Sunday, October 22, 2006

The writer in me

I've always loved writing. I went through an anguished poet stage early on when I was much, much younger. I have no idea whatever happened to them but alas they are gone. And I remember way back in grade 4 or 5. I wrote a poem that came in first in the glass. A few fellow students accused me of having one of my parents' write it and I can still dredge up the indignation that I felt at that accusation. In the back of my mind I always had this nebulous idea of someday maybe writing something that might sell but it always remained way back there where it didn't bother me much. Having a blog really soothed it. But I signed up for a creative writing course when my life changed so drastically. Every week the teacher assigns us an assignment. The first one was a 500 word (or thereabout) character description. We then have to read it out loud in front of the class for critiquing. So - laying it all out there - here is my first assignment.

One of the reasons she had been promoted through the ranks and into the role of executive assistant quicker than most was because of her intuitive powers of observation. She spied him getting onto the private elevator that would bring him to the top level.

He stood there in the elevator, his hands clasped loosely in front of him. His dark gray suit jacket was obviously an expensive one; it hugged his well built frame just right. She guessed that it had been tailor made just for him. It would be hard to find one with such perfect fit for his large frame. The gray shirt she noticed was also costly and the matching silk tie, was tight against his throat. It was clear it had been done by an expert hand.

Most people would fidget if they knew they were being watched and the small camera high in the elevator with its green light glowing was a sure indicator that he was under observation. Yet he remained perfectly at ease, as if he didn’t give a damn with whatever someone watching might think. His close cropped golden hair shone in the artificial lights, his skin tanned as if he had just returned from a tropical island.

She judged his age to be around 35, and although it was from a camera, she could still see the steel glint in his vivid blue eyes, framed by his dark brows. His nose straight and slim but for a slight crook in the middle as if it had been broken once or twice. His lips appeared full but firm.

Overall he was a very good looking man, with the kind of charisma both men and women would notice as he walked by. There was stillness to him, a calmness that indicated he was comfortable in all situations. “He would need that” she thought to herself.

The elevator reached the top floor and opened. He exited and she switched her glance to the next camera and watched as he strode down the hall, looking neither to the left or the right. He walked on, not even glancing at the names on the other doors as if he knew exactly where he was going. He reached the door to the outer office and she held her breath – waiting to see what impact he would have in person after watching him so intently. She quickly turned off the cameras and prepared herself. The door opened and he walked in. He glanced briefly at the closed door on the right and then directed his gaze directly into her eyes. She knew instantly she hadn’t braced herself enough for the powerful gaze or the intensity of his deep blue eyes, the colour of the deepest ocean, as they zeroed in on her. Power seemed to radiate off him as she raised her eyes to his. His perfection was marred only by the slight crookedness of his nose, more noticeable in person.

“Yes? May I help you?” she asked suddenly shaken by the knowledge that she was in the presence of someone cold, someone chilling.

Stirling. Stirling Fletcher to see Mr. Warner” he answered, his gravely voice deep and commanding.

She knew right away that her boss just might have bitten off more than he could handle with this man. She picked up the phone to dial and let him know that his next appointment was here.

The general consensus of opinion of the class was that it was pretty good, but I should have opened with a description of him, rather than starting with her. Of course the class doesn't know yet about my OVERWHELMING love of romance and that, of course, I was thinking romance between her and Mr. Fletcher. I sent it to Cindy before the night we were too hand it in for her opinion and she seemed to think it was good. One of the difficult things to do was to make it "correct" grammatically speaking. I have a tendency in writing in the blog or emails to not really care about grammar. I think most of us do; we write more the way we speak than the way we would write. Plus it has been many years since I was in school and it's very easy to forget many of the rules I learned.
Now - if only I can get going on this weeks assignment. It's a 500 word (or thereabout) exercise in dialogue. This one is giving me fits! I don't know if it's because of the week I had or what - but I really must get to it! Soon!

'til later

PS - and why the heck have the fonts gone all kerfluie???


Mailyn said...

In all honesty I loved it. Trust I am honest and if I didn't like it I wouldn't even comment on it since I like to be nice to my friends. I liked the fact that you opened with her instead of him since it's different. Most books write in sequence and thus would start with him and then her. I like it better how you did it.

Re. your other posts, Lord of the Rings...never a paranormal. That hurt the nerd in me. :-P

It's Fantasy. High Fantasy. But I forgive you since you are the Derek Craven's fanclub president. LOL.

nath said...

I thought it was really good Kristie :D you know, maybe you should try your hand at writing romance :D

as for grammar, it's such a bother :D

Rosie said...

I think it's a good description. The class must not be readers if starting off with her bothered them so much. In books descriptions of characters come in all sorts of ways.

I took a writing class for a semester to keep a friend company more than anything else. It was so hard to write what the instructor wanted us to instead of whatever was on my mind. I don't think I could ever do it for a living or anything.

Kristie (J) said...

Mailyn - I hearby smack myself in the forehead and apologize to the nerd in you. Fanatsy! Of course. I knew that!
And glad both you and Nath liked it! I'm not sure where I'll go with writing although goodness knows at the moment I have lots of time to do all kinds. And while somewhere way back in my mind I'd love to attempt to write a romance - don't a lot of romance readers - I don't know if I could or not. That would mean writing red hot sex scenes and while I like reading them, (really like reading them) the thought of ME actually writing them sends me into whoops of laughter. As I'm sure it does my sisters should they chance to read this. I see something more along the lines of Stephanie Plum although who knows - maybe I could bring forth my inner Sex Goddess. I have one! Somewhere!

Keish said...

WOW. I liked that a lot.

My face kept keeping closer and closer to the monitor.

Meghan said...

