Wednesday, August 19, 2015

WEP Spectacular Settings

Densie Covey, Yolanda Renee

I  wasn't going to do this, but I'm always going on and on about how much I love description, so I caved. For me setting is very important when I read and when I write. If it's not done well, it might as well not be in the book.

The idea of this HOP is to post description you found spectacular, and then post something of your own. (optional BTW)


This comes from Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Her setting descriptions are amazing. Here's the one I've chosen for today.

******

The store has been here only for a year. But already many look at it and think it was always.

I can understand why. Turn the crooked corner of Esperanza where the Oakland busses hiss to a stop and you’ll see it. Perfect-fitted between the narrow barred door to Rosa’s Weekly Hotel, still blackened from a year-ago fire, and Lee Ying’s Sewing Machine and Vacuum Cleaner Repair, with the glass cracked between the R and the e. Grease-smudge window. Looped letters that say SPICE BAZAAR faded into a dried-mud brown. Inside, walls veined with cobwebs where hang discolored pictures of the gods, their sad shadow eyes. Metal bins with the shine long gone from them, heaped with atta and Basmati rice and masoor dal. Row upon row of videomovies, all the way back to the time of black-and white. Bolts of fabric dyed in age-old colors, New Year yellow, harvest green, bride’s luck red.

******

I loved this setting of Divakaruni's because it did so much more than paint the picture of the shop located on a city street with the bustle of ethnic diversity. It captured a sense of the character’s dialect, the smell of her shop and the taste of the spices—all central to the story. To me, that’s great writing.

Now for my humble Spectacular Setting. You're the first to read it--besides my wonderful critique group. This is from my latest WIP. Think about desert while you read it. Oh, and a motel just outside of a town called Rattlesnake. Sound like fun? Here's what my characters see, driving along a hot, sandy road.

It sat between two gas pumps and a gift shop. Twelve motel doors, six up and six down, were painted with Japanese cherry blossoms, a failed attempt to disguise three tacked together, stucco buildings. Someone must have seen that the blossoms weren’t going to do the trick so they painted the walls and the roof pink. And it wasn’t a sandy desert pink; it was hot pink. It was like finding a huge pink whale in the middle of a desert.
(FCA)

Anyone interested in joining this Hop? HERE'S where you sign up.

I'll be posting on my usual Monday, so hope to see you there.

49 comments:

  1. I love the glass crack Divakaruni includes and how it breaths life into that part of the setting.

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  2. Hi Lee - mistress of spices ... the shop certainly could have been there a long time - always having been in the mists of time ... it's the mix of trades, the blackened fire residue ... the metal bins full of traditional produce, while videos offer another income on the grubby shelf at the back.

    Your cherry blossoms fading as the desert sun strikes them ... the cheap building - with the Barbie pink of tackiness splurged across the building, which fails to give any pleasure to the outside or what's behind the facade ...

    Rattlesnake town .. the rooms might be ok ... cheers Hilary

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  3. I agree with you - great description (yours, too!). Interesting how she slips into second person briefly, but it works for this passage.

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  4. I enjoyed Divakaruni's description, but your description just outside of Rattlesnake town has me wondering all sorts of things. Description does draw me in.

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  5. I love your description and could clearly and vividly picture the hotel. I felt like I was driving by and I felt desert heat and I don't think you mentioned anything about heat. Contrasting the color pink added to it. I still have the image of the hotel in my mind and an eerie feeling like I don't want my car breaking down and me getting stuck in one of those scary twelve rooms, not even for a night. Setting description is the weakest part of my writing so I hope I learn by reading all the posts in the blog hop.

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  6. Divakaruni's setting is indeed spectacular, and your image of a huge pink whale in the desert is going to be stuck in my head all day! Thanks for sharing!

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  7. I love description. My crit group always wants me to tone it down. Then my editor wants me to amp it up. I listen to my editor. :) Love your setting. I can really see it, as if I'm standing there.

