Monday, February 21, 2011

A Light Bulb Moment

A Light Bulb Moment
by Missy Tippens

I was recently critiquing a manuscript for my critique partner, Lindi Peterson, and came across a passage of description that really jumped out at me. And I realized how boring my recent writing had been. For example, if I was writing a scene about a character going out on her deck or patio, I might say:

I walked out and breathed in the fresh air, taking in all the green around me. Birds chirped as I relaxed on the patio furniture. I closed my eyes and wished I could bottle this feeling. Total peace.

Okay, so that’s not horrible. I wrote it off the top of my head, trying to pretend as if I’m plowing through the first draft of my manuscript.

Let me show you the excerpt of Lindi’s manuscript that I was critiquing…

Lindi’s excerpt from Her Crazy Love (work in progress, not sold yet):

The early September evening is still warm. The green leaves on the trees hang in the stillness of the air. Tall pines shoot up toward the sky, their skinny trunks, straight as rulers, hiding their strength. I cross my arms, fully aware of the body language I’m exhibiting. My chin points slightly upward.

Wasn’t that so much better? I especially loved the way she described the pine trees.

Then I had a light bulb moment. You, too, can write this. Of course, I knew that already, so go ahead and call it a blonde moment if you wish. :) Or a "duh" moment. But description is something I'm really working to improve this year. So I was reminded if I don't get it on the first draft, I can get it on the second draft. (And yes, Lindi assured me she wrote this on subsequent drafts while layering.)

So let’s play. Here’s my original paragraph again:

I walked out and breathed in the fresh air, taking in all the green around me. Birds chirped as I relaxed on the patio furniture. I closed my eyes and wished I could bottle this feeling. Total peace.

Okay, so it’s basically a travel log of character motions. She walked. She breathed. She noticed the colors. She heard birds. She closed her eyes and felt peaceful.

BORING. Oh, my. But I'm so guilty of this travel log writing!

Okay, fine. I’ll live with that for a first draft. But now I want to fill it in as I make several more passes through the passage. Making it richer.

I walked out into the hot, steamy evening, hoping for a relief from the heat. And then sure enough, a slight breeze blew the hair off my neck and brought with it a breath of fresh air.

Breath of fresh air?? Cliché alert!! Let’s try harder than that. And let’s make it a little more personal and detailed while we’re at it…

I walked out into the hot, steamy evening, hoping for relief from the stifling heat. And then, just as the air-conditioned room on the other side of the door began to call my name, a slight breeze blew the hair off my neck and brought with it a hint of fall.  Cool, fresh air we hadn’t felt since May. Not since the last time I’d seen my mother.

Ooh, where did that come from? Okay, so I added a little conflict there at the end. That was fun. Let’s continue…

I walked out into the hot, steamy evening, hoping for relief from the stifling heat. And then, just as the air-conditioned room on the other side of the door began to call my name, a slight breeze blew the hair off my neck and brought with it a hint of fall. Cool, fresh air we hadn’t felt since May. Not since the last time I’d seen my mother.

I took in the fading, late-summer green of the trees in Mom’s back yard. Flowers that had been neglected since she left struggled against weeds that tried to choke them out. Tears nearly choked me as I retreated into a chair and prayed for peace.

Peace that wouldn’t come.

Now, that’s better.  But I’d still like to tweak it a bit. I think I could have chosen some better, stronger words. Plus, I realized it made no sense that she’s stepping out of the air-conditioned house and into the summer heat to get relief. :) I also wanted to show something more about the character and evoke more emotion.

I stalked out into the hot, steamy evening, hoping for relief from the stifling heat of the overcrowded kitchen. And then, as I was about to escape through the sliding glass door into the air-conditioned bedroom that offered respite from my crazy family, a slight breeze blew the hair off my neck and brought with it a hint of fall. Cool, fresh air we hadn’t felt since May. Not since the last time I’d seen my mother.

The fading, late-summer green branches of the pecan trees swayed in the breeze as if reaching out for me, like a mother’s arms. Flowers that had been neglected since Mom left struggled against weeds that tried to choke them out. Tears nearly choked me as I retreated into a chair and prayed for peace.

