Thursday, February 28, 2013


One of my favorite bloggers, is Janice Hardy. She gives so much back to other writers. Her writing advice is always right what I need, when I need it. She is clear, concise, and great at giving examples. Recently, she ran a fun, generous contest.

Criteria: Write a 250-words or less opening that includes three critical details: An exotic setting, a world in economic decline, and character who has recently suffered heartbreak. 

Well, I should've been meeting my daily work count goal but ... it sounded way too fun to skip. I knew immediately what I wanted to write. Yes, it is a bit of an idea I've had on the back burner in my mind. I love while writing when the details just pop. I'd just read a bit about using dialogue from Pamela Fagan-Hutchins, a guest on Janice's blog and applied that too.

I never expected to win. The joy was in the challenge of creating a specific snippet. (My word of the day, according to my students.) After writing, I was filled with that sense of fulfillment from the energy of creation.

Remember, it is okay to take a break from your writing and write something completely different. At times I deprive myself from writing anything except for my WIP, but I've realized how therapeutic that release can be. Give it a go and write something different - just for the fun of it. Isn't that why we write any?

Here is my winning opening:

Her graying chicken nest hair stuck out at odd angles. Deep wrinkles lined her dark skin, but the way her milky, unseeing eyes stared straight into me, bothered me the most. I wiped the grime and sweat off my peeling, sunburned cheeks.

“He be cursed, child. Nottin’ gonna save him.” She cackled and tapped her crooked walking stick into the white sand.

“Please. Bring him back.” I grabbed for her bony arm, but she slapped me before I touched her. “I agree,” I swallowed hard, “to your terms.”

The turquoise waves of what used to be paradise lapped the beach behind this voodoo queen’s skirt, swaying with the balmy breeze or the devil’s fingers, I didn’t know which.

She stirred a pot strung above a fire, waiting…maybe considering. “There be no goin’ back.”

I rubbed at the chafed skin beneath my tattered sundress and nodded. “I understand.” I eyed the black pot. My stomach growled like a lion.

“You be starving, but you still be youself. He not be worth dis.” She scooped up a bowl and placed it in my shaking hands. I sank down and positioned the remnants of my dress beneath me.

The stringy meat sank in the thin broth. It could be rat. I guzzled it down and scooped the last of the gristly meat up with my grubby fingers.

Her shadow fell over me. A smile twisted her cracked bleeding lips. She cupped her skeleton hands and blew white powder into my eyes. Her face morphed and blurred.

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