The Clean House - Short Story Challenge from Ann Carr
An outstanding writer by the name of Ann Carr wrote an informative article on the proper way of editing replete with examples and instruction. Ann instructed that writers should take ordinary dull writing to a new level bursting with descriptive flavor and color vividly involving the reader in the tone of the story.
After all her practical advice found at How to Edit to Sustain a Good Standard of Writing; an Exercise in Precision and Paring, With a Challenge!, Ann issued the challenge to try out the new things we have learned using this intro sample:
‘Jemma walked up to the door of the house and rang the bell. There was no answer. She went round the back. In the back garden was a figure……..’
Following is my attempt. I hope you enjoy.
Shuffling the asphalt walkway, Jemma approaches the door apprehensive as is her nature. To knock or use the buzzer. The choice created a little anxiety for her. What a hard decision to make, she shudders mentally. It was hard enough to convince herself to go outside but now, choices!
Do it, she screams internally as her hand lurches toward the buzzer, the sound giving her a fright! Moments pass as she calms herself from the sudden action of choosing. Nothing. So, what does nothing mean after pressing the buzzer she worries. Matching the numbers on the house with her memory, Jemma forces another attempt at the buzzer. No jerky awkward movements this time around that her attention studies why no one has responded to her door call.
An explosion of scenarios rocks through Jemma's skull as she rounds the corner of the house—heart thudding, breath bated—to see the figure in the garden in broad daylight.
Bravery replaces the halting demeanor as Jemma drops determined footfalls to the rear of the brick house to discover why the object of her destination does not respond. Ahead of time, Jemma called to make sure that someone would be there. Knowing how apprehensive and anxious Jemma is, Howard knows to be at the ready to answer the door!
An explosion of scenarios rocks through Jemma's skull as she rounds the corner of the house—heart thudding, breath bated—to see the figure in the garden in broad daylight. Terror ripples through her body buckling her knees almost to failure. Standing directly ahead with dead eyes peering into hers is her worst fear in the flesh. Prescription drugs can not stop this attack from occurring as her body frosts in fear followed by the pain in her extremities. Shrieks of terror flood the garden as Jemma steps forward toward the horror in a trans of uncontrollable self-preservation. Jemma attacks. Victimization will not claim her as she spirals in tearful destructive tackling dives toward this demon.
On the ground shredding the clothing of this dead-eyed demon, she hears the ring of Howard calling for her calm.
“Oh my gosh, Jemma. I was on the toilet. Forgive me, please. Let me help you, dear.” Pushing the object of Jemma’s fear away, Howard helps his hapless sister towards his home hoping it a haven from the frenzy of her troubled mind.
“Doorbell… ranged it… Nobody came,” Jemma whines wiping heavily winced eyes from weeping.
“Gosh, Jemma,” Howard sympathizes. “Coming here is not supposed to be traumatic. Therapy has helped with your anxiety attacks. Love, I planned to remove that thing before you came knowing about your fear of scarecrows." Hugging her tightly Howard walks Jemma to the rear door to rest ruefully on the rosewood rocking chair—embarrassment etched on her face.
Down goes the scarecrow and into the shed before Howard hurries in his house to visit with Jemma, who sits slowly swaying in the seat of the rosewood rocking chair chittering about the dead-eyed demon so many decorate their farms or gardens to drive away the pilfering fowl.
“Sis,” Howard solicits Jemma’s attention. “Dosages for that new med is too intense. Let us talk about making a change.”
“Man, I did not have any meds today other than a brandy, a little snort of cocaine, followed by a Monster. Please let me sleep it off, and I will be fine. Relapsed a little bit when my friend came to visit which is why I wanted to come over so I could get away to somewhere clean.”
Pensively, Howard purses his lips in consternation yet great relief that instead of going on a full bender, Jemma made her way to him. Addiction is no laughing matter.
Gleefully as always, I took Ann's challenge which is a great writing exercise. Most challenging was using a different word for each sentence. Taking that challenge changed my writing style and voice. Read Ann's article listed at the beginning of this one. Try the Challenge. Good times.
© 2018 Rodric Anthony