Peace that wouldn’t come.

Of course, I added many words. So you may want to plan to come in on the low side of your word count on your first draft because you’ll be adding words on subsequent drafts. So, here’s a recap of a few ways to improve your description:

1.  Use the senses.
2.  Make it personal and detailed.
3.  Add conflict.
4.  Strong word choices.
5.  Show characterization (what would my character notice?) and emotion (how would she feel about it?).

And now I have a challenge for you! I know it’ll be tough to choose, but I’ll pick one winner for a $10 online gift certificate of your choice (Starbucks, Amazon, etc.). All you have to do is write your own description (100 WORD LIMIT!!) of a scene I’ll give you. I know 100 words is nearly impossible. But make those words count!

Describe your character walking into a church for the first time. (Can be first time ever or first time in this particular church.) Remember, NO MORE THAN 100 WORDS! And while you’re thinking it over, enjoy some Timothy’s Parisian Nights coffee with my new sugar-free hazelnut creamer. And since I’m eating low carb, I’ve got made-to-order omelets for you this morning. Just name your fillings!

Oh, and NEWS FLASH!! I just heard from a reader that she got my newest Love Inspired, A Family for Faith, in her book club order!! So my book has been birthed and it now out in the world! If you’re not in the book club (or don’t take all the books), you can pre-order it by clicking:

Here’s a blurb:

When Faith Hagin sees widower cop Gabe Reynolds every day in her coffee shop, she can't help but feel for the struggling single dad. She's raised a teenager of her own—and sadly, knows what not to do. But thanks to his matchmaking preteen daughter, Chelsea, the whole town's praying for Gabe to find a wife! Even though Faith thinks she's content being just friends, spending time with him and Chelsea starts to feel like a fresh start at having a family. And their love may be the answer to everyone's prayers.


KC Frantzen said...

Ha! Missy! You made me LAUGH!
Thanks for a look inside your fertile mind... wait... cliche'...
Uhm... Your pregnant mind... no good either...
well - How about BUSY mind?!
At this late in the evening, it'll have to do.
Will try to come back in the AM and take a shot at today's exercise.

Congrats on your book being out! HOW FUN!!! Know book clubs everywhere are feeling the excitement with us too. :)

Have a great day!

Helen Gray said...

I've brought the coffe.

I need to think about the description.


Camy Tang said...

Great post, Missy! And congrats on your book being released this week in the book club!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Missy Tippens, what a great lesson in step-by-step layering! This is perfect instruction and inspiration for any level of writer, the play by play way you worked that scene, that tiny bit of prose into something quite poetic.

I loved watching the transformation.

I brought breakfast, something wonderful for Monday. Because it IS Monday. Now lots of you guys have off today, so relax in your jammies, help yourself to French toast, Belgian waffles or Fluffy Made-to-order pancakes. (Dr. Atkins is cringing in his grave right now) Your choice of strawberry, apple or triple berry topping.

Fresh whipped cream.

Scrambled eggs.

Grilled ham with pineapple.

Enjoy this day! And those of you whose kids are off from school...

Why do kids need a winter break??? Isn't this the silliest week off known to man?

Grabbing coffee, Helen, and loving it even if I CAN'T use Dumb Ol' Cat as a name in a book.

Sigh... ;)

Kav said...

I just LOVE these kinds of posts. It really helps this aspiring writer to watch a scene being built this way. Thanks so much for sharing! But no fair I think your final is more then 100 words. LOL Here's my attempt, and it ends a bit abruptly at word 100.

The smell of candles evoked memories better left in the past. Coming here was a mistake. She didn’t belong in church but James had already seen her. He stood up, his expectant gaze alight with pleasure and she knew there was no turning back.

She teetered forward on heels too high, her usually confident stride constrained by a case of nerves that left her knees shaking. The temptation to run took hold but the large oak cross hanging behind the pulpit held her fast. A fragmented bit of scripture hurdled into her mind. “Come unto me…I will give you rest.”

