Write Right, Ya Ninnies: Aesthetics

Write Right, Ya Ninnies:

Aesthetics

First off, I’d just like to say, if someone has ever told you your writing was wrong, I really hope they just meant the grammar was off. Because if not, I have to personally go fight them on your behalf.

Hi there, I’m Phoenix B. Meadows, teen writer “extraordinaire”, and I’m here to impart some of my writerlyness unto you, since I feel weird calling it wisdom.

Aesthetics.

First of all, for those who look at this word and go “what the hell is she talking about, that isn’t a word,” I promise, it is, it’s just one that’s a pain to both say and spell.

So basically all the definitions for this word in my dictionaries are strangely long-winded and don’t get to the point, so here is what I mean whenever I say aesthetics: a part of an image, writing, etc. that brings up a specific feeling because of how it is displayed to the person viewing it.

So aesthetics bring up a feeling, whether it is sadness, joy, or just being creeped out, it’s important you get the right one, and that it doesn’t seem forced.

In my writing, I try to avoid words like, happy, sad, mad, and creepy to define a mood of the piece or present character (okay, creepy has a way of sometimes *cough*, creeping in). I like the reader to feel the happiness, instead of being bashed over the head by saying things like “Kate was so happy, as she went down the stairs to answer the door,” instead put something like, “Kate bounded down the stairs, rushing to get the door. She suppressed a giggle as she flung it open.” Not only does that now scream happy/excited, I’m willing to bet you want to know what is on the other side of that door…. I sort of do.

All that seems pretty easy though, right? Yeah, making you wonder why you’re reading this? Mm, maybe?

Well, that was only the character’s direct mood, and yeah, she’s happy, and it’s nice, but aesthetics should involve things like environment too. I know, writing emotion and environment stuff can be tricky, especially if it’s an action scene. But please, don’t get me started on action scenes or this post with NEVER END.

Let’s take the example with happy Kate and write it in two ways:

1. As happy and pleasant and joyful as we can (in a short amount of words)

And 2. as sad and dejected as possible.

Original: Kate bounded down the stairs, rushing to get the door. She suppressed a giggle as she flung it open.

1.
The chiming of the doorbell rang through the house, three long, bright notes. Kate hopped up, scrambling down the hall to the stairs. She hurled down them, stepping through sunny puddles of light and leaping the last two steps to the floor below. Grabbing the polished doorknob she practically tore it open, letting beads of sunlight pour in.

Still a pretty simple scene, but without ever using words like happy, I made it feel warm and excited and happy. If I’d said “she was happy” when she heard the doorbell it would be like hitting the reader over the head with the emotion and telling, rather than showing. Aesthetics is just showing, and using the surroundings to emphasize and magnify the desired feel. So I used things like, sunlight, and bright, and the eagerness with which the character—Kate—moved to show that everything was happy.

I personally, also greatly enjoy it when the scene is well described as being one way happy/sad/creepy, and the character is another, it’s a little hard to pull off sometimes. Someone sad might not see the sun rays as being a happy thing, you could describe them as being a mockery of how they feel, or make everything around them darker, there’s countless ways to change the aesthetics of a scene without changing the fact it’s sunny.

2. The doorbell tolled through the house like a rumbling thunder, waking Kate from her restless sleep. She slid from the bed, putting her feet into the bunny slippers next to it. One of them was missing an eye, so it looked like it was winking at her sardonically. She sighed, ignoring the bell as it went off again. Pulling a beanie cap on over her knotted hair, she started for the stairs. The hall was long and dark, rain cried over the window panes in streaks as it puttered up against them dully.

She descended the stairs, forgetting to skip the second to last step and earning a long squeak in protest. Crossing to the door, she stood up on tiptoes and looked through the peephole outside.

From this one we get the feeling that the character is depressed, and not taking care of herself. Her hair is knotted, she’s not sleeping well, hell, even her slippers are giving her sass. She thinks the rain on the windows looks like tears, and she doesn’t immediately open the door, excited to see someone, anyone. Words like “Tolling” and “bells” together cue the feeling of foreboding darkness in us from the very start, though it is a bit cliché.

