Ok, this is really weird, I went to the dice rolling website and got remarkably similar results to Carol, although I don’t know whether you used a real die or not. Carol, I guess you got toddler, writer, in a busy city, 1950’s, a kitten. I got toddler, writer, in a small house, 1950’s, a kitten. So I guess the difference between you and me is my rolls ended with 666!
Anyway, in order to take a completely different approach and because I can’t put too much effort into this because . . . well because I can’t get the song “Oh, Canada” out of my head . . . here’s my not worthy of Carol’s and Gerald’s contributions, aka “And now for something completely different,” aka a silly bit of drivel:
Chuck Davenport was drenched in sweat. That really wasn’t the worst think that had happened to him in the last seven weeks. But today, it was like a torture. <i>The heat, the humidity, the insects. I can’t take much more.</i>
But even now, when he managed to push down the ever threatening insanity, the excitement came bubbling right back to the surface. <i>This has to light a fire under my career. I might even be famous! People won’t make fun of me for writing for the Enquirer anymore.</i>
The transatlantic flight had been exciting, yet arduous. At least the paper had allowed him the luxury of flight rather than making him suffer the steamship crossing. The airlines were now promising “jet” aircraft by 1960, but that was still more than a half decade away.
Then had come more flights from Europe to Africa. After that came the long inland trek, first following maps, then following rumors. And the rumors had been true!
After he arrived, he had spent the last week in this tiny tree house. That thought was all it took. Chuck was on the brink again. <i>I have to get out of here. I have all I need for my story. I can’t take it much longer. The heat, the mosquitoes, the screaming animals at night.</i>
Just then, Chuck heard voices in the jungle below. He stopped scratching and walked to the bamboo-stalk railing of the tree house and peered into the jungle. At first, he could only catch fleeting glimpses of flesh as the trio made its way toward him out of the jungle. But soon, he could see each of them plainly. As always, they were clad only in skimpy animal skins.
Just as his thoughts had taken him back to the brink of insanity, so the sight of the trio crossing the clearing returned him to visions of fame. He indulged his fantasies one last time as they clamored up the tree—he never understood how they did that—and poked their heads, one by one, through the hole in the tree house platform.
With his hosts returned, the tree house felt different. It still had no walls. Its roof was still tightly—but not tightly enough—woven oil palm branches. Its tree limb floor still made a corduroy road seem smooth. But now it was a home.
Chuck looked at each of them in turn. He would miss them all. But he knew he would miss Boy even more than he would miss Tarzan or Jane. He had developed a real fondness for the mop-headed imp. Perhaps because he had had a hard time communicating with Tarzan and Jane, Chuck had developed a natural affection for Boy and had spent large amounts of time with him.
Knowing that he would leave—that he had to leave for the sake of his sanity—tomorrow, Chuck serrupticiously watched Boy. He was playing with his serval kitten. Chuck never understood how Boy managed to follow his parents as they climbed into the tree house, let alone how he did it with his kitten tucked under one arm. But Boy always managed.
Chuck walked over to where they played and sat down cross-legged on the uncomfortable floor as he had so many times in the past week. He ruffled Boy’s hair and he stroked the kitten’s fur.
<i>If only I could just enjoy these moments, instead of letting the heat and the bugs and the noises torture me. But I do have to file this story with my editor. After all, it will make me famous.</i>
Affection. Torture. The allure of fame.
In the morning, Chuck left. Seven weeks later, he filed his report. He did become famous. But he never enjoyed it. His dreams were haunted with images of Tarzan and Jane. But especially with images of Boy and his serval kitten.
OK. I don’t have any examples of where I put forth a lot of effort to paint the scene with well crafted word pictures. But I do have two examples of where I deliberately used “gimmicks” (hopefully successfully) to induce the readers to subconsciously bring with them their own experience and/or data to paint the pictures for me in their minds that I would have painted for them had I had a larger word count. I think these gimmicks only worked (to the extent that they did) because of the very short fiction genre we are all working in. This is especially true of Across the Years (see next paragraph) which violated rule of thumb #3 big time.
Interestingly, they are my two highest placements so far (which is not saying much since I am just moving out of Beginners). The first is Across the Years: http://www.faithwriters.com/wc-article- ... p?id=26783
It got Highly Commended in Beginners. The second is The Descendants: http://www.faithwriters.com/wc-article- ... p?id=27257
It got First in Beginners.
Jan, I hope this is not counterproductive to your lesson. I’m sure you didn’t want to emphasize gimmicks. On the other hand, I was being as deliberate with all of this as I might have been with traditional techniques.