I have to admit writing a descriptive piece about an unreal location [Link] was fun. I think this is why I like writing. To explore and fantasize about things without having to commit to them. And I think that is why novel writing is such consuming labor to me.
So I decided to do another descriptive writing exercise to describe an unfamiliar, unreal, and speculative space or location. This time I went the horror path. I feel it turned into a very small fiction piece of its own.
I’m looking forward to writing more and learning how to describe places well.
Here is a passage describing an unfamiliar place:
It takes you a little while to realize that this is not your usual early winter garden. You will have to walk over the dried rotting leaves long enough, until the listless stone house fully disappears behind the dried bushes and branches, to get that unreal feeling.
A melancholic sense of isolation defines all winter scenery including this forgotten garden. The muffled sound of your steps on the organic decaying floor, the soft swish of the wind blowing in the branches, the sense of emptiness that clings into the air gives you a slight shiver.
As you keep going, an occasional bird will skip from a branch to another. All that informs you of the avian movement is an abrupt flap and flutter, and a violent swing in the branches. By the time you have turned your head around to find the source of the sound, it’s already out of sight. But the garden slowly grows quieter as you proceed. At this point, you have forgotten why you are out here in the first place. You breathe in the chill air that carries a hint of damp leaves. You do not care about the world outside. You want to see the birds, the other animals. You know they are hiding behind the branches. You can feel the nature looking.
You’ll come to notice that it is starting to feel more uniform. Each and every element feels like they are one with their surrounding. Your first thought is that perhaps this is some sort of nature’s mystical harmony everyone talks about with tragic nostalgia.
But a voice in the back of your head disagrees. It Warns you that something’s wrong. Another, very unfamiliar, voice protests that something’s right!
You pay them no heed and continue. You are still enjoying the feeling of the soft breeze on your cheeks. You like being out feeling lost, feeling like you’re somebody else.
But the scenery, dimly illuminated by the winter sun, will slowly grow into an unsightly shade of brown. You’ll soon find it too monotonous to enjoy. The trees, their branches, and the rotting leaves on the path are all painted in the same lifeless color. Perhaps it’s time to end the walk, the cautious, familiar, voice urges.
You pause, take a deep breath, and look around. You spot a bird. It’s sitting on a branch, a pigeon-sized bird in the exact same brown. The bird’s head is turned to the side and its eye is observant. It doesn’t move. You do not move. Its stillness raises the hair on the nape of your neck. You try to intimidate it with a sudden movement but that doesn’t work. It stays still, quiet, and observant.
You finally decide to turn around and go back. Everything, from the dead remnants of the foliage you crush mindlessly to the squirrel holes on the trees, is watching you. They are all watching you through that one eye. As you raise your foot to step away it opens its plastic wings and flies away. It flies towards the end of the path. It flies away and tugs at your senses. You feel the need to follow against your better judgment. It’s like the unfamiliar voice from earlier has taken over the steering wheel. You follow. The smell of the rotting leaves slowly diversifies. There are traces of rotten fruit, rotten eggs, rotten everything.
The trees start to look welded into the forest floor, fused like a molded toy. Everything has become one. The brown is a shade darker here with a slight glisten to it. The wary voice finds it sticky. It also weakens and vanishes with the breeze. Your nose bridge wrinkles as you get a waft of rotten fish smell.
You walk into an opening centered around a grand tree. Its branches reach high into the sky and are spread out over a large area. The grandeur is that of an ancient tree. Around it are deer, bears, wild cats, people who are gravitating to it. They form a circle but remain quiet and still. These halted pilgrims too are glistening in that color. Some of them have clearer forms, some have lost their edges. All changing, melting to merge with the tree.
The bird has landed on a branch, next to other small animals that are paying their own dues. They look like candles offerings in a place of worship, only none of them is praying.
The tree’s arms are open. It calls out to all like a patriarch, asserts its dominance, demands its due respect. You feel it. Futile is your resistance to the urge. Your body denies you. After a moment of struggle, you fall forward on the ground. Your hands have darkened. You can feel the desire of the cells in your body to disband. You’re tired and scared. You close your eyes. You try to close your eyes. Your eyes feel dry and begin to burn. They feel naked. They feel exposed.
So this time I wanted to do a Lovecraftian or Weird genre style passage. I think the genre tries to convey uneasiness and terror true descriptive means. It subverts the familiar objects and makes them haunting.
What I love about some works in this style of writing is the escalation from trivial and familiar to insane. Insanity, I suppose, is the central adjective that can define it.
What do you think about this descriptive writing practice piece? I still have a problem with it. I’m not great with putting tangible details to the place. The passage lacks the main character feeling a tickle and looking down to see a dot-sized white moth on their hand. Things that don’t matter much but make you feel and visualize more.
Please let me know your opinions and criticism. I am really looking forward to that.
Check my other passage describing an unfamiliar location.