Writing Forums

Writing Forums is a privately-owned, community managed writing environment. We provide an unlimited opportunity for writers and poets of all abilities, to share their work and communicate with other writers and creative artists. We offer an experience that is safe, welcoming and friendly, regardless of your level of participation, knowledge or skill. There are several opportunities for writers to exchange tips, engage in discussions about techniques, and grow in your craft. You can also participate in forum competitions that are exciting and helpful in building your skill level. There's so much more for you to explore!

Proposed new challenge: The Paragraph Prompt (1 Viewer)

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
A man was walking down the old market road, unhurried in the heat of mid-afternoon. The dust clinging to the legs of his overalls merged visually with the road in the shimmering heat so he appeared a natural phenomenon, some unstoppable part of the landscape moving down the dry, deserted highway.
 

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
What I've taken from this particular paragraph is the power of themes and tone. I see paragraphs as self contained 'events', kind of mini stories within the whole story. If you can legitimately run with a theme throughout the paragraph, it brings the whole paragraph together. It's also worth noting that (in my opinion) if you're going to do that, you need to have a natural progression to the development of the theme. A start a middle and an end, so to speak. To summarise what I've learned so far:

Distant camera: the mountains swept from east to west beneath the glower of a coming storm
Mid range camera: Within a valley, beneath the omen, sat a cowering village
Zoomed camera: A villager stared up at the sky, flecks of grey mirrored in azure eyes
Internal camera: She wondered if today would be her last.

You get a more dynamic scene shifting between Distant camera and Zoomed camera and overuse of Mid Range camera can bog the piece down too much if you're not careful (my particular foible). There is no reason the Zoomed camera can't be used in a similar way to the Mid Range camera. And be sure to use that Internal camera more (another one of my little foibles). So much of a foible that if it hadn't been for Foxee reminding me, I would have likely forgotten there is one!!!

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It's often useful to have a theme for a paragraph. Not to be overused of course. If you're going to have a theme for your paragraph then treat the development of that theme as you would the development of a theme in the whole story. The hint image > the tranformative image > the conclusion. It doesn't have to be an image. It can be many things but since I used imagery I've run with that as the template. I had a theme in mind for my paragraph but 'accidentally' got it in the right order. That's something I'll be working on and keeping an out for in the future.

[FONT=&Verdana]Beneath a smothering mid-afternoon, a figure walked, with the gate of the unhurried. Dust gathered on the legs of his overalls and from a distance 1/ it seemed the plains swallowed him, the 2/ once-man transformed into nothing more than a shimmering cactus in the Oklahoma dirt, 3/ trying to tear himself free, as forlorn as the stretch of highway ahead.

[/FONT]
[FONT=&Verdana]1: The hint image (set up)
2: The transformative image
3: The conclusion

Taking what I've observed, I might have changed cactus in line with something trying to tear itself free. Crow might work there.

I love this thread.[/FONT]
 
Last edited:

VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
The searing rays of a late dawn stretched through the peaks into the Eldmore Valley like stabbing golden fingers ripping away the river’s sheltering morning mist, exposing every cottage to prying eyes. His protecting veil of darkness shorn away, a lonely rooster called a warning to the half-awakened town. Pigs, terrified, huddled in the corners of their pens as the sizzles and pops of their former brethren reached their ears. Their eyes dropped in shame at the realization they, too, enjoyed the smell. The grounds of extra-strong coffee lay in sodden masses at the bottom of pots, the farmers of Darrowdale having relied on the brew to keep them awake in the predawn coolness. Now they hastened into the shade and into the cottages, the morning work done, laundry already hung and snapping in a breeze forced through mountain passes with the rapid onset of heat. Another day ... when would it end?
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
The searing rays of a late dawn stretched through the peaks into the Eldmore Valley like stabbing golden fingers ripping away the river’s sheltering morning mist, exposing every cottage to prying eyes. His protecting veil of darkness shorn away, a lonely rooster called a warning to the half-awakened town. Pigs, terrified, huddled in the corners of their pens as the sizzles and pops of their former brethren reached their ears. Their eyes dropped in shame at the realization they, too, enjoyed the smell. The grounds of extra-strong coffee lay in sodden masses at the bottom of pots, the farmers of Darrowdale having relied on the brew to keep them awake in the predawn coolness. Now they hastened into the shade and into the cottages, the morning work done, laundry already hung and snapping in a breeze forced through mountain passes with the rapid onset of heat. Another day ... when would it end?
Terror in Darrowdale! It's a race against time and then THE END!

I can believe an asteroid is on its way to Darrowdale.
 

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
Terror in Darrowdale! It's a race against time and then THE END!

I can believe an asteroid is on its way to Darrowdale.

If everyone is in agreement, I think you should be the next contributor! You can just take a paragraph from one of your already written pieces like JBF did. And would advice adding a nice bold, enlarged and colourful 'NEW PROMPT' just before it. Otherwise, as vranger has shown, as the thread gets longer, people will start overlooking new prompts!!!! :)

I love your interpretation of my paragraph though, vranger!
 

VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
If everyone is in agreement, I think you should be the next contributor! You can just take a paragraph from one of your already written pieces like JBF did. And would advice adding a nice bold, enlarged and colourful 'NEW PROMPT' just before it. Otherwise, as vranger has shown, as the thread gets longer, people will start overlooking new prompts!!!! :)

I love your interpretation of my paragraph though, vranger!

