Friday, August 27, 2010

Word Painting Blogfest

Thank you to Dawn Embers for hosting this blogfest.

Old school romance is very flowery. My husband once joked that every noun had to have at least two adjectives.I don't write like that. The authors I enjoy reading do not write like that. I think it's much more effective to create the ambiance of the environment without overdoing it. I'm not reading poetry, I'm reading a story and I want to know what happens without cluttering everything up with too much description.

But I do want to be immersed in the story, and the description helps.

My entry is from my W.I.P., Courtly Christmas. It is set in a winter garden. I wanted to give the feeling of the environment, the beauty and the cold, but not overdo it.


White snow dusted the garden. The plants themselves had no hope of surviving the chill, but for the moment, they looked magical. Frozen in time.
Anne laughed as a clump of snow fell on Mary’s head. Mary shook the hood of her cloak, spraying Anne with flakes.
Mary took a deep breath and felt the chill sting her nose. “I have always loved winter.”
“ I remember that.”
Arm and arm the two ladies took their time. Being outside in a frosty garden triggered a memory. Mary laughed out loud at thought of one instance. “Remember that year that the Signore Pantalones was meeting with Lady Burghley’s companion in the still room?”
“Yes, and we waited outside for hours, hoping to catch a glimpse to see if he really was as hairy as he seemed.”
“He had hair tufting out of the top of his ruff. It was disgusting.”
Anne lowered her voice conspiratorially. “It was even more disgusting when we saw what he and Lady Collins were doing in the still room.”
“Aye.” It had only been disgusting because Signore Pantalones was the one doing it. Mary had never liked the greasy, little man. “I caught the ague from being out in the cold so long.”
“And father found out and had Lady Collins sent back to her family.”
Both ladies laughed together over the reminiscence, but Mary could not help but wonder whatever had become of Lady Collins? Had her family accepted her back? Had she married? What if she had gotten with child?
“Anne, have you heard anything more about Lady Collins?”
Anne paused at the odd question. “No. Why would I?”
“I just wondered. She had been in your mother’s household for a few years – almost like family at that point.”
Anne did not respond, focusing her attention instead on a frost encased bloom. The Queen’s privy garden was guarded by a high wall, so they were well protected from the wind. The snowfall from last night was even, covering all the foliage. The groundsman must have been out first thing that morning to clear the paths. Mary could feel the chill working its way through her woolen gloves and clapped her hands together to warm up. Everything around her sparkled like a fairy story; Mary wondered if Anne could even see the beauty around her.
Mary chose her words carefully. “Do think it is fair that Lady Collins was sent away but Signore Pantalones stayed on for three more years?”
“He was our dance master – we needed him.” As always, Anne was matter of fact.
“But his behavior was just as scandalous as hers. Even more so, perhaps.”
Anne scoffed. “Mary, you are always so righteous. You have to learn the way of the world. Right or wrong, fair or no, it is what it and we abide by the rules.” Anne increased her step. “If you had behaved as you should the other night, you would not be in the trouble you are now.”
Mary sucked in a breath, too fast, in shock. The cold made her choke. Coughing she asked, “What would you have had me do? Smile docilely while a man threatened to rape me?”
“That man was an earl. My earl. You owe him your subservience.”
How much subservience was Anne talking about? “What if he had followed through?”
Anne straightened her posture and looked Mary in the eye. “I have thought about that. If he chose to take his pleasure with you, I would not blame you. We would be able to continue our friendship so long as he did not form any affection for you. It is the way of court and we both must accept it.”
Mary had nothing to say. There was nothing she could say. Clearly Anne was not the friend Mary thought she was. It was odd – that knowledge didn’t even make her sad. Angry, maybe? No, she had nothing to say.
They walked on in silence. Mary focused on breathing evenly and keeping her mouth closed. Flurries had begun to fall and she did not wish to start coughing again or she might throw up.
She might throw up anyway.

13 comments:

Summer Ross said...

this was a well done piece. I especially love the descriptions in the beginning. very pretty sight it gave.

Raquel Byrnes said...

The frost encased bloom and the dusting of snow were perefect descrptions. Great job, Erin!

Edge of Your Seat Romance

Brenda Drake said...

Loved this --> "The plants themselves had no hope of surviving the chill, but for the moment, they looked magical." --> wonderful word paint. This was a fun quick read and I loved the relationship between the girls. Great job! :D

Laura Canon said...

I agree about description. I like it very tight and lean like this. It just seems focused, you know? Intriguing situation, too.

Elaine AM Smith said...

I loved this.
You described the wintry garden beautifully - its affects too. I could see it clearly.
Painting with words.

Theresa Milstein said...

You did a good job painting a picture. And not too many adjectives!

Postman said...

Winter imagery! That can be done right or done very, very wrong. This is quite all right. And the way it ties in with the story is even better. You've painted a memorable painting here.

Donna Hole said...

Two gossipy old ladies of court: the imagery was well done here. The setting, to tone, the subject matter. All flowed together nicely.

A good flash fiction piece I think.

...........dhole

RaShelle said...

The winter imagery was beautiful. I could almost see them breathing as they walked. You had me captivated and I don't even like historical romance (or so I tell myself). LOL

jcmartinfighterwriter said...

"The plants themselves had no hope of surviving the chill, but for the moment, they looked magical." and "frost-encased bloom" were lovely descriptions! I picture a winter wonderland, a pretty garden dusted with snow like icing sugar on a yummy dessert of summer fruits! :P Yum! Well done, brilliant painting with words!

roh morgon said...

You had several graphic canvases in this piece.

The first, and of course, the one that grabs the attention, is the beautiful description of the snow-covered garden. Your words do a wonderful job of illustrating the scene and anchoring us firmly in it. And you keep bringing us back with scattered references, reminding us where we are.

But the second, and more subtle canvas is that of the tension between the two women that slowly reveals itself and leaves us with a sense of horror at their individual predicaments. It led me to believe that Anne felt Mary should've succumbed to the Earl's advance because she has done so herself. Very well done.

I did get a little lost in the dialog in several places. 'Anne scoffed' and 'Mary had nothing to say' should be indented as new paragraphs.

I had momentary confusion over POV the first read - I had to go back and re-read to be sure we were in Mary's and not Anne's. I think this could be corrected by re-arranging one of the first lines: "Anne laughed as a clump of snow fell on Mary’s head." If you switched it so that Mary's name was the first mentioned in the sentence, I think that would firmly establish the POV.

This was a stellar piece - very well done!

Dawn Embers said...

It's a nice selection of writing. I like flowers with snow because sometimes our apple trees will bloom and then we'll get a spring snowstorm. The two girls had a nice element and the comfort in the conversation was interesting to read. It was a little weird to see laugh out loud, I think being on twitter and such is affecting me. ;-)
Thanks for entering my blogfest.

Erin Kane Spock said...

To all: To me, winter is surreal. I live in So Cal and we have no winter. I have memories of my childhood in Ireland, but even that was more frost than snow. I know in Elizabethan times, Europe was experiencing a mini-ice-age and it's hard to get my mind around what that would mean.
Thank you for your kind words. Made my day. It's nice to feel like you've done something right every once in a while. :)

Roh -- thanks for looking at the into the conversation. Rife with tension and covered over with shallow smiles. Some formatting was lost in the cut/paste into the blog. Point noted about POV.

Dawn - I didn't even notice my lol moment. I should change it but I almost don't want to. Talk about the modern sneaking into the historical. I have to be careful about that.Funny.

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