So in conclusion, use aesthetics, they are your friend. Make a crapton of Pinterest aesthetics boards for a character, a rainy day, depression, happiness, etc., it’s fun, it’s helpful, and did I mention it’s fun?

I like to do exercises like this one with Kate. Take a character, and a place, and write it in three different ways, without aesthetics, with happy/excited aesthetics, and with something darker, like despair.

I hope this was helpful, and if not, no, you can’t have your five minutes back, sorry, I am not currently offering time refunds.

Now go and WRITE RIGHT.

Seriously, I will fight someone if they told you you write wrong and they didn’t mean using since instead of sense, or misspelling silhouette (because let’s get real, that word is impossible).

Where Once Lived Red

IT’S FRIDAY STORY TIIIIME

The ghost moved along the edge of the trees. Clouds of mist wafted out, trailing along behind the woman. Beyond, a little village watched in terror.

For the past three moons, she had risen. The ghost followed the line of trees till she made it to the path, then came up into the village, heading a massive fog bank. A softly howling wind pushed it at her back, and over the town.
In the distance, this wind could be heard as she approach the edges of the town. People watched from windows with the blinds drawn tight. Every time she came, a child from the village vanished in the night without a trace.
Tonight, the wall of mist that bubbled behind her shadowy form was a veritable mountain. It loomed over the town, sending cold fingers into it and all the people huddled in fear.
The cold enveloped the town, and fear turned to terror.
When the sun rose, a mother’s scream pierced the air.

________________________________________________________________

In a large cavern in the woods, she knelt, gently placing the small child on the damp floor. In the back of the cave, a little girl was crying. Ruffling the hair of the child she’d placed on the ground, she started toward the sounds of weeping. She went down in front of the girl.
“Don’t cry,” her voice was soft, airy. “You are safe now. Don’t cry my child.”
The small girl looked up into her face. Then reached out and touched her wispy curls, white as bone. She smiled at the child. “You are safe.”
“I want my mama.”
“She can’t keep you safe,” the words were sad. Lost, even perhaps. Then she smiled. “But I can. I can keep you and all the other children safe forever. And you will never have to grow old. You will never die. You will never know pain.”
Her fingertips trailed over the girls cheek. “You will have everything I could never give to my own children.”
Then the ghost kissed the child, and the place her lips touched against the girl’s forehead turned pale. It spread out over the girl, turning the warm amber of her skin the color or fresh milk. The last bits of shade to leave her were the browns in her hair and eyes, it faded out slowly. The child ceased her weeping, and the ghost stood. Only when the next child began to cry, did she go to them, bleeding them white where once had lived red.

Ring Of Silver, Ring Of Gold

It happened again! It’s Friday! And you know what that means? A short story. I hope you guys enjoy. This one is a couple of months old, since I haven’t had time to write many what with Camp Nano (met my goal 2 days goal! 🙂 ).

Ring Of Silver, Ring Of Gold

The ring of silver and gold encircles me entirely. I know that others have stepped into it, their bodies lie broken and battered around me, nothing left but shells of what they were. Most are simply bones.