If you're having trouble with the dialoge, I recommend sitting on some form of public transportation for a few hours and casually listen to people talk. I get great ideas from riding the metro everyday.

meljean brook said...

Great start out! Good flow, nice details. It's hard to say where to begin a scene -- sometimes you have to get all the way through it before you know that maybe you can cut out the first bits, or realize where the most striking start is.

The one suggestion I'd have at the beginning is to let us know right away that she's looking through the camera. It's a strange detail, and immediately catching: why a camera? What kind of guy does she work for that she's checking out the elevator camera? (and will make the observation later, that her employer won't know what he's getting into with this guy, more powerful). It also adds that little voyeuristic thrill--even if it's her job to do it--and a bit more "grabby".

Finally, if he has an appointment and he's expected--and he's the powerful arrogant type--maybe try just having him say his last name after she says "can I help you". He's the shit, cold as ice -- show us that. He doesn't have to explain himself to an assistant.

And then you can have her think something like: Stirling Fletcher. Five o'clock. -- or something like that, so the reader still gets his full name and all of that information.

Jennie said...

Very nice, Kristie! I especially like this bit:
Most people would fidget if they knew they were being watched and the small camera high in the elevator with its green light glowing was a sure indicator that he was under observation. Yet he remained perfectly at ease, as if he didn’t give a damn with whatever someone watching might think.

He sounds hot already. ;)

And you should totally write romance! You have to write what you love to do your best, I think.

Kristie (J) said...

Keish: Thanks *blushing*

Meghan: I worked on the dialogue one most of the day so I have it done - except of course for changes. She gave us the first and last line this time
First line: You've got to be kidding
Last line: I can't believe your such a cheapskate.
That made it a bit easier and a bit harder! That only left me with 450 or so words left.

Meljean: Thanks so much for your imput!!!! And excellent suggestions. I see what you mean.

Jennie: I started out with a hit man in mind, but as he came more into focus - well - that went out the window *g*.

Mailyn said...

OK, I had to come back because now there is one tiny problem....I have to know what happens!!!! Is there more? Could you find it in your heart to share with us? Because this is damn hot already and I just have to know!

I'm pushy. I know. :-P

My inner nerd says it's OK. LOL.

Kristie (J) said...

Mailyn: LOL - sorry, but that's all I have of it for now. That's what some in the class said too - they wanted to know what happens. The other assignments are all totally different. But who knows - I just may go back and write more. If I do I promise I'll send it to you :) One of the things I have to figure out is what he does and why he is seeing her (see - she doesn't even have a name) boss.

Keish said...

Yea! I agree with Mailyn.

The only thing I have trouble with your lil story was that he knew where to go.
And why did he walk into the surveillance room?

*sticks finger and mouth with wide eyes*

Lori said...

Kristie, that is very very good. I really liked it! It definitely made me wanna know what was gonna happen next. Great job!

CindyS said...

Now see, getting advice from Meljean is the BOMB!!! You're so lucky ;)


Mailyn said...

Thanks Kristie! Yeah, now I'm all like "oooh so is he gonna kill her boss? kidnap her?" He sounds like the type of hero I love: overly confident cocky bastards!!! LOL.

meljean brook said...

"The only thing I have trouble with your lil story was that he knew where to go.

Ah -- this is the type of question you'll grow to love, especially when trying to figure out why your characters are doing something. Lost? Have no idea what they're doing? Sometimes the characters will take you there, and you'll have no idea how it happened...but then you're there.

For example, a question like this might make me think: okay, how did he know? Has he been there before? If so, what kind of dealings would it have been...after hours (because the assistant doesn't recognize him).

And also because the assistant doesn't recognize him -- but we KNOW she's a great assistant, because she told us -- we know that Stirling's not a big-name businessman (whose face would be in a lot of papers, and who the assistant would know, being a good assistant and on top of all her employer's business dealings (and rivals)). Or, if he is, he's reclusive (and that could take you down another path.)

One of the great things about that critiquing process are these questions -- and they may initially seem to point out flaws (and sometimes they really are flaws) but in that initial draft, these kind of questions (why why WHY?) are also a valuable way to develop the story and motivations. You'll find you've written something, and then you're like: wtf do I do with this now?

Sometimes you can do great things with it. Sometimes not, and you end up ripping it out. Either way, the process of it is just way too fun.

Kristie (J) said...

Meljean: I agree! Critique away. I think that's way so many authors seem to be in critique groups. Sometimes I imagine it's hard to be objective about one's own writing and I would think a critique group would be a wonderful tool.
For the final exercise we each have to do a 1500 word exercise that will be passed around the class for everyone to critique and one of the classes coming up is on how to critique so I'll learn how to do it with what I write. This particular exercise was supposed to be 500 words with a 10% leeway either more or less than. And the teacher asks the word count *g*. I was already over my limit with words.
They are excellent questions Keish asked and I wish the teacher had given us 600 words so I could add more to motivation *g* But for this one, what I mostly focused on was him - and did the description create a good picture in the mind. Also I wanted to start with a question and end with a question - leaving them wanting more so to speak. One of the exercises she has us do in class is practice "What if?" and "why?" and "what is the "conflict?" Another big one is showing instead of telling - a concept I'd heard readers complain about but never quite understood. I think this course will help me in reading as well as writing.

Kaitlin said...

I liked it, Kristie. At first I was thinking "How is she seeing him," but then you gave it away. :)

The winner of the writing contest wrote a story that was so good! It was one of those where all I could think was "What next?" I'm huge on what next. :)

Good luck!

Zeek said...

Ahhh, very nice! (You've got some great suggestions from Meljean!)

I'm so happy you are getting this chance and it's making me yearn for getting into something like that myself!

Keep it up Woman!