And Missy -- I've checked eharlequin twice this weekend and your book doesn't come up in any kind of search. :-(

Sandra Leesmith said...

Great post Missy and what a super example of layering. I definitely need to do more of this.

I think I'll stick to your made to order omelets and have mine with mushrooms, peppers, onions, artichoke hearts and spinach. yum.

I look forward to reading the posts.

Missy Tippens said...

LOL, KC! Yes, you set off my cliche alarm, but that's okay. :) I like to think I have a fertile mind. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Helen, thanks so much for greeting everyone with coffee this morning! I hope you'll get to come by again and give the paragraph a go.

Missy Tippens said...

Thanks, Camy! The friend that let me know said she gets all 6 books each month.

Missy Tippens said...

Ruthy, girl, I'm trying to be good on this diet, and you bring FRENCH TOAST???? My favorite! You meanie you!!! But I guess it is only fair to our friends to provide more than eggs. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Kav, I loved your description! I can just smell those candles. Can just see her struggling in those heels. And I'm already imagining what her situation is. I'm hooked! Nice job.

Pepper said...

Beautiful words, great company, and yummy food.
WOW, I've come to the RIGHT place!!

MIssy, thanks for the reminder.
I'm going to try out my early morning creativity for your challenge:

The music pressed through the massive oak doors, urging her forward. She steadied her trembling fingers against the cool wood, snow swirling around her like angry faeries. Warmth waited inside – for her body and her soul.
Would God take her back after so long?
She took a deep breath and pushed the door open only far enough to slip inside. With one last glimpse into the frosted night, her other life, she closed the door. The full chorus of organ and voices reverberated through her, with a strangely familiar melody. O Come, Let Us Adore Him. She closed her eyes as the music and message etched out the dark places of her heart. She was still welcome.
Warm tears spilled from beneath her closed eyes and David’s words replayed in her mind. You are never too far from the grace of God.

Missy Tippens said...

Hey, Ruthy, was there already a break planned, or are they out for snow? I just saw on the weather that you're getting some.

Missy Tippens said...

Good morning, Sandra! I've got your omelette cooking now. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Great job, Pepper! I can feel the cold and the contrasting warmth. And can feel her emotion over coming back to God. Well done!!

Lorna said...

Great post, Missy, and congrats on the arrival of your new "baby" into reader's hands. No scene from me today as I need to go apply what you said to my WIP. :)

Pepper said...

Great clip, Kav.
I can see her teetering!
Love it

Andrea Strong said...


This is a great post. I like that you remind me that I don't have to get it perfect on the first try. But don't leave it. Fix it later, make it right.


Wow! Warm tears nearly spilled from my eyes! That was great.

I'll hopefully I'll be back later with a paragraph of my own.

CarolM~ If you're out there...

I'm going! I'm going! I know the windows won't wash themselves.

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, Missy, this was SOOO much fun!!! Like Kav, I absolutely LOVE these kind of posts that take you layer after layer in the process. Layering like this is one of my favorite things to do and a real thrill when you end up with a paragraph so deep and well developed like yours above. Just that paragraph alone draws me in to your story like crazy, so GREAT JOB! Can't wait to read the final book. :)


Joanne Sher said...

Such a fabulous, FABULOUS post. I may be back with my 100 words. Thanks SO much, Missy!

Missy Tippens said...

Thanks, Lorna! I hope you get lots done on your wip!

Missy Tippens said...

Andrea, I've found that my first drafts are mostly dialogue. And I seem to have to get that down on "paper" quickly as the scene plays out in my head. So then I have to go back later and add in all the setting, etc.

So no, first drafts are not for perfection! And I'm thankful. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Thanks, Julie! But you won't ever read this in a book. It was totally for fun for the post. Made it up and fixed it as I went. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Joanne, I hope you will come back and play! :)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Missy, have I mentioned how much I love the real people look of your cover? I'm totally over the top with it, I can picture myself stopping in for coffee, like "Luke's" place on Gilmore Girls, quick, homey and welcoming.

And the fact that he's too cute for words... Sigh...


They did a great job recreating the feeling of the book which I can't wait to read! I wouldn't mind a few more hours in the day. I'm just sayin'...

