, ‘Thank you!’ just before rushing back out into the chilly street.

We sat on a bench in the nearby park, by the bus stop, and stuffed ourselves with morsels of jam doughnut, fruit cake, bits of chocolate éclairs, and lemon meringue pie, which seemed to us to be the most delicious meal we had ever tasted.

Our hands plunged into the bag squeezing the exquisite mixture between our fingers and into our ravenous mouths. We made sure all the crumbs were scratched out of the crumpled bag, and licked off our grateful fingers.

End of today’s post

I shortened this post following a suggestion made by helenyoungmidwife, why don’t you check out her entry?

Click here if you’d like to read some of the other entries.

Sometimes we had one bag, other times two, but we could never get enough! Those unforgettable events occurred on many Fridays, after school, forty-four years ago, and to this day I have still to taste a more delicious meal, or share it with a more boisterous and loveable friend.

I lost touch with Geraldine a year later, when she moved to Ireland with her family. I have shared many, more expensive, and more lavish meals since then, but none as memorable. I still miss her…

 

 

Writing 101, Day Nine: Changing Moccasins — Point of View.

Today’s prompt: For today’s assignment, write a scene at the park. Up for a twist? Write the scene from three different points of view. A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene.

Tom’s Sweater

Who are these two people and why on Earth are they sitting here beside me? Why are they looking at me, rudely, as if they knew me, and why is he whimpering? I’m going to ignore them, that’s what I’ll do. Ignore them so they’ll go away.

It’s not working. They are still there, still staring. At least he’s stopped crying, but now he’s smiling. What does he want? Does he want to sell me something?

‘I’d like to show you something.’ He says awkwardly. I don’t like him.

‘It’s a picture, a photograph of…’ I cut the idiot off, ‘I’m not buying anything, thank you.’ I tell him gruffly, hoping to scare him off.

He smiles back and says that’s all right. What does he mean it’s all right? Perhaps he’s a thief. I grab my handbag firmly and squeeze it tightly under my arm. It’s uncomfortable to knit like this, but I’ll manage. I can’t stop knitting now, the time is running out.

***

I need to say something to break the ice. She’s just sitting there ignoring us, and it’s breaking Tom’s heart.

‘That’s a lovely sweater you’re knitting.’

She nods, and continues busily. Well, at least she hasn’t ignored the comment, so I go on, ‘Who’s it for?’

She knits on, as if she hadn’t heard me.

‘Is it for a little boy?’

She huffs and pulls an impatient face. Silence.

We sit there for a few more minutes. I fix my eyes on my watch, hoping for the time to pass. We need to take her back home for dinner. It’s getting chilly in the park.

***

I hate coming here. I hate the way she looks at me. I hate the things she does, and the things she says. I hate the person she is now. I hate what’s happened to her. Why doesn’t she look at the photos? She might remember if she looked, but she won’t. She doesn’t want to remember! She never loved me, she always preferred Jim, but he’s dead, and now I have to look after her, and she doesn’t even know my name. I’m in tears again. I can’t take more of this. We’ll have to find a home for her.

Suddenly she stops knitting and smiles at me.

‘You know who it’s for, it’s for Tom. He likes red. Do you know my son, Tom?’

***

End of Post. Check out other entries.

This is really part two of Day Four, which was a three part prompt we haven’t done yet. In Day Four, I narrated personal experiences of Alzheimer’s. Today on Day Nine, I’ve dramatized the loss of oneself that this illness represents, and I’ve also aimed to show how difficult it is to understand and cope with, by relatives and carers, who suffer greatly.

Were the three narrators’ voices distinct enough in such a short narrative?

Did you like the way they were separated by *** ? My novel has multiple narrators, too, and that’s how I indicated a change.

Do you have any other suggestions for signposting a change of narrator?

Thanks for dropping by!

 

Writing 101, Day Eight: Death to Adverbs

Today’s prompt: Go to a public location and make a detailed report of what you see. The twist of the day? Write the post without adverbs.