Before I entered the circle, I counted at least sixteen of them in several forms of decay. The freshest only weeks old–a girl I saw die–and the most weathered is barely a scattering of bones.
I walk toward the open book in the center, knowing I am different than these others, knowing I will be the one to touch the book and live. I force the knowing down my own throat.
Around me, the silver and gold rings that appeared to be painted on the ground, begin to shimmer. The farther in I go toward the middle, the stronger the glow becomes. Till finally, when I am a few feet from the book lying open on the stand, light sprays out from them, forming massive domes–silver, then gold.
I knew this would happen, I watched as the last two tried this. The gold and silver barriers glow almost painfully, so I look away.
The pages of the book had began to flip, as if ruffled by some ghost breeze. Faster, and faster they turn. Around me the domes of light shimmer and writhe, as if locked in battle with each other.
I am different though. I know it to my soul, I know it in the tips of my gold and silver coated fingers. I am different, I will not succumb to the power. Over and over I repeat this in my head, nearly a fanatical repetition at this point.
The pages turn faster as I reach out for them. My hands tremble.
Words in a language I don’t yet speak flash by. Different. The walls crackle, and the magic makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand. Different. I know what to do, I am the one born of silver and gold. This is my birthright.
A small smile twitches my lips as I reach out and grab the book. The walls are sending off sparks now, but no bolt of power shoots down into me like the last two.
I am different.
With an effort, I close the book. It is as if it actively wishes to resist me. Then suddenly, it snaps shut.
I hold it close to my heart and walk for the still crackling walls. But now I know, I know that it is meant for me, for I am the first to touch it since the time of the Molten Wyrm. I am the new dragon, and I have taken what’s mine.
The walls of the domes of silver and gold let me pass with ease. The smile returns to my lips, it has been too long since I last smiled.
Without a single word, the new dragon passed from the sacred place, holding texts that no one had read in a millennia, and returned to the world. For better or ill, the world would find its drakes and queen dragons again. And the new dragon would be the one to lead them into it.

My Tips To Nip Procrastination

When you have a story but just can’t seem to get any words down because of that new netflix series or obsessively checking Facebook to see if anyone replied to that witty comment you made, what do you do?

Here are my tips for nipping that procrastination in the but and getting to what you really need to do: write.

First off, a quiet place, away from anyone watching tv. Not always available, but when it is, it really helps.

Second, music. Okay, okay, this might seem like it goes against the whole quiet thing, right? Well, at least for me, it doesn’t. When I put that headset on, with music I know well enough to sing backwards, it all just goes away. All the outside distractions, and the words to the songs vanish into the backdrop.

Still can’t get words? I like to find someone to write against. That might not make very much sense, so I’ll explain it a little better. There’s moments when you want to write, but find too many other things to do instead. But, if you’re writing against someone, you feel obligated to at least try to win, and keep your word to write too. In the end, it doesn’t really matter who writes more in however long you went crazy and spilled words for, you got some words, and that’s some more than you had before.

Plotting, or outlining. I’m a panster, I like to go with the flow and have things just happen. I try to have a very general idea of where to go though, where to start and where to finish, and dear god, hopefully the middle. Without that, I flounder. The more outlined the faster I can write, but is it always better for the story? I think that depends on the writer, for me it makes the writing less fluid most of the time, but for a first draft that can still work. I’m not even going to get started on editing though.

I hope some of these tips helped! Go get those words done!

The Wolf In Red

 

“How traumatic would you say it was?” the woman asked, pen hovering poised over the small notebook she held.

I turned away, staring up at the ceiling from where I’d been forcibly reclined on the couch.

 “How traumatic is it supposed to have been?” I shot back.

 The woman blinked behind her slightly crooked glasses. “I… Um, that isn’t really an answer, Scarlet.”

 I shrugged, running a hand over my head and dislodging the floppy red stocking cap. It slipped to the floor. “I mean,” I started, fingers playing through the short-cropped mess of my violently dyed hair. Also, red. Honestly even more than the hat. “I didn’t really know the old bat, I’d never met her.”

 The therapist frowned. “But you watched someone die.” It was almost like she wanted me to feel bad. And after I’d been the one to almost die.

 “No,” I corrected her. “I watched a wolf, die.”

“But you know it was your grandmother.”

 “I don’t know what I know,” I growled. “All I know is that I was going to stay with her after Mother died, and that she wasn’t there. And that the only one there was a wolf, in her abandoned house. That is what I know.”

 “But it wasn’t a normal wolf, was it?”

 I stared at the ceiling again, listening to the clock tick. “Nope,” I finally said. “It wasn’t. Can I go now?”

 “We still have half an hour.”

 “So? I’m not the one paying for this shit.”

