Lady Sitwell’s Party. And an update.

March 11th, 2024Posted by Nancy

I’ve finished the first round of serious line editing on the Witch Novel and now I need to buckle down and make the more serious changes needed. And maybe think of a name for the damned thing.

In poking around my folder of miscellaneous writing advice, I came across some exercises I did from WONDERBOOK by Jeff Vandermeer. While some of the advice was daunting (because I find almost all advice about plot structures daunting), I loved the illustrations and did many of the exercises. Just for fun, here’s one of the first ones from the book. It’ll give you a flavour of the illustrations designed to spark your imagination.

“I’m not sure about the polka dots,” Frederick said. His arms were crossed, his hand over his mouth and his neat dark beard.

“Polka dots,” Paulina repeated obediently from her perch on his shoulder.

Athenee spread her fins wider, as if more polka dots would alter his judgement. Frederick stroked his beard and made a non-committal sound.  The giant fish’s mouth was agape, as if laughing. The fish’s body was flat but, strangely, its fins looked more like the wings of a bat, albeit with polka dots.

Ozymandias bobbed his head once or twice, swivelled it around, and hooted as if in approval.

“If they were a more discreet shade of yellow, perhaps?” Athenee suggested.

“I don’t believe it’s a matter of colour,” Frederick said after a moment’s consideration.  “I believe it’s a question of … practicality.”

“I have you to be practical for me.

“Fish for dinner?” Paulina asked.  She was, as are most parrots, a vegetarian only most of the time and therefore not adverse to a well-cooked bit of salmon.

“The problem is, my dear, that Lady Sitwell’s soiree is not a costume party.  I’m afraid you’ll feel out of place.  I think the blue dress would be much more appropriate.”

She sighed heavily. “Why won’t anyone we know have a costume party?  Why won’t you let me throw one?”

“Because I detest costume parties.  I did warn you about that.”

The belly of the fish parted and Athenee slithered out, letting the costume collapse onto the floor behind her.  Her fur was sweaty, streaked dark along her belly and sharp face.  She swivelled an ear at him and twitched her tail.  “I think it’s rather amusing.  And sooner later, someone will invite us to a costume party and I warn you, I will wear it.”

“I told you, I detest costume parties.”

“Nonsense.  I’ll put an apron on you and you can be a fishmonger.”

“The blue dress,” he said pointedly and she laughed then walked past him on the way to the stairs, already licking a paw to wash her face.

(copyright Nancy Baker)

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