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writing landscape

Posted by on Feb. 28, 2012 at 6:54 PM
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For my fiction class, I have to write a 2-page "landscape" scene. I am having a hard time coming up with a landscape that isn't all about nature. I remember visiting some big city as a kid with a group of kids and some nuns, and we went down Skid Row where all the bums hung out. It was very scary. Any ideas what I can include in that "landscape"? My memory isn't what it used to be.
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by on Feb. 28, 2012 at 6:54 PM
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shsteele05
by Sandy-Owner on Feb. 28, 2012 at 8:19 PM

You could include things like, garbage cans, trash on the ground, the pavement/sidewalk, if there was graffiti on the walls of the buildings, was it cloudy, sunny, etc.

Just some ideas. I can't wait to take a creative writing class next fall and then a fiction writing class either along with the creative writing or next spring. Either way...I'm totally jealous!! Good luck!

Sandy

SusanArlene
by Writer on Mar. 2, 2012 at 9:17 PM
Thanks. Those things definitely help; however, I've decided to change my focus. To what, I don't know yet. I just learned that the example given above was already written...by my instructor in her latest book. I sure don't want to copy her! I am open to ideas. This is a very new and challenging writing craft for me. It's due Monday night and I have written zilch.
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SusanArlene
by Writer on Mar. 28, 2012 at 6:46 PM

After reading what other students in the class wrote, I am ashamed mine is so terrible.   We are not allowed to use dialogue or too much "scene."  We just have to describe landscape, and that doesn't necessarily mean "outdoor" landscape.  So far students have written landscape regarding hoarders, homes of drug addicts with babies, oceans, and old delapidated neighborhoods, which I think puts my essay to shame.  Please help!  Thank you.

Here is what I have written so far:


Landscape Exercise

            The guests arrive in droves to the Wasserlein mansion to bid farewell to the young master John Wasserlein, who is leaving for Africa to embark on a long hunting excursion.  As they park their cars in the circular driveway, they marvel at the four-tiered stone fountain in front of the  house, which gives them a sense of calm before entering the large twelve-bedroom, six-bath home.

            The two-story mansion sits on two-thirds of an acre.  The guests walk through its heavy double doors to the formal living room, with its black and white marble flooring and a grand fireplace.  The kitchen is just off the entry and features granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, which highlight the kitchen.  Large French doors from the kitchen open out to a pool, spa, and patio, complete with its own outdoor kitchen. 

            It is here where the party is happening.  Several guests are already splashing around in the pool, while others are floating like a dream in the comfort of pool floats with designs on them such as a surf wave, angelfish, or sunrise.  A floating drink caddy keeps beverages close at hand.  Other guests are lounging in the ginkgo colored chaises, sipping cocktail umbrella drinks.  A nine-foot tan umbrella adorned with tassels and trim offers protection from the scorching sun.  Between each chaise is a white wicker table with glass tabletop to keep refreshments within easy reach.

            At various places along the poolside, cast-aluminum towel holders offer monogrammed white towels, with the letter W embossed in gold lettering, to the guests. 


At one end of the pool is a custom-designed firepit with a bronze finish and a cast-aluminum base.  It has not yet been lit, but it will be once the sun goes down.  At the other end of the pool is an in-ground Jacuzzi under four pillars and a lattice canopy.  Ivy is already working its way up the pillars and lattice.

            A stainless steel stand holds an elegant stainless steel, double-walled beverage tub, with multiple bottles of beer chilling on ice.  A bottle opener hangs on the side for easy access. 

            On top of a Mosaic table sit various platters of food:  cocktail shrimp with lemon pepper, garlic dipping sauce, fruit tray complete with fresh grapes, strawberries, raspberries, apple and pear slices, pineapple, mango, and papaya.  There is also a veggie tray with celery, carrots, black and green olives, broccoli and cauliflower.  In the center of the veggie tray is an avocado dip.  There are also various types of cheeses and crackers.  For the meat lovers in the group, there are sweet and sour meatballs skewered with toothpicks that have been slow-cooked in a marinade of chili sauce and grape jelly, as well as hot and mild chicken wings with a honey-mustard dipping sauce.   

            A shatterproof pitcher of ice water sits on the table with lemon, lime, and mint floating around to give the water flavor. 

            Beyond the pool, the plush green lawn houses solar pathway lights that highlight the landscaping.  Mrs. Wasserlein, John's mother, has a fascination for frogs, so along the pathway from the pool to the house, there are three aluminum frogs, each one doing something different.  One frog is enjoying a glass of wine; another frog is reading; and the third frog is texting.  Guests ooh and aah over the little darlings.  Emerald green arborvitaes border the lawn for privacy.  In one corner of the lawn is a rock garden that Mrs. Wasserlein has planted years ago to attract birds and butterflies.  It grows tulips, irises, pansies, morning glories, hydrangeas, daisies, purple Jacob's ladder, and a peony bush.  A pewter birdbath off to the right creates a water haven for bluebirds, robins, and finches.  Hanging from one of the large oak trees is a hummingbird feeder, but the crowd has chased them away today.  They will be back, though.  They always come back.  A large piece of driftwood, brought to her by a young John from the coast of Australia, is used as the focal point. 

            John emerges from the balcony, looking down at his guests enjoying themselves at his father's expense.  His gaze roams the crowd until he sees her.  She looks alluring in her red and yellow sundress and white wide-brimmed hat.  She looks up at him and their eyes meet. All other eyes are on him, too, watching his every move.  There will be no more mistakes here.  He lifts his wine glass in the air and gives a robust speech, thanking them for their generosity.  When he is finished, the guests lift their glasses and salute him. 

SusanArlene
by Writer on Mar. 28, 2012 at 6:53 PM

Forgot to add that I have purposely delayed getting up in front of the class to have my essay "exposed" on the ELMO screen for the last two weeks.  There are 18 students in the class, and she has about four at a time do their essays.  I can no longer delay.  I must read mine on Monday night. 

SusanArlene
by Writer on Apr. 3, 2012 at 1:29 AM

Well, we workshopped the piece tonight, and my instructor did like it, somewhat.  What she didn't like was the fact that if these are rich people, they should be eating things like caviar and othe "rich people" foods.  Makes sense.  And since he is going on a hunting excursion to Africa, I should have included exotic dishes such as wildebeest burgers or something along those lines.  Will I develop this piece further?  No.  It was merely an exercise, but I did learn something from it.  We all learn from our mistakes, right? 

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