Sunday, February 20, 2011

In which I pretend to be entertaining.

Emma here. :)

How is everyone doing? We're in the midst of our K/C/WAL, but besides that we've all got our own, separate yarn and literary projects. I myself am knitting "Safire" for myself and a February Lady Sweater for my mom, working on them sporadically as the mood strikes me, and having limited success with a short story. (Operative word being "limited.")

From the group forum boards it seems that we have a large number of scifi/fantasy writers. That's pretty cool. I confess to having written a lot of very bad fantasy in my life. They are largely populated with tomboyish, kickass princess types and slimy, creeper, stereotypical, villains. Just based on that you could probably guess the plotlines of almost all of my stories. But for the rest of you who are able to write the genre welll, more power to you! :) I hope to read your books some day.

I've found my niche, if you want to call it that, in my historical fiction. (Boy, did that sound nerdy.) I have stories and parts of stories set in the American Civil War, the French Revolution, the Scottish wars for independence, the English Wars of the Roses, and the Spanish Inquisition. (The Scotland one is particularly embarrassing. The entirety of my research was careful study of the pictures on the outside of the Braveheart VHS box.) I like history because you can choose pretty much any time period you want, and the underpinnings of a plot are handed to you. As long as you develop your characters well enough, you can fling them into the whirling uproar that is revolutionary France or Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and watch the story spin itself. And when you get stuck, the historical events can kick and prod it along. (Enter the guillotine!)

While I'm thinking about it. . . Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird is far and away the best and most entertaining book about writing that I have read. She has this hilarious, sarcastic, self-deprecating style, and writing tips and narrative are woven together so well that you could read the book just for the giggles even if you weren't into writing.
Read it.


PS- Entirely unrelated to above, but I'm looking at patterns for a shrug/wrap to wear with my prom dress in two months! Yeeee! :D

Friday, February 11, 2011

Scene: This Room

I was trying to write a short story and I came out with this. There isn't much plot, but I like what it implies:

This room is dusty and bare. It has been disused for years and years. The ceiling is lofty, and carries a chandelier draped in a lace veil of cobwebs. The paper on the walls was a soft, fresh green, but the colour has faded and the paper is peeling. In one corner, it has come away completely. On the bare plaster underneath, someone has written things. But there is no-one here, now.
The window set into the southern wall is high and quite narrow, framed by long, elegant, moth eaten curtains. They were velvet once, but now they are worn completely smooth. The window looks out on a vast green expanse framed with tall, sturdy trees. This was velvet once, too. Now, it is overgrown with weeds, the grass has become knee-high, and there are things lying in it. Rubbish. Scrap. Waste.
In front of the window was a desk. You can still see the shape of it in the dust. It was big and grand, made of mahogany or some other expensive, polished wood. Someone wrote letters at it, a long time ago. To someone. Who never wrote back.
There are two pieces of furniture left in this room, aside from the ghost of the forsaken desk. There is a heavy wardrobe in one corner, and a huge four-poster bed takes up almost half the remaining space. The bed has been cold for decades, not slept in, untouched. Its sheets are crumpled and tossed about, chaos muted by an extra sheet of dust. The bed curtains have been torn down, and in each of the empty rings is woven a fossilised spider’s web. They look like rows of dream-catchers.
The wardrobe was locked, but the lock has almost rusted away. Easy enough, now, to open it with a penknife. The wardrobe has clawed feet and a crest carved with what seem to be eyes, and the wood has darkened with age. It appears almost black. The doors will barely open, because the hinges are just as rusted through as the lock, and at first it appears to be a waste of effort. The wardrobe contains blackness, nothing more. Its wooden eyes mock you; you came here seeking treasure. This room contains nothing of worth.
But see: at the very back of the yawning mouth, the blackness has a shape. Reach out and touch it, take it, bring it out of the darkness and into the light. It is dull light, from an overcast sky seen through dust-curtained windows, but by it you can see that you have found a garment bag. The black fabric is intact, it has been waxed and waterproofed to protect whatever it hides. The hook rising from its depths is blackened with age but not rusted; suspend it from one of the bed curtain rings. Break the dream-catcher. Roll up the old waxed canvas bag and see what hides within, abandoned here from another time.
The wedding-dress looks brand new.