There were so many prettily written descriptions of bucolic life I felt I had nothing too add in that vein. :)

I wrote it a bit back and then our entire internet provider went down last evening and all night! Then when things came back up this morning, the computer didn't recognize my keyboard, and everything was quite slow to operate. Somehow, no expressions of the profane breathed from my lips, but they did remain tight until I'd sorted out the mysteries.
 
Last edited:

VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
Not exactly what I had in mind, but I'll roll with it. Stolen from the opening of a back-burner project.

Under the hot sun of midafternoon came a figure down the old market road, moving with the easy gait of the unhurried. Dust colored the legs of his overalls and from a distance, under the shimmering heat, gave the effect not of a man walking but of some man-shaped part of the earth pushed up through the Oklahoma dirt on a dry and forlorn stretch of country highway.

That's an evocative and creative image. :)
 

JBF

Staff member
Global Moderator
A man was walking down the old market road, unhurried in the heat of mid-afternoon. The dust clinging to the legs of his overalls merged visually with the road in the shimmering heat so he appeared a natural phenomenon, some unstoppable part of the landscape moving down the dry, deserted highway.

I especially like this part, Olly. The 'unstoppable' idea is a great aspect to pull out of the paragraph.

Nailed it.

Fun detail:

This except has its roots in a story that goes all the way back to high school. For my final year I took AP English to knock out a college credit, and the last major grade (weighted for two standard tests) was a project of our own engineering based on one of the pieces of historical literature we'd covered throughout the year.

I moved my pick to the 1920s and wrote something like a hundred pages. A-grade stuff at the time, nigh unreadable in hindsight.

This revisit comes a decade and a half later and looks to bring improvements to character, setting, and plot that proved elusive in the original. So congrats for picking up on the sense of latent menace and vaguely inhuman character - who is, incidentally, on his way to wreak mayhem in the hinterlands of Nowhere, Oklahoma, circa 1924.

Our first character - whom you've met in passing - is less a bad guy than a minor force of nature, and by the time the dust settles you'll know him as much for the swath he cuts as for the quality of the men who face him.

Our antagonist goes by the name Grenville Caine.

....you might know him better as Grendel.
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
Okay, apparently it's my turn to toss a paragraph out there.

New Prompt

That glowing curtain of molten lava shot twenty feet into the air at least, a hot blaze of color against the damp forest darkness up on the brow of the mountain. Thirty feet long the seam was only the width of a man's hand at the widest part. Sound was a pressure of expectation more than fact, a kind of rushing noise of escaping lava and the crackling hiss of red-gold embers burning holes in the leaves. All the wildlife in the area cleared out for miles around, the thing just didn't smell right.
 

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
A molten curtain of lava burned hot against the darkened forest high on the mountain edge. The seam hissed and crackled with the pressure of expectation, spitting embers that seared through delicate leaves, gripped the scorched hundred-year trunks and slid them downhill in a procession of fire. An acrid smell stung the broiling air, creatures flew and ran and scooted and stampeded ... their home ablaze and licked clean.
 
Last edited:

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
Looking back I might take out the word 'visually', it's pretty well implied. The main thing that struck me was that I wanted to go straight to the main game, the man. Who first, then where, when, and how.
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
...gripped the scorched hundred-year trunks and slid them downhill in a procession of fire. An acrid smell stung the broiling air, creatures flew and ran and scooted and stampeded ... their home ablaze and licked clean.
Okay...but I didn't set the forest on fire. This was originally a kind of weird phenomenon of a very thin fissure (no wider than a man's hand) and the woods were wet (though I guess that didn't make it into this particular paragraph).

Looking back I might take out the word 'visually', it's pretty well implied. The main thing that struck me was that I wanted to go straight to the main game, the man. Who first, then where, when, and how.
True about 'visually'. I had a similar thought process regarding what order should I put the elements in.
 

SueC

Staff member
Senior Mentor
Okay, apparently it's my turn to toss a paragraph out there.

New Prompt

That glowing curtain of molten lava shot twenty feet into the air at least, a hot blaze of color against the damp forest darkness up on the brow of the mountain. Thirty feet long the seam was only the width of a man's hand at the widest part. Sound was a pressure of expectation more than fact, a kind of rushing noise of escaping lava and the crackling hiss of red-gold embers burning holes in the leaves. All the wildlife in the area cleared out for miles around, the thing just didn't smell right.

I thought it would have more of a punch, starting with the ending. The smell and the animal behavior might be noticed before the actual visuals of the lava. You are incorporating senses; sight, hearing, smell. You want descriptions that matter to the senses. Good job.

Something didn’t smell right; the area wildlife was clearing out for miles around. Leaves on nearby trees began with singe holes before combusting into nothing. That glowing curtain of molten lava shot twenty feet into the air, a hot blaze of color against the dark forest dampness on the brow of the mountain. The sound came across as a rushing noise of escaping lava and a crackling hiss, from a seam the width of a man’s hand at the widest part.
 

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
Okay...but I didn't set the forest on fire. This was originally a kind of weird phenomenon of a very thin fissure (no wider than a man's hand) and the woods were wet (though I guess that didn't make it into this particular paragraph).


True about 'visually'. I had a similar thought process regarding what order should I put the elements in.

I only adjusted it a little ... :)

I was thinking of that theme progression thought I had earlier.
 

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
We might know what we originally intended but isn't it interesting how flexible a paragraph becomes, lending itself to any one of a thousand stories when its frame is gone?

Absolutely. Paragraphs, as I've mentioned before, are like little stories of their own and you begin to see that when you separate them from the body of work and examine them in isolation. I might have mentioned it before: I LOVE paragraphs. :)
 
Top