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  8. Love your descrip of the Cherry Blossom bait and switch decs!

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  9. Can't you just smell the spices in that Divakaruni's store? Vividly painted scene. 'Rattlesnake' - genius. Love your depiction of the cherry blossoms valiantly trying to bloom in the desert. Those pink buildings threaten to swallow one whole. Like Jonah.

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  10. I felt a little ill with all that pink going on. It would certainly catch the eye.
    Susan Says

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  11. Thanks Lee for coming out of your writer' cave and posting for WEP. I hope you enjoy the experience and the chance to share something of your new WIP. Love the shared setting from Divakeruni. It caught me with its particular style of prose--descriptive yet clipped. 'Inside, walls veined with cobwebs where hang discolored pictures of the gods, their sad shadow eyes.' How evocative! Such attention to detail.

    Your WIP descriptive setting is amazing. Just love that motel: 'It was like finding a huge pink whale in the middle of a desert.' What an image!

    So thanks Lee for posting for us! Now you get right back to that WIP, hear?

    Denise :-)

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  12. That is lovely. I can get lost in the setting, feel the heat. And the pink whale that seems out of place in the desert. Sure makes me curious about what goes on inside that motel.

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  13. It has been fun following along with this hop. I really enjoyed the description you shared from Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. You also painted an excellent description- especially with that hot pink. Thanks for sharing. :)
    ~Jess

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  14. What a great example! Setting is something I always struggle with, so I'm following this one closely.

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  15. Really love the description in your latest WIP! As a desert dweller, it was quite easy for me to visualize... :)

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  16. Great description and you've made me curious about this book.

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  17. Lee

    Your example of Spectacular Settings was superb. The Mistress of Spices established setting and even without the next sentence you knew this was a place of magic. The first sentence says a lot, "The store has been here only for a year. But already many look at it and think it was always." Then you get the actual description and age is written across everything inside. Isn't all magic old? Excellent!

    Love the hot pink, the cherry blossoms, but most of all the name of the town – Rattlesnake! How could you not want to stay in a hotel that resembled a hot pink whale in a town called Rattlesnake?! A setting that begs the reader to stay and explore, can't you just imagine what you'll find around the next corner?

    Thanks, Lee, for participating in the WEP Spectacular Settings Challenge, I know we've had a few blips with this one, just blame it on the new guy learning the ropes. We'll be better situated for the next one in October; I do hope you'll join us. After that amazing trip to Leap Castle, you have to share a spooky tale with us for the Childhood Frights vs. Adult Fears challenge! :)

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  18. "And it wasn’t a sandy desert pink; it was hot pink. It was like finding a huge pink whale in the middle of a desert." Fabulous!!!! And Rattlesnake. Terrific. I would read this. I would love to read this.

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  19. Excellent description! I can see it like it's right in front of me. :-D

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  20. I've got a vivid image of your hot pink 'whale' - a great paragraph which drew me in :-)

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  21. Hi,
    My book list continues to increase. Thanks for introducing me to Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. I've never heard of her and she's now on my TBR list.

    Now to your submission:
    Reading it , I thought of a song by the Eagles, Hotel California. I saw the motel sitting out somewhere in a desert, a motel for people who meet for a clandestine love affair.
    Your sentence describing the roof and the walls is perfect. "And it wasn't a shady desert pink; it was hot pink."
    The entire paragraph drew me in.
    Shalom,
    Patricia

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  22. That shop seems ages old rather than just a year. Great excerpt.
    Your hot pink motel in the desert conjures up a lot intrigue and foreboding. Rife with possibilities!

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  23. You certainly conjured up a vivid image of the motel in the desert, a haven or a hell hole I wonder.

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  24. it is easy for me to think about desert, for they rank up there with salt water marsh and mountains as my favorite places... now was is "it"

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  25. I've never heard of Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.
    Now I want to read her work. What an amazing description!