 I swung my legs off the couch, fixing the little woman with my bright gold gaze. She barely met my eyes before looking down, furiously scribbling something on the page.

“I’m leaving,” I muttered, grabbing my cap.

 “But we haven’t even gotten to the man.”

 I paused. “What About him? He cut the wolf in half with his chainsaw and saved me. Am I supposed to feel bad about that?”

 Silence.

 “Well? Tell me,” I glanced at her desk, reading the name plaque there. “Dr. Ven, what is it I’m supposed to feel?”

 More scratching on her page. Then she looked up, “You aren’t supposed to feel some way, you’re supposed to feel something. And I can’t tell you what.”

 “You seem pretty useless to me, then,” I said, turning toward the door. I let it slam behind me.

 I scratched my palm idly as I went down the long hall. In the waiting room, he was sitting in a chair, reading from a magazine. My knight in shining armor. Or, rather, my lumberman. But, to me, they were one in the same.

 He looked up, and grinned. “Hey.” He tossed the magazine down and stood. “I thought you’d be longer.”

 I came forward and gave him a kiss, ruffling his spiky brown hair in the process. “Therapy is so dreary. What I need is food, I’m starving.”

 He grinned again, laughing. The sound died as his eyes flicked to my fingers, scratching at my palm again. I stopped.

 “You okay?”

 “Yeah, just itches.”

 He laughed. “Maybe you’re turning into a wolf, too.” Jack pushed on my shoulder lightly, laughing again at his own joke. But I didn’t laugh. I just stood there in a frozen silence, wondering at his words. Fearing them.

 I didn’t speak as he lead me down to the car. Not even when we got in. When we got to the diner, I ordered a rare steak, in as few words possible. Why had I ordered rare? I’d never done that before, I hated rare.

 But when it came, I ate it, the smell of blood making he more hungry than I thought conceivable.

 Jack watched me with wary eyes. Like he knew something I didn’t.

Thanks For Reading!

Writing In The Ink Of Souls

My life is like a sentence

With no commas and no end
It runs away
Falling and bounding over itself.

Typos strewn across the hills and bumps,

To make it an impossible read.

No one understands the mess
No one would want to.

The complexities are too great for skimming
And I know you skim.

It unfolds over mountains and into palaces that live

Inside my mind
Acres of stone built high and strong.

Built on words.

Sometimes right.

Sometimes wrong.

Little corrections and notes litter the edges
As if to address the mess

And place more atop

Diminishes it.

A land-field of deletions and removals,

Remaining hidden away
Memories in words red like ink.

Red like death and blood.

Red like a new rose and a fresh sunrise
Red like the hope of a new day.
All wrapped up and tried to be forgotten.

But once the words are written
Letters scratched out in the ink of souls
Once they live inside
They are locked in.
Shuffle and redeal
Making new hands.
But they hide among the letters in the deck.

Waiting.

Waiting in corners and shadows to spell again.
To tie knots to themselves and each other.

Till the color of the neighbor’s yard reminds you

Of the time you slipped in the grass and stained your
Favorite dress,
When you were five.

Till the sounds in the distance make flashes of words

You thought gone

Spell themselves behind your eyes.

So every time you blink,
You see them written there.

Written in the ink of souls.

Written in the language we all know.

Written in the dreams and hopes and fears.

Written in the ink of souls.

Write me in the ink of souls.

Have You Ever?

Have you ever tried to pour words out onto the page, and something wonderful happened?

Well, for me it has!

When one thing leads to another, and you find yourself lost in a world of words, you’re me.

With a little work (okay, maybe a lot) you can breath life into characters and a world of your imagination. And then, you aren’t just some weird person who talks to themselves!

You’re a writer.

From poetic creation to sprawling novels that stretch from horizon to horizon, I love few things more than to find that spark and turn it into something. Admittedly, it’s not always the best, but all creation takes time to practice.

I hope you like my work half as much as I like making it. Now, let’s go that dragon and save the damsel!