A Story Snip for Lingering Winter

Winter lingers on!

The prompt for the February excercise on the writers' forum was to reveal setting through character.

Here're the longer guidelines:

"1) reveal settings through your characters and 2) don’t stop the action. Here are some ways to do that:

1. Reveal setting through motion. Consider what your character would notice, either immediately, or in passing. What do they interact with? Show the attachment (or lack of it) they have to a place. Have your character physically in the space. For instance, don’t just describe a suitcase in the middle of the hall, but have your character weave around it. Diana Gabaldon once noted that readers follow movement, so create it. Have your character lifting, turning, acting in some way with the setting.

2. Reveal setting through a character’s level of experience. A character’s beliefs and experiences will influence what they notice. Age, position, education, training, superstitions, fears, sex, etc., will color the world of your character.

3. Reveal setting through character mood. What we notice is influenced by our mood. Hungry? Tired? Angry? What would your character notice in each instance? (A box of crackers, a hammock, a vase to throw?)

4. Reveal setting through the senses. The senses (sight, sound, touch, hearing, smell) are natural tools for revealing what the character experiences in a setting.

Don’t underestimate the power of your setting. Let your descriptions work hard for you. They create mood & feeling, and lend authenticity to the work. Settings can foreshadow events to come, they can alter the pace of the scene (in a good way), and settings can be obstacles to overcome.

Prompt: Write a scene that reveals the setting through your POV character. No travel guide writing allowed. No stopping the action."

Here's the scene I submitted, from The Handful of Time (working title).

I'm not sure if I should give any kind of background. I can at least mention that the city is Geneva, and that Christianne is dealing not only with illness but with addiction recovery.

After Rory left for his shop, Christianne didn’t spend any more time at the appartement, but headed out into the streets. Not that there was any less temptation there, but at least she did not have to be hemmed in, by four walls and a list of tasks. Including preparations for their wedding. She held up her engagement ring as she stepped out of the front door of the building, and the row and curl of diamonds sparkled in the weak sunlight. A list of tasks, many of them exciting ones that she looked forward to.

Yet she could not start any of it until she got through the tests at her oncologist’s this afternoon.

She set off on a long walk, pulling up the fur-lined hood of her ski jacket, to shield her face from the fierce bise wind. She’d go up to the Promenade des Bastions, up and over the old city walls, and come down along rue de Rhone near the lake. Do a bit of window shopping along the expensive boutiques, before dropping in at Chez Philippe to retrieve the scarf she’d left behind on Friday.

Then the bus up to the hospital.

She took it slow, stopping twice for an espresso, to warm up and not to be too tired before she’d even had her blood taken. She sent Rory a message, but he didn’t reply; he didn’t always hear his phone if he was working down in the garage rather than up in the office. He’d promised that morning to leave early and pick her up from the hospital in the evening. If she didn’t try to hide from him, as she had been, his support could help lift her. In the next few days, anyway, before she received her results. As for after, it was comforting to know he’d be on the long road.

Only it didn’t shorten the road any, or lower the hurdles.

She pushed off from the cafe table and headed back out into the cold. Down side roads, she caught glimpses of the lake, and then the Rhone once she’d walked past the first bridge. The surface of the water curled in endless ripples in the strong wind.

She stood in front of the Chanel window for a while, debating whether to enter and find out the exorbitant price of the knee-high suede boots that had caught her eye.

Maybe later, when they’d booked the venue for their wedding reception. She went on, and came out at the end of the row of shops, and turned the corner towards the restaurant. She’d timed it well, as it was past noon and they were already open.

The hostess directed her upstairs, saying there was a box kept behind the bar for that sort of thing. She trudged up, and halted at the top to let her eyes grow accustomed to the dimness. There was no one behind the bar, and there were hardly any customers seated at the tables, except for a handful by the window and a couple at one table beyond the bar. The woman looked familiar.

She moved up to the bar and, from behind the shield of her massive hood, stole another look. She recognised the back of Rory’s head, and then it was easy to place the woman.

She’d only seen his ex-wife, Mercedes, once before, at Melis’ wedding, and that from across the lawn, directly after the ceremony. Mercedes had not approached them, and Rory had made it abundantly clear that he had no desire to speak with her. She had not stayed for the reception.

Two choices, now. Approach them, which might cause a scene. Or, and even as the thought came she acted on it, sidle round to the end of the bar nearest their table and eavesdrop. Getting in close was easy; her coat covered every part of her. But it also muffled her hearing, and the restaurant’s noises, clattering cutlery, tinkling glasses, thumping techno, and steaming espresso, effectively drowned out the rest.

What could they possibly be talking about?

Hoping the weather warms up soon!
Is it still winter where you are?


Hi Deniz - as of yesterday ... I'm hoping Spring is springing and I gather we've had an easy winter this side of the continent - and I hope the next one is the same ... then back to the UK, and not so bad usually!

Excellent excerpt - now I want to know more ... I'm sure though if she moved close - she wouldn't hear properly, and they'd probably work out something was going on - but equally good story point. She's got her hands full though -

Take care and enjoy Easter and the coming of Spring - cheers Hilary
The icicles are huge. We have finally warmed up today!
Deniz Bevan said…
Thanks, Hilary!

We're up in the 20s (Celsius) today, Alex!

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