Janet Dean said...

Missy, great step-by-step example of layering our setting! Thanks for the reminder to add emotion and characterization. Love revisions!

Wahoo on the release of A Family for Faith! Love your cover! Can't wait to read it!!


Vince said...

Hi Missy:

I just had a light bulb moment, too. I really want you to write a First Person POV novel.

(100 words)

* * *

I hated that church.

“You just have to see it,” the chief said. “It cost over 18 million dollars”.

I opened the door and stepped into a city. The reception area could hold a football field. Tucked away on my right was a chapel bigger than most city churches. Five hundred seats for small services. I stretched my neck looking up and wondered if my police special could hit the ceiling.

As one of the assistant pastors greeted me I said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

road_to_avonlea_17 said...

This is a wonderful post as description has always been my weakness in writing. I always appreciate reading the experiences and encouragement shared here.

Here's my attempt at the 100 word church scene:

Anwar pushed open the heavy oak door, the sunlight behind him casting his long shadow up the center aisle. The movement stirred years of dust into a whirlwind as he entered the abandoned cathedral. Mold assaulted his nose. Stained glass windows rose high like great and wise warriors on either side of him, their colors a kaleidoscope on the floor as the sun outside played hide-and-seek with the onset of clouds. Anwar dropped to his knees, his leg grazing a long forgotten Bible. Oh God, give me strength.


Kirsten Arnold said...

Hi Missy,

I'm with Julie and Kav. I love these posts and the opportunity to get the creative juices flowing and then attack my current wip.

Below is my attempt at today's challenge.

The cool rustic log structure promised refuge from the scorching rays assaulting Beth. Like the arms of her savior pine doors stood open beckoning her. Welcoming her. Tuesday, no one was here. Her lips curved. No, One was here. Unseen hands carried Beth forward. Bright light flooded the dominate window framing snow capped Tetons their fingers caressing Heaven. The cross at its center cast to shadow over the powerful range. Every sense surged and weakened her resolve to stand in her Creator's presence. She caved to her knees in praise for what He’d done and sorrow for the storm ahead.


Myra Johnson said...

Excellent tips, Missy! The most evocative description is tied to the characters and their emotions. I always try to think of how the POV character is experiencing the setting and how it affects or amplifies his/her mood.

And I agree--your new cover is absolutely charming! What an adorable couple!

Missy Tippens said...

Ruthy, I love how they got the feel of it! The only thing they added--and because I didn't even think to describe it!--was the flooring. I love it! I've added it in to the next book. :) See, a lesson to me to work on my description details!!

Missy Tippens said...

Janet!!! Thank YOU for reminding me about adding in the characterization and emotion!!! That was your suggestion. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Vince, let me first say that I LOVE writing in first person (past tense). Maybe someday I'll give it a go again. I just did it in my example because that's what Lindi writes (present tense, though). :)

Loved your paragraphs! I can feel his anger and loathing. Makes me wonder why. I can envision that gigantic church, too. Nice description!

Missy Tippens said...

Kav, I also meant to say that my book is an April release. It should be up on e-harlequin in March. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Whitney, wow! I loved your description!! The dust, the light, the shadows, the description of the stained glass (wise warriors) all painted such a nice picture. Nice strong words, too, like assaulted. Great work!

Missy Tippens said...

Nice, Kirsten! I especially like how you have the open doors beckoning like the arms of her Savior. And the last line leaves me wondering what storm lies ahead. Good work! Thanks for taking part. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Myra, that's a good point. Description for description's sake is wasting an opportunity!

MaryC said...

Okay, Missy. I'm procrastinating too much playing with your prompt so here's what I've got.

Sarah stepped hesitantly into the quiet space.
She lifted her face – because she’d heard that was what you were supposed to do in church, lift your face to God.
But what if you’re not sure God is really here – not for you at least. What good does lifting your face do then?
She waited, anchored by the deep silence when she would have abandoned hope.
Time passed; slowly the darkness eased.
Light coursed through her, brilliant and warm, and something fluttered in her chest.
Was this God promising he was always here – even for sinners like her?

