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Thursday, December 28, 2017

On Writing: Slow Motion Moments

**On Writing is a series of posts about, well, writing. They will mostly be geared towards writing fiction, but writers of other genres will find them useful as well.**
         Some events in our lives seem to go on forever in our memories. While a car accident may take mere seconds, our memories play them out and extend them, making each moment, each tick of the clock, feel as if it takes up it’s own hour. Character’s memories of traumatic events or important actions may be drawn out to help the reader see exactly how influential the event is to the reader.
As we write, we may “extend out” a moment in order to describe it in detail, almost as if we’re holding it on “pause” so that we can show more detail and really paint the picture of what is going on in the imagination of our reader. The writer has to create an alternate world for the reader so that the reader can literally imagine everything they’re reading about in their mind’s eye. While this may seem simple, it can be difficult to force yourself to slow down time in your story to show those moments. The focus becomes on description typically rather than what a character is thinking or saying because thought and dialogue requires more time.
Interested in this challenge? Let’s try it out! Describe a scene that takes place over about 10 to 30 seconds. Avoid internal monologue – focus on your description. If there is a character in your description (there doesn’t need to be), describe what they see (but not what they think about it). You say you want more of a challenge? Keep it to 300-700 words…ooh, a word limit means we need to be SUPER focused. I’d love to see your results! Post them below in a comment! One of mine is below.
A Texas Thunderstorm
By Liz Wright
She sat on gravel and loose sand where the pasture rose up to meet the dirt road, watching the sky. Sweat trickled down her hairline slowly, mixing with the dirt on her skin. Her t-shirt, soaked with sweat and nearly see-through, easily signaled the heat and humidity indices of South Texas. Dust and hay stuck to her shoulder-length light brown ponytail while the wind blew her hair around her face.
The road veered towards the house and to her left. She watched as her brothers patched fence. She dragged on her cigarette, observing the sky above the tree in the pasture as it darkened. The sky surrounding the tree began as a hazy blue but quickly, as if experiencing a passing angry spell, took on a dark grey and then a charcoal tinge.
It was an enormously tall and round tree, demonstrating its age. The small green and yellowing leaves hung drowsy on the limbs and off shoots, devoid of water and sapped of energy by the heat. Below the tree, light yellow rectangular boards on stakes indicated which family pet was buried below them: “Lilly, 2005-2007,” “Missy, 2003-2016,” and twelve others were shielded from the coming storm by the massive tree. Dirt and exposed tree roots wove between the signs.
A lone cold raindrop pelted the skin on her arm as lightly as a dropped dull pencil lead would. She lifted her face to the sky and watched as the charcoal clouds overtook the landscape. Another large and chilled raindrop landed next to her dust-covered boots, creating a small explosion of dust. The intermittent drops hit individual leaves on the trees with random tap, tap, taps. The taps became louder and closer together the closer the clouds came.

The dark gray cloud quickly flew over the pasture, bringing its sheet of rain. She could see the actual wall of drops as it moved closer and closer. The tapping on the tree leaves increased until the sound mirrored that of rain on a tin roof. The sky around the tree was almost as dark as the air under the tree now. Drops pelted the earth, sending up tufts of dust but never creating puddles as it moved so quickly. The drops on her skin multiplied, and before the cloud swept away her cigarette, boots, and jeans were rain splattered, creating star-shaped patterns on the paper, leather, and dusty material.

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