    A hot pink building in the middle of the desert? Rattlesnake? You have my FULL attention, Lee!
    Great snippet!

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  26. I definitely got "desert" with the description. I'll be candid in saying I actually imagined a little town I've been too called Mojave which is literally located in the middle of BFE.

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  27. I enjoyed both parts of this.
    The "someone must have seen the blossoms weren't going to do the trick" reminds me of something a few of my family members would do. Well, not the painting it bright pink, but still. Great share!

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  28. Two great examples. I swing from long descriptions to a summing it up in a few words, and I enjoy reading both too. But I do get bored of very long descriptions, especially if the author gives the same level of details for everything. Yawn. These two were just right - paint the picture, don't bored the reader. :)

    shahwharton.com

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  29. A huge pink whale. Now there's an image! Great stuff, Lee. I getting my post ready for Monday.

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  30. An amusing description, Lee. Well done.

    Fantastic excerpt you chose of stunning description!

    Have a great weekend!

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  31. Wonderful descriptions, Lee. Love the narrator's voice.

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  32. The pink whale settles it for me. Didn't see that coming. Nice description. This is a great challenge. I'm tempted to join.

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  33. What a wonderful and imaginative description. All the while there was one thought and behind door number... we have.

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  34. Lovely snippet from Mistress of Spices — I think I'll look for that book! I agree; there's deep skill in making a setting do double work, and when it happens it's beautiful. Thanks for sharing that.

    Loved your own bit! What an honor to be among the first to read it. Yes, it does the job: the motel comes across real and tangible, and I'm curious to find out who that someone is that chose hot pink for it :)

    Thanks for the visit over at Quiet Laughter , and for the lovely, lovely comment. Happy weekend!

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  35. Mistress of Spices and your work are both intriguing. Very different, and both set my mind wandering. Thank you.

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  36. I like the description that helps us smell the spices and see the age in the buildings. And I like the pink motel with the bad paint job - a vivid image painted in those words. Thanks for sharing your entry!

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  37. I like both these passages, but yours makes me want to read more. Where is this Rattlesnake town and why don't the people there realize that their pink motel isn't pretty? Maybe that's just part of the charm, though not sure how a pink "beached" whale could be charming.- it would have to be beached in my mind. In any case, I want to read more.
    Thanks for sharing this fun piece.

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  38. Wow, you're right! Divakaruni does write amazing descriptions!

    And lol, "a huge pink whale in the middle of the desert," that's great! Your description shows a lot of your character's voice too. It's intriguing because it makes me interested in both the place and the character. :D


    Alexa
    thessalexa.blogspot.com
    verbositybookreviews.wordpress.com

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  39. LOL I love tacky places like the one you describe. My sister and I once discussed taking a road trip (once we retire) to search out and photograph places like that.
    One motel that we always passed on the way to the beach was just torn down, and I regret never having stopped to take a picture.
    Great setting! I want to know what the insides of the rooms are like. ;)

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  40. That was a great selection--it paints a fascinating scene that activates all the senses. And I like the pink whale in the middle of the desert.

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  41. I can almost picture myself in that old neighborhood staring at a faded bride's luck-red fabric.

    And I'm intrigued by this pink whale of a hotel that someone misguidedly try to pretty up with cherry blossoms.

    I love a setting that makes me want to explore, to find out about the history of the place and the characters that inhabit it. I'd say both your pieces to that job quite well!

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  42. Your locale is a little unusual and a little memorable. It's been commented that others would "check in" to Rattlesnake, and I would myself (if the rates weren't too steep)! Nice to see a tidy descript in your blog, and great video (above)!

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  43. Fabulous eccentric character captured in this setting! Hot pink is all the rage:)

    The Weight of Wonder

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  44. Here from the WEP, my apologies for being late. A fan of Chitra Divakaruni here, so...delighted to read that excerpt from Mistress of Spices.

    Your flash painted a detailed picture for me. The image of a hot pink whale in the desert - brilliant.

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