100 words on the dot.

Have at me. ;)

Debby Giusti said...

Thanks for reminding me to go deeper with description! Excellent!

Also...I LOVE the various 100 words scenes. Way to go, Seekerville! Everyone is doing such a great job today. Such lovely descriptions. Can't you "hear" everyone's unique voice?

I'll be back later to read more!

Debby Giusti said...

BTW, Whitney's scene brought back a memory of a church hubby and I visited in France. No one was around. The place was OLD! Think, maybe, the 18th Century. And dusty. And dark. As we quietly stepped into the church, we heard the scurry of little feet...little mice feet...hundreds of them, coming from the open starway that led to the basement.

We didn't stay long. :)

Missy Tippens said...

MaryC, I love it! I can feel her pain, how unworthy she feels. I especially liked when you said she was anchored in the deep silence. I can imagine that pull. And I can also relate to that warming, God touching her. Nice work!

Missy Tippens said...

And now, I'm off to write another scene... Will check in later!

gina said...

Missy, I loved to read how your scene evolved from basic to ba-boom! Nice.

Sometimes we get so focused on the "write tight" rule that we forget to add the layers that bring our writing to life.

CarolM said...

@Andrea - /stern stare/ Okay - I know your windows are DONE! You go girl!

I can't wait for this book either. It may jump in my cart at Walmart when I walk by.

I'll try my hand at the church deal in a bit. I'm supposed to be cleaning and folding laundry but my back is telling me to sit for a few. Then back to it :p.

Christine said...

Thank you for this challenge. Here's my attempt:

The rapid gunfire of her heels on the stone steps reverberated around her. Her fingers grasped the cold iron handle. Leaning back to hoist the timber door open, a blast of organ music overwhelmed the noise of passing traffic. As the centuries-old door shut out the sunlight, she blinked to focus in the darkened vestibule. Wrinkling her nose against the onslaught of roses, she crossed the creaking boards on tiptoe. Slipping into the last pew, blood pounded in her ears. Gorgeous and composed, he stood at the front of the church. Gone. Forever. She wouldn’t cry. Not now anyway.

CarolM said...

Okay - here we go. See notes at the end ;). Cuz we know I can't post JUST the 100 word snippet =D.


Doors loomed large in front of him. Inside, people moved around. Not many, but a few. More were coming. Many more. He arrived early to ensure a seat. The florescent orange walls smelled of fresh paint, redecorated for this day. A stage directly ahead held an ornate chair.

A throne.

It wouldn't be called that, but it was. The president of Ethiopia was visiting. It could be nothing less. And there, His Excellency would take his last breath.

John Smith, a man of non-descript name, stature and visage had returned to church for one reason only.

To assassinate the president.


The president of Ethopia, His Excellency Girma Wolde-Giorgis visited our church almost 4 years ago now. He credits our pastor as one of the influencial men in his life [I want to say Pastor led him to Christ - or re-led? - but don't hold me to that]. Our church does/supports quite a bit of work in the country and that was the main reason he came to town, though it happened to coincide with something else I've forgotten. It was... quite interesting for many reasons. I wish I remembered more of it :/.

I know nothing of Ethopian politics though I've read he's quite popular among the people. I do know I trust my pastor implicitly as a judge of character.

I also know of no plot, now or at any other time, to assassinate him.


Leann Holland said...

Thank you for the encouragement. I am finding that my attempts at a novel are very heavy to the dialogue. Your article and comments give me hope. Love the contest.
My 100 words:

Shivers raced down his spine he felt knew this church like he'd been here before. Dustan knew it couldn't be true he had never stopped in Elizabethton.

Peace! Overwhelming peace rippled through him. The warm oak walls and ceiling beams radiated security and stability. The white textured ceiling beamed purity, trust, and love. Pulling the black vinyl kneeler down in the last pew, Dustan sank to his knees. Thanking God for this respite from the turmoil lurking outside the heavy simple wooden doors of this sanctuary.

He wasn't alone sitting on the red velvety pew in the front was Cally.

CatMom said...

