Monday, December 12, 2011

Exercise three: Setting

I am ready for Day 3! Day 3 of what? Kindygarden? That weeklong time limit many action movies set for the destruction of the world? No. It’s day three of the 12 days of simple writing exercises. Today’s exercise is supposed to be a setting, based on the most beautiful places I’ve seen.

This gets you thinking. What is the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen? The Redwood forests of northern California where I grew up is probably at the top of the list. The boles of the trees go up and up forever before the branches spread. You don’t see the canopy without looking up, and it doesn’t allow for much undergrowth, so the forest looks like this landscape of enormous red toothpicks. We spent a lot of time out there in the wilderness. My folks scuba’d back in the 80’s and we went camping near the ocean for much of the summer. 

I spent most of my time in Oklahoma as a child. There is still something to be said for standing in a place where you can see the horizon line to the east and the west, and you’re standing on flat ground. Especially near sunset, that weird time when the stars are out and the sun lays on the horizon, painting the sky in streaks of sherbet. Darkness spreads above you, but the light still lingers near the horizon. It’s weird.

I think the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen isn’t real, and I’m looking at it right now. It came from someone else’s mind, but they may as well have split mine open and made it for me. I’m sure it’s digital, with probably painted images from other artists dropped in. You see, it’s my background picture I use for Scrivener - a fantasy wallpaper I found on the internet.

I guess this isn’t fair, but I’m going to tell you about it as my exercise. The grass is like a carpet. I mean, literally, it looks like a carpet. Well, a very cushy carpet, with fibers going every which way, interrupted with smatterings of wildflowers. And it’s almost European green. That green that you only see in helicopter shots of Ireland and Italy. The background is a series of low, stepped waterfalls; you know the kind, that churns the water into blue green foam, with spray catching the sun and shimmering over everything, so every photo looks like it was taken through a filter. The star of the image, or the place, if we’re pretending it’s real, is the tree. It would take at least two people to circle it with their arms, and the trunk is old and gnarled. Ivy clings to it like strands of green pearls.

Now that I look at it, this could an Elven ampitheatre. The steps of the waterfalls are large enough that you could use them like a stage, your audience sitting on the grass under the tree. You’d have to pitch your voice just right to be heard above the water, but Elven voices aren’t like ours, after all. I imagine if some fool hunter, or princess on the run from royal duties came stumbling into the glen, the Elves could just fade into the trees rimming the edge of the clearing or step beneath the highest water fall at the very back. Or just stand stock still. Humans aren’t exactly perceptive.


  1. It is wonderful to see you moving forward with the exercises! A friend of mind mentioned that she had a bad case of writer's block, so I shared the article and your blog with her. Hopefully she'll be inspired to write. :)

  2. Oh wow...I didn't even have to see the picture on the screen to see it in my head. Your description was beautiful! You're doing well with your writer's exercises! I totally saved the list of them to do when I'm feeling a bit blocked. But you're doing wonderfully. Can I come with you to that Elifen Empire? :)

  3. oh, my influence spreads. Tremble in fear, my friends... :) Thank you, guys, for stopping by and the kind comments. April, you can come if you bring cookies.