It’s four days into March and I have yet to recap February properly. I didn’t want this year to feel like it was slipping away, but I guess I don’t really have control over some of that. And what do I do when I lose control of things? Ignore them! So here, instead of my plans for the rest of March, are some responses to an exercise a friend put to an online writing community I’m a part of.
Working from Thanks, But This Isn’t For Us: A (Sort Of) Compassionate Guide to Why Your Writing Is Being Rejected by Jessica Page Morrell, she suggested that we write several openings to stories that we didn’t have any intention of completing and that were outside our typical choices of genre. I chose three genres I have no current interest in writing in, decided to set them all in the field pictured below, and had at it. Because I don’t intend on trying to publish any of them I wanted to place them here. Feel free to comment or crit on any of the snippets, and as a bonus, see if you can guess which one was my favorite.
The landscape of the countryside was slipping away and blurring into one continuous bleeding red field before Cady felt calm enough to open the letter she’d been gripping tightly since she left home. It had been cowardly of James to not come see her in person, but she supposed that there was wisdom in an absent goodbye as well. After all, neither of them could be certain that she wouldn’t take to London and her aunt’s teachings, and if she did she wasn’t likely to want to return and be a farmer’s wife. Although, in books there was often a romantic wistfulness associated with working the land. Still, she knew the realities.
She turned the envelope over finally and slid one gloved finger under the sloppy seal he’d used to fasten it. Several crumpled red poppies fell out into her lap. The letter itself simply said: If you don’t already know what these mean, you should soon. I will give you anything. Don’t forget.
. . .
Ingles found summer murders to be tedious. Even his lightest linen jacket was too warm for the sun that beat down the open fields in the middle of July. The sweat on the back of his neck was distracting. The clashing green and red of the poppies waving mildly in the warm breeze was distracting. The way the local inspector would not simply stop talking about decency and morals and the way god fearing people should and should not act was distracting. About the only thing that Ingles didn’t find distracting about the scene of the crime was the corpse, which had apparently had the decency to be killed by a blunt object to the temple in a tidy way without causing a fuss.
. . .
The poppy fields were offensive to Asa. He claimed to think that they were beautiful flowers, and he could ramble for nearly half an hour in his deep, rusty voice about the curvature of the hill the fields rested on and those hills surrounding it, but it never sounded quite genuine. It was almost as if the primary beauty of it all–the bright redness of the flowers nestled amongst their green stalks under a blue sky holding a fierce yellow sun–was the most offensive thing about it. It wasn’t beauty for the sake of beauty anymore, it was beauty in remembrance of the war. Even in those days he was old, and could remember the time before the war. He claimed that there were other bits of beauty that would have been more appropriate.
“Crooked smiles,” he’d say after several minutes of quiet. “Why does no one share a crooked smile around a cigarette in remembrance? It’s surely what the soldiers would have wanted.”