LOVED this post, Missy!! It's a keeper and one I'm sure I'll refer back to. ~ I'm only on here for a few minutes, so I'm not joining in the activity *sigh* - absolutely MUST finish/submit my Genesis entry TODAY!!! ;)
Hugs, Patti Jo

Mary Connealy said...

Missy, a bullet whizzing by would definitely stir things up.

Think about it.

Renee Ann said...

Hi, Missy. After I read your challenge, I put my fingers to the keys and came up with this. It's maybe not exactly what you're looking for, but it's the mood I'm in today . . .

The church had to be two hundred years old, maybe three. Chloe watched entranced as the early morning light bronzed its tall stone walls and illumined the stained glass windows. She padded up deep steps to double doors, wrapped her fingers around an iron handle, and pushed. Nothing. She changed her grip and tried again. No go. She shook back her hair, blew out a breath, and shoved. The heavy door swung wide, pulling her across the threshold and into someone warm and solid. A deep voice with a thread of laughter in it said, “Uh, care for a bulletin?”

I enjoyed your post and reading through all the entries. Blessings!

reneeasmith61 [at] yahoo [dot] com

Missy Tippens said...

Hey, Gina! Yeah, my editor is almost always asking for more. And I'll realize I totally forgot to describe a person or a room.

Missy Tippens said...

Debby, I think you need to write that scene just to torment Connealy! :)

Missy Tippens said...

Nice job, Christine! Lots of good, strong words. And I'm dying to know why he's gone forever! Great hook, too. :) Thanks for taking part!

The Mulhearn Family said...

This is my first contest!

Tara opened the door to the old historic church, the burst of cold air felt refreshing as she stepped out of July’s blistering heat. She closed the big oak doors behind her, and walked down the familiar hallways. The doors to the sanctuary stood open, beckoning people to enter. Tara walked down the center aisle, brushing her hand against each pew she passed. It brought back painful memories from years ago, walking towards the alter and the man she thought she'd loved, her dress flowing behind her. Only to have her hopes dashed away by two little words, I can’t.

Missy Tippens said...

Wow, Carol! Scaaarrryy! Very cold, calculating person whom I'm assuming is the villain. LOL Nice how he only notices the things that pertain to the job at hand.

Also, nice job using something from your past and turning it into a scary suspenseful novel start! :)

Missy Tippens said...

Nice job, Leeann. I especially like the warm oak walls and ceiling beams radiating security and stability. I could really feel that! And now I'm wondering who Cally is. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Patti Jo, way to go on entering the Genesis!! So proud of you!

Anyone else working on that today?

Missy Tippens said...

Hey, Mary (Connealy, not to be confused with MaryC), I'll have you know I'll sick Debby's church mice on you if you try to stick bullets and dead bodies into my passages of prose!


Missy Tippens said...

Renee Ann, I loved it! Nice description plus humor. Loved the repeated shoves and then running into him. Nice way to toss a couple of people together. Liked his one liner, too. LOL

Missy Tippens said...

Mulhearn Family, nice evocative words! Blistering heat, especially. Also loved the image of the dress trailing down the aisle behind her. And the two little words. Thanks for entering your first contest! You did great! :)

Mary Connealy said...

Well, Debby's mice are horrifying.

Way worse than me shooting someone.

HI MULHEARN FAMILY!!!!! Thanks for coming over. Great scene.

Ausjenny said...

Ok im no writer so here is a short version.

I had finally found the church I was looking for and now I was going to be late. Walking into a strange church and not knowing a soul was hard enough without being late.

I take a deep breath and shake hands with the friendly welcomer accepting the walk through the door. The church is crowded, where will I sit without drawing attention to myself. I find a seat near the back and settle in and breathe a sigh of relief as I listen to the soft music and gaze at the beauty of the Church. I feel at peace.

Tina Radcliffe said...

oooh..oooh...ooh...sorry I'm so late. This looks like fun and I want to play too.

Matt took his time getting to the front of the enormous cathedral. The place was dimly lit with huge chandeliers.

He walked through the vestibule and inspected the sculptures, then ran his hand along the smooth, cool stone walls.