The Corpse

I strolled to the beach front to have breakfast. The coffee shop I had planned to go to was closed, so I walked on to the next one. I stepped along the floorboards wobbling on the sand, and sat at a table facing the sea. I drank my coffee and ate my toast, while listening to the breaking waves. I checked the customers, looking around for information to complete my assignment, and decided they looked northern European, no doubt searching for a respite to their protracted winter. It was then I saw a swimming trunk, floating by the shore. I fixed my gaze on it for some seconds because it seemed odd, and I had been trained to check things which looked out of place. I noticed there was something attached to it — a body!

‘Call an ambulance! There’s someone floating in the water!” I shouted.

The other guests screamed, discarded their food, and followed me to the spot where I had seen the corpse. My walk had ended. It was back to work for me, I sighed, as I called my colleagues at the Police Department.

End of todays’s assignment.

Have a look at some of the other posts!

 

I think adjectives and adverbs should be carefully chosen, but I am sure as a linguist, an English teacher, a reader, and a writer, that they definitely have their place, in all types of written discourse.

However, for the sake of following today’s assignment, the previous version was ‘adverbless’ and almost without adjectives, too. If you want some more, the following is another version with many more adjectives and adverbs.

Which do you prefer? and Why?

The Corpse

I strolled to the beach front to have a long, lazy breakfast, on my first free Sunday morning for weeks. The coffee shop I had planned to go to was closed, so I walked on to the next available one with a free table. I stepped along the wooden floorboards wobbling on the uneven sand and sat at a sunny table facing the sea. I drank my coffee and ate my toast while listening to the soothing swish of the breaking waves. I checked the other early risers on the neighbouring tables distractedly, looking around for information to complete my assignment, and decided they looked mostly northern European, no doubt searching for a warm respite to their chilly spring.

I looked back to the sea. It was then I saw an inflated swimming trunk floating aimlessly by the shore. I fixed my gaze on it for some seconds because it seemed odd, there, and I had been trained to check things which looked out of place. Seconds later I noticed there was something attached to it… a body!

‘Call an ambulance. Now! There’s someone floating in the water!” I shouted franticly.

The other guests screamed, discarded their food, and followed me to the spot where I had seen the corpse. So much for my quiet, peaceful morning walk. It was back to work for me, I sighed, as I called my unsuspecting colleagues at the local Police Department.

Writing 101, Day Seven: Give and Take

Today’s prompt: Focus today’s post on the contrast between two things. The twist? Write the post in the form of a dialogue.

Real Versus Virtual World.

I have two lives, a real life and a virtual one. The virtual life (VL) is very easy-going, she never moans or complains, and is mostly polite, friendly, and supportive. The real life (RL) is far more demanding, complex, and exhausting. I want my two lives to understand each other and get on, because it would make my whole life easier for me. This was the discussion they had…

RL. I’m a life. I’m her life. I’m her real life. I’m full of people she can see, touch, hear, and smell.

VL. I’m a life, too. I’m her life. I’m her virtual life. I’m full of people from all over the planet she’ll be able to meet and interact with.

RL. But she can’t see the expression on their faces or hear the sound of their voices, or smell their perfume, or shake their hands, or have a coffee with them…

VL. But she can read about their opinions, know what they think, and travel around the world. She’ll see photographs of places she’ll never visit. She’ll read about experiences she’s never had, and learn about anything and everything she’s interested in.

RL. You aren’t leading her anywhere… you’re dead-end. She doesn’t need you. She needs me. She need to go shopping, speak to her neighbours, go to work…

VL. Excuse me, but she’s in touch with all her ‘real’ family and friends on Facebook, skype, twitter, line, and whatsapp. She’s more in touch with ‘real’ people through her virtual life and she gets to meet many other people, who happen to be ‘real’, too, as far as I know…

RL. You take up too much of her life…

VL. I’d say it’s you who takes up too much of her life. She has to spend at least fourteen or fifteen of the seventeen hours she’s awake, dealing with all the problems you cause, while she only has two or three hours to see to her virtual life, which is much less stressful…

RL. She needs me…

VL. She needs me, too…

They’ll never agree, so at least they’ll agree to disagree.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep them both, because they’re both part of who I am and how I live, although my real life is going to have to be more generous and give up some of her time in favour of my virtual life…

 Check out some of the other posts!

 

Writing 101, Day Six: A Character-Building Experience. Elsa.

Today’s prompt: Today, you’ll write about the most interesting person you’ve met in 2014. In your twist, develop and shape your portrait further in a character study.

