Sunday, September 11, 2011

Are you up for a riddle?

I've been working on a little writing exercise the last couple of days that was inspired by watching my son eat his breakfast.

The idea is to hide a characters role and sociological situation in the details and leave it up to the reader to discover the truth.

I didn't want to make it too obvious but I discovered it was a fine line to walk. I asked my husband to read it and to tell me the significance of the character. But true to his less than intellectual minded nature he wasn't much help. So I'll make myself a little vulnerable and call upon you all to tell me what you think if you are willing.

Ina was watching Dale eat his breakfast. She enjoyed observing this simple honest moment and did it as often as she could. Today Ina just caught the tail end of it; his bowl was almost empty.
With all the other kids gone to school there was no one there to distract him from his cereal. With the focus of a chemical engineer, Dale hovered two inches over his bowl, working his spoon with impressive precision for a four year old. Ina couldn't imagine how he could be so unaware of the racket his red lips and tongue were making or how he could eat those… What was it now? Lucky Charms, is it she thought glancing at the box across the table. She caught herself pointlessly searching around on her chest for her readers. It still amazed her sometimes how those old habits still hung on, even after all this time.
The slurping and smacking finally ended when the last fleck of cereal was retrieved from the bowl with the team work of spoon and chubby finger and then pushed into a mouth opened wide enough for a shovel.
She gazed at him with adoring pride as he used his pajama sleeve to wipe his face, and then spilled some of the milk as he lifted the bowl for a drink.

“Aah!” Dale said slamming the empty bowl on the table “I’m all done, Mommy. I eat it all!” He looked eagerly into the front room where his mother was cleaning, ready to repeat himself if she failed to respond in the next nanosecond.
Ina looked at Claire with adoring pride too as she walked into the kitchen with a basket of laundry. Ina longed to hug her; even some small recognition of her presence from Claire would be nice right now.
Claire absentmindedly straightened the frame of her beloved grandmother’s photo while Dale hastily re-announced his accomplishment.

“Good boy! Now put your bowl in the sink.” Then Claire noticed the spilled milk and pressed her lips together overlooking Dale’s bright smile “Uh oh clean up your mess please.” She seemed more or less immune to her son’s dew drop eyes and adorable ways. And even though Ina’s old memories allowed her to relate she still couldn't quite understand how it was possible considering how obviously endearing the child is. Ina wished she could pull him on her lap and cuddle through a few story books. But instead she settled for one last look before she had to go again.

Thank you for reading. Now, answer these questions about the story:

*What do you think is Ina's relationship to Dale and Claire?

*What is Ina's condition?

*Did you find it was too obvious? Why? (it's okay you can hit me with it)

Any thoughts you have would be very helpful to me. Thank you very much for playing along.


  1. Good one!!! But you're asking me and I write about ghosts every day!
    I loved it!!!! It was subtle, I wasn't sure who Ina was until Clair came down the stairs. She's the grandma right? The one from the picture?
    Is this part of your WIP? It's really good.
    ~The Supernatural Chick~

  2. I loved it, Debbie! It wasn't obvious at first, but when Claire walked into the kitchen,without a reaction to Ina, then it became apparent. Perfect timing, I thought.

    Ina is Claire's grandmother? And Dale's
    great-grandmother? Am I right?

    It was Ina's spirit visiting her family. I liked the touch of the grandmother's frame by Claire, as though she sensed her presence. I could really feel the warmth and love from Grandma.
    Great writing!
    ~The Ethereal Chick~

    Great writing!

  3. Thank you so much Chicks!!!
    Your both right on.
    Ina is my Grandmother's name. I used her middle name, Claire, for the mother. Dale is my little Keaton's middle name.
    Sil, this is a little embarasing but I still don't know what WIP stands for. I'm terible with acronyms( and spelling :)
    Thank you for the support!

    ~The Mythical Chick~

  4. It took me a minute to figure out the relationships, so I'd say not too obvious. Why couldn't Dale's great grandma see the cereal box clearly? Reading about how grandma adored her grandaughter, and great grandson, really made me wish that she could be alive for a minute, and tell Claire to enjoy the little things...something we all need to do, but the one thing that most mothers struggle with on a regular basis. Fun to read!


  5. Work In Progress. Don't worry, acronyms are not my thing either.

  6. ...and I could totally see Keaton eating that cereal!

  7. oh, OK, no actually, Sil this is unrelated to my book. I just wanted to do a creative-boosting-writing exercise just for fun. it was nice to put my heart into something other than my WIP for a change; I highly recommend it to anyone.