The place was like a tomb.

So this was where a man came to get married.

His mind flitted to his marriage. What symbolism. A quickie justice of the peace, and a ceremony which lasted about as long as the marriage. Once she found out he wasn’t a ticket to ride she was out on the next available paycheck.

Ausjenny said...

I was late too as I have had to write a 200 word statement about how a scholarship would help me study my chosen career path. It has to be in today along with the application (not easy to keep to 200 and not go over). But this has been fun reading responses.

Spare a thought for the people of Christchurch in New Zealand who have again be hit by a earthquake today and this time there are facilities.

Tori Lynn said...

Ohh, great entries, everyone, I can actually 'feel' them! Thank you for a WONDERFUL post, Missy!

Here's my attempt (it took forever to cut it down to 100 words).

My frantic eyes lock in horror on the one place Lance won’t look. I fist my hands against the icy shivers overtaking me.
“Never!” I want to scream.
God lurks behind those doors waiting to destroy all who aren’t worthy of Him. And I’m not. Not by a long shot. But my last, dying hope of escape lies within that church. Tasting bile, I bite back another desperate cry and duck inside, awaiting God’s judgment. It never comes. Quiet surrounds me. As I gaze in astonishment, a cross, three words emblazoned upon it, arrests my focus. JESUS FORGIVES ALL.

Helen Gray said...


Got my Genesis out over the weekend. Got my confirmation today.

AND I finished my WIP today. It's just a first draft, but it's COMPLETE.


Pepper said...

Oh Missy,
Mary's comment about a bullet whizzing by inspired a fun "Mary-scene".
Here's a try:

The stranger reached for his Colt, so Jake did the only thing that made sense. He tackled him and slammed him right through the church doors.

Both of them tumbled to the cold floor, right slap in the middle of the aisle. From the smell of the lousy rascal under Jake, he could have used a good dose of religion. Sweat and tobacco mixed with a potent whiff of whisky, but if Jake recalled his lessons right, God rarely used a fistfight or a Colt to get heathen’s into Heaven.

But it seemed to work with gettin’ them into church.

“What is the meaning of this?”

A bass voice boomed from the front of the church, like the voice of God. It seemed to sober the stranger right up. Sobered Jake right up too, and he hadn't even been drinkin'.

Preacher Ripley stomped down the aisle, Bible in one hand and revolver in the other. Nothin’ like staring into the face of an angry preacher with a six-shooter to cause a man to ponder eternity.

Jessica Alise said...

Awesome post; thank you! And yay contests! :) Here's mine, which I managed to cut to right at 100 words.


The warm air enveloped her like a favorite sweater, chasing out the biting winter cold. The heavy door swung shut with a thud. There was no turning back now.

Inhaling the smell of melting wax and pine, she smiled at the greeter. His voice was deep and friendly, and she accepted his offered arm, his sleeve scratchy against her palm. The thick carpeting swallowed their footsteps as they made their way to the wooden pews. Her dog settled beneath her, his fur brushing her legs as the first organ notes began.

She smiled. So this was what church felt like.


Thanks again!

CarolM said...

YAY HELEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Both for getting Genesis in and for finishing that rough draft!!!!

That's awesome!!!

[and on my list for this week... the Genesis thing - the rough draft was last week...]

Debby Giusti said...

More great scenes! Whoo-hoo! Lots of wonderful writers in Seekerville today.

Andrea Strong said...

Here's my 100 wds except it's only 98. I'll never come in under budget again, I'm afraid.

And it's no where near as good as some of the others. But my hero is "not on speaking terms with God" for since his wife and daughter died in childbirth 3 years before, so first time in church goes right along with that. And this is the first new thing I've written on my novel in...well, I'm ashamed to say how long. So, here it is:

Why had he let them talk him into this? Cal wondered, approaching the church. It was simpler than he was used to. A wooden cross mounted beneath the gable instead of the steeple on his church back home. His? Where did that come from? It hadn’t been his since Carla died.