 

Lucy and Elsa

Elsa was born two days ago, 8th July, she’s the reason I’m late for my blogging challenge! I’ve been busy helping my daughter and her husband with their new challenge for 2014!

Elsa is my first granddaughter and my third grandchild. She’s got rosy skin and lots of shiny black hair, she hasn’t opened her eyes yet, so we don’t know what colour they are. She’s slim with long legs and feet. She spends most of the day breast feeding and sleeping, and cries occasionally.

Elsa is named after my sister who died tragically in an accident when she was twenty-five. When my daughter told me she’d be calling her own daughter Elsa, I was overjoyed. It’s a lovely name and it is also an emotional tribute to my sister.

I wonder if a person’s character is determined at birth, or if it develops over time? The ‘nature versus nurture’ dichotomy is still unsolved. There is evidence to support both theories, so I think, there’s a mixture of both in our characters. We are born with certain traits, which can develop in different ways depending on our life experiences.

I can’t tell what Elsa’s character will be like in the future. At the moment, she seems calm and quiet, and she smiles frequently. She’s not demanding or noisy, which is a good sign. Most people tend to prefer easy-going and cheerful people, and they’re probably happier with themselves, too!

I like to think I’m not superstitious, but I’ve heard this poem recited since I was a child, and have always thought (probably illogically) that there was some truth attached to the divination of a person’s future through according to the day they were born.
Monday
Elsa was born on Sunday, so she’ll be bonny and blithe and good and gay!

This popular English rhyme was first recorded in A. E. Bray’s Traditions of Devonshire in 1838 however, the tradition of fortune telling by days of birth is much older. Thomas Nashe recalled stories told to “young folks” in Suffolk in the 1570s which included telling what luck everyone should have according to the day of the week.

If you’re interested you can check out the day you were born and see if you think it’s true for you!

In any case, I’m sure that Elsa is the most interesting and most important person I’ve met this year.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_assignment/writing-101-day-six/  Check out some of today’s other posts here!

Writing 101, Day Five: The Letter.

Today’s prompt (well, yesterday’s I’m overdue!): You discover a letter on a path that affects you deeply. Write about this encounter. And your twist? Be as succinct as possible.

The sun stroked my cheeks as I sank lazily on the deck chair at the Bankside Café, facing Richmond Park. I indulged in this small luxury every Friday, before checking in at the library. As I sipped my cappuccino, a grey weightless bubble caught my attention, rolling along the pavement. The torn page, which had been crumpled furiously into a ball, and discarded carelessly onto the floor, stopped by my surprised feet. I unraveled it and read the highlighted words…

I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever.’ I gasped, trying to shock my lungs back to work, before continuing, ‘I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago.’ My heart was now racing uncontrollably, ‘Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you.’ I wiped away the tear that burst out of my eye, while I read the rest of the message, ‘Call me’, followed by nine numbers firmly engraved over the typewritten words on the back of the page.

End of the 101 Challenge.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_assignment/writing-101-day-five/ Why not have a look at the other entries?

 

The letter quoted in this entry is one of the most famous love letters in English literature. It was written by Captain Wentworth to Anne Elliot in Jane Austen’s last completed novel, Persuasion, written in August 1816, a year before she died, and published posthumously in 1818.

Persuasion has a simple plot, although there are important subplots. Frederick Wentworth is a brave, handsome and wealthy captain, who has returned from maritime victories in the Napoleonic Wars. He is staying with his sister and brother-in-law, who have leased Kellynch Hall, which was estate owned by the family of Anne Elliot, who had broken their engagement eight years earlier. He publicly declares that he is ready to marry a suitable young lady, creating great expectations among the marriageable women of Bath.

Jane Austen, who died the year before Queen Victoria was born, is one of the best-loved authors of romantic fiction involving the landed gentry of the early 19th century. ‘Persuasion’ refers to the pressures employed by society on women regarding love and marriage, and deals with the conflicts they face between free will, duty and responsibility.

I will be writing a fuller review called ‘Rereading Persuasion’, soon, meanwhile here’s the whole letter, which I hope will encourage you to read this wonderful novel.

I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never incon¬stant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent crea¬ture! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W-