Writing Exercises

I have always enjoyed various writing exercises. So this exercise is one in describing a “mood.” The goal is to use vivid imagery and all 5 senses to give the reader an accurate “feel” for the emotions of the character. The following three snippets are each describing a different emotion… see if you can figure out what each paragraph is trying to convey:

1)    The sun was warm on her head and shoulders as she stood on the front lawn holding the hose. The water hissed and sputtered at the spigot where it leaked out in every direction. The leaky spigot did not keep the water from gushing through the hose, however, and as she held the nozzle in her hand and pressed the rubber lever a steady stream of water sprayed out over the lawn. Drops of water began to slowly collect on the long, green blades of grass. The thatch that had been dug up earlier by the slit-seeder began to change color from light tan to a darker brown as the water from the hose rained down upon it. Water began to pool in the patches of dirt where the old grass had died off and the new grass seed had been planted. And still the sun beat down. Although the air itself was mild, the warmth of the sun on her shoulders began to grow increasingly hot. Her shoulders and ears began to burn. She passed the spray of water back and forth across the grass; at her feet, the water that dripped down from the leaking spigot began to pool and the cold water brushed up against her toes causing her to jump slightly. She could feel beads of sweat beginning to form on her face and so she moved down the lawn into the shade of the tree that stood at the corner of her house. Even as she walked she held the lever of the hose nozzle compressed so that the water would continue to spray out over the lawn, activating the new grass seed and causing it to begin to grow. The fingers on her right hand began to cramp and she switched the nozzle to her left hand while she flexed the fingers of her right hand and then shook it out. She put her right hand in the stream of the cold water and felt the muscles begin to relax.

2)    A soft wind swept through the trees, across the field and down the hill to the frozen lake, brushing up the powdery top layer of snow as it passed and causing the tiny crystals of snow to dance through the air on shadowy legs. The silver moon gazed down over the landscape, its brightness magnified by the whiteness of the snow. Stars, like brightly glowing snowflakes peered down from the clear black sky, their light not competing with the brightness of the moon and yet still starkly visible against the dark canvas in which they had been painted. At the edge of the field stood a grove of trees. Crystalline branches covered in ice sparkled in the moonlight. The wind whispered across the snow, a soft voice, so quiet that one would have to strain hard in order to make sense of the words. The ice-coated branhes clinked together as the wind passed over and around them. A set of footprints crossed the field, winding from the trees down to the frozen lake. Pools of shadow lay at the bottom of each print because the snow was so deep. Whoever had passed by had been forced to trudge through snow that was nearly knee deep. Despite the whispering of the wind and the clinking of the branches, a quiet seemed to fill the air, a silence so thick and heavy that it lay over the top of the snow like a down-filled blanket. No animals ventured out of their warm burrows or hiding places this chilly night, no howls or chirps disturbed the silence of the darkness.

3)    While the kitchen was still as colorless and austere as the rest of the palace, it was the only place where smiles were seen and laughter was heard; not often, but it did happen every now and then. Gregoire had grown up in very solitary circumstances. The other servant-children did not laugh or joke; in fact they hardly even talked. They were a quiet lot, and they kept to themselves. In the kitchen, however austere the decoration, at least there was noise and color. All was clanging of pots and loud-voiced cooks and hustling here and scurrying there. Where everything else was strict, orderly, tidy, and sterile, the kitchen was a place of life and seeming chaos. Sauces were stirred briskly and batters were whisked. Eggs were beaten and meat and vegetables were chopped into tiny pieces and thrown together in steaming skillets. Cooks moved about the kitchen as if performing a dance, white aprons whirling as they moved from counter to stove and back again. Smells of all kinds of different foods wafted up from various stoves and mingled together, creating smells that would make anyone’s stomach rumble loudly. In the morning, the smell of bacon could always be identified, along with the crackling and popping of grease in the pans on top of the stoves. Some mornings would find the kitchen rich with the smell of cinnamon if one of the cooks had decided to make a coffee cake instead of the usual bacon and eggs. In the warmth of the afternoons there was always some sort of brightly colored fruit salad to go with whatever the main course was to be. The cool evenings often brought the scents of spiced meats and warm aromas of different sauces that would be poured thickly over bowls of pasta or rice.

Have fun!

~ jenelle

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