She had never liked that church much, but entering the sanctuary, he knew she would have loved this one. Whitewashed walls, two rows of dark wood pews, and down the aisle, a path worn from the door to the altar. Oh yes. Carla would have loved that.

And Ruthy~

Gilmore Girls? Seriously? We must have been separated at birth. That is quite possibly my favorite show ever.

Missy Tippens said...

Jenny, I know that scary feeling of walking in a church without knowing a soul. So I can relate to your character! Thanks for jumping in!

Missy Tippens said...

Tina, I love it. Marriage is a tomb! :)

Missy Tippens said...

Jenny, good luck with the scholarship! And yes, we'll keep the earthquake victims in our prayers.

Missy Tippens said...

Nice job, Tori Lynn! I know it's hard to get it down to 100 words. And not fair that mine was more! ;)

I can feel your character's icy shivers (good strong words, too!). I like the choice--get killed or go inside and be struck down. :) Nice work!

Missy Tippens said...

Helen, WAY TO GO!! On both the getting the contest entry sent out and on typing The End!! Woo hoo!

Missy Tippens said...

Oh, Pepper, I LOVE it!! Yes, you should definitely be writing western comedy! LOL

Missy Tippens said...

Jessica, nice job with the senses! I can feel the cold, smell the candles, hear the loud thud. You got it all in there! And since she has a dog in church, you've hinted that she's vision impaired. Which makes the sense you used that much more important. You let us experience as she would. Good work!

Missy Tippens said...

Andrea, I'm so glad you got some new words written on your manuscript! Nice work! You did a great job describing a simple setting that he feels comfortable in. Wooden cross, white walls, worn aisle. Very good! Thanks for taking part.

Missy Tippens said...

I'll check back tomorrow for new entries and Tina will announce the winner in the weekend edition!

Ausjenny said...

Missy was going from experience. I actually did this in Hawaii thought it was a 10.30 service had a map to the church but they marked the wrong street so when I got the right street it was 10.30 and I was feeling conspicuous being about being late but lots of others were also going on and then found a seat read the newsletter to find the service was at 10.45am so I wasn't late after all.
While it was a wonderful service and I did talk to one or two other visitors I did find there wasn't the same friendliness when it was over. it was like walk out the door but no one shakes your hand or anything which was different.
But it was welcoming which was really nice.

Jennifer Fromke said...

Mara slid on the wet grass, grabbed the cold stone wall to catch herself. Inside Tintern Abbey, the sun shone pale and cool through the missing roof and the grassy carpet drew her into the nave. She padded with reverence toward the spot where the presbytery should be. The ancient stone muffled sounds from the outside. Over the pounding of her heart, she heard only the laughter of birds flitting through the arches overhead. Michael faced away from her as he studied the ivy-covered structure soaring above him. The suffocating solitude created a panic inside and she turned to run.


Melanie Dickerson said...

Sorry I missed your post, Missy. But I was IN ATLANTA!!! I had a blast with the Buford women. :-) But I kept thinking, If only Missy were here ... ;-)

Missy Tippens said...

Nice job, Jennifer! Lots of nice word choices that make it very visual. I'm sorry I didn't get back here sooner. Thanks for adding your entry!

Missy Tippens said...

Melanie, I'm so bummed I couldn't come to your signing! But I'm glad it went well. Sounds like you had lots of fun. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Remember to check back on the Weekend Edition! I'll be posting the winner there. :)

Cindy W. said...

Sara Jane let her foot fondle the decaying step leading into Cornerstone Church. She was home. Could she take this last step and enter into a world she left behind so long ago? The butterflies were fluttering in her midsection causing an urge to bolt down the steps back to a life she had chosen for herself. A life of destruction and possibly death.

The music was beckoning her. As she took that last step, the church doors swung open catching her off guard.

"Sara Jane. Welcome home. We've been waiting for you." Pastor Williams reached out and caught her before she could fall.

Thank you for the great posting.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.


Missy Tippens said...

Nice job, Cindy W! Thanks for taking part.

Missy Tippens said...

Thank you all for taking part in the challenge! I couldn't pick just one so decided to enter all of you who wrote an entry in a random drawing. Nice work, everyone!