Building off of a previous post, I wanted to make Fridays the day of the week that I share excerpts of writing that I’ve done in the past through writing prompts, random stream of consciousness, parts of larger works, or as part of my 100-200 daily word exercises.
The point being to attempt to examine what I’ve done for clarity sake and whether or not I can make sense of it…not only to those who read it but to myself as well.
The concept of establishing atmosphere hasn’t left me since the Word Vomit article that I presented last week (find it here). So much so, that even my daily 100 word exercises have included a few examples (or at least attempted to). Perhaps in the next few weeks I will share a few but today I’ll be highlighting writing based on a prompt that I did back in 2014. The main reason being to pick away a bit further at providing the reader with a scenario that they can conceptualize and understand right away. Even if the scenario is implied to be extremely chaotic. What better way to try and set the atmosphere right?
The word prompt that I did at this time was found on a random website that I cannot even recall anymore. I have pretty vivid memories of being on a ‘break’ from writing just about anything (minus struggling through NaNoWriMo later that year) due to extreme writer’s block. But I gave this the old college try:
“Your character wakes up in the middle of something big going on. He/she is forced to react. What happens?”
“Alex Winters regained consciousness as the world seemed to burn down around him. A loud crash, big enough to pierce the otherwise placid evening, set the entire area into a frenzy.
He took his first big gulp of real air and tried desperately to catch his breath. His eyes opened to a deep purplish and red tinged night sky; the smell of burning wood was practically strangling the air. The smoke was so strong that he found himself breathing through this mouth in order to avoid the dense odor.
He was lying down on a rather large bale of hay. It had to have been six feet high and in the middle of a small cornfield. It would’ve been peaceful if not for the chaos around him.
Outside of the cornfield, Alex could hear the screams of dozens of people, who were desperate to find refuge from the death raining down on them. He cast his eyes back up to see hundreds of extremely tiny twinkling objects in the night sky. To the casual observer, they would simply consider them stars; and some were. But others were something far more dangerous that were heading their way as he lay there.
A loud thud in the distance confirmed his worst fear as screams in the background followed. Comets. Hundreds of comets were hurtling out of space and falling down toward the planet at an alarming rate. The initial wave had narrowly missed civilization, instead crashing into nearby lakes and ponds. One even hit an old abandoned factory that had long been emptied.
That quickly changed as a small neighborhood was the next target; then the capitol building of the city; and then several elementary schools at the same time. The horror that followed as more and more came from space had been constant for the last few days. The city was hardly recognizable anymore.”
A little bit longer than what I usually share, but I wanted to include what was essentially the opening premise of my short story.
Yes, you read it correctly, COMETS ARE FALLING OUT OF THE SKY ONTO THE PLANET!! In my head I pictured my protagonist, Alex, waking with shock, his nerves at high alert and his adrenaline pumping. Why he was on a bale of hay in the middle of a field? What caused this cosmological disaster? Was there anything special about Alex? All questions that would be covered as the story unfolded and the reader continued. It was around five pages long, ending on a cliffhanger. But my point here is looking back at the opening and actually not feeling too bad about this one.
Being that it’s exposition, it’s much harder to ‘show’ and not ‘tell.’ But I attempted, utilizing the action of a hurtling comet (thud in the distance) to signify immense amounts of destruction imminently approaching. It’s a science fiction disaster story, something that I’ve never really done before. Rereading it, I feel pretty ‘blah’ about the whole thing. Maybe I’ll cannibalize some ideas for it in a later story, but for now I’ll just reflect on it.
Until next time.