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Working on the Craft: No Ideas, But in Things

This exercise from The 3 A.M. Epiphany is in a section titled “Images”, and the goal is to tell a very short story (300 words) only in imagery. The character should be a part of it, but rather than show their thoughts or words, the author has to focus on their actions and movement instead. I found it eerily calming, as well as detached, which Kiteley says is a common effect of this exercise. Showing emotion through (in)action rather than word, is an extremely valuable skill (duh), and this was a very enjoyable way to explore i.

She walks out of the back door, and into the small garden. The muted light of the invisible sun paints the dome of mist in swirling pale gray. A small path leads from the house to where the two copper chains that hang on their short rods almost meet. Forming an exit, should she wish to exit their tenuous protection. She stops in the middle, staring at the meager yield of the mushrooms to her left. Avoids looking to the right. Sighing, she leans over, plucks a few that are ripe enough. She puts them in a small basket, but does not pick it up.

Her eyes move up, stop at the wall of mist behind the mushroom patch. She rises, slowly, and walks around, so she could approach the copper chain. It reaches to about her waist, and the gray wisps strain against it, as if pushing, wanting to invade the garden. Her face tightens. She reaches with a bare hand, and the mist pushes even closer. Her fingers are almost touching the tendrils when the metal bracelet on her wrist glows and a dagger materializes in her hand.

The mist recoils, as if burned, an angry hissing sound coming from where the silvery blade touched it. She smiles now. A cruel smile, but also brittle. Exhausted.

She turns back, and heads for the small house, leaning to snatch the basket on her way. Her eyes stay focused on the door, never straying to her right. But once her fingers are pushing against the grainy wood, she pauses.

Her eyes close. Tighten.

She looks behind her shoulder, at the small grave post in the mud. The soil there is still uneven, and her eyes trace its short length. One foot. Two feet. Stop.

She walks inside the house, her stride unsteady. But her eyes are dry.

Published inWorking on the Craft

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