Writing Practice: More Place Descriptions

You might remember some weeks ago when I made a post that had to deal with me writing place descriptions.  It was something I felt I needed to get better at.  I still do of course, writing is not a one and done type of deal.  It’s an ongoing process, forever evolving, forever changing.  No matter how far I go, I can always get better.  So with that in mind, I present another series of place descriptions.

But this time, I’m going about it differently.  Rather than it being about places that have been constructed for me (be they real life places or fictional), I want to try my hand at writing descriptions of places that come directly from my own imagination.  I don’t know how many people know this, but my dream someday is to write books or movie scripts.  I want to tell stories with meaning and power to them.  But I still have a long way to go.

There’s always a first step, and with that being said, I present to you my place descriptions.

Description 1

A silver, oblong object with a handle and an end shaped almost like a claw floats through the gloom.  A wrench.  It bounces off the hard metal wall, but makes no sound.  The wrench spins around, slowly moving along the metal corridor, passing in front of a sign that says “U.S.S. Icarus”.  On the opposite wall is a flickering screen.  Fits of static disrupt the screen, emblazoned red with alarm.  “Warning: decompression” it keeps saying, over and over again like a skipping record, alerting no one.  The wrench continues its flight, floating past the screen as it continues to flicker and twitch.  It flies along the wall until suddenly it gives way.  The pattern of the wall breaks off into jagged metal edges as the wrench flies off into the great unknown expanse of space.  The hull of the ship has been ripped apart, reminiscent of ripped paper.  It lies in large chunks of broken metal, endlessly drifting through the pale gloom of space.

Inside, the warning screen sputters and descends into endless static.  With a few spastic flickers, it blinks off, losing power forever.  There is no noise here, not now, not ever…

Description 2

Dust lines the floor, the walls, and the ceiling.  Cobwebs hang down from the chandelier in the foyer, which is canted at a slight angle.  No one has lived here for some time.  A large, grand staircase leads upwards and then splits off into two directions, heading into the upstairs gloom.  An old, unused lamp lies on top of a small table next to an old, rotary dial phone.   People who’ve visited the old mansion have said that on some nights, they swear they can hear the small phone ringing.  Several paintings hang on the wall, one of The Last Supper, but the others are of scenes of disembowelment and mutilation, each one more disgusting than the last.  They say the man who used to own the place had a knack for finding obscure paintings.  But he no longer lives here.  Nothing does, not even a cockroach infests these halls.  But it is not empty.

A room adjacent to the foyer contains a grand, black piano sitting in the middle of the room.  A large grandfather clock sits in the far corner, still ticking away the time.  A small, red couch and a glass coffee table sit near the piano.  Hardly any light reaches in here.  The blinds are drawn, and the entire house lies in shadow.  The only noise present is the tick tick tick of the grandfather clock.

And then, the white ivory keys of the piano begin to move on their own accord.  The house becomes alive with the sound of music, played by a phantom conductor.  The grandfather clock reads ten o’clock at night, just as it has every time before.  Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata fills the halls, played flawlessly and effortlessly.  The keys move up and down, pushed upon by unseen forces.  No one sits at this bench anymore.  No one has for almost a decade.

Then, as soon as it began, it ends.  The piano falls silent, the white ivory immovable once more.  The clock reads 10:05, same as always.

Description 3

The large, metal vessel glides through the dark waters like a knife through butter. It’s old, very old.  No one knows where it came from, or how it got to be here.  The more puzzling problem is the whereabouts of the crew.  As far as anyone can tell, no one is aboard that ship, alive or dead.

On the bridge an old-school wooden steering wheel sits unused.  It looks new and polished, almost as if the ship had just undergone maintenance.  An old light flickers, barely providing illumination to the room.  A couple of tables sit at the back of the bridge, cluttered with papers and charts.  The only thing of note on them is a medal, bronze in color.  Attached below the medal itself is a name that reads “CPT. G. W. Worley”.  The ship pitches as the waves crash into its hull.  The metal creaks and groans, hallmarks of a now ancient seafaring vessel.

Down below lies the ship’s cargo.  In a large, gigantic open room, row after row of containers carry strangely colored rocks.  The dull dark blue is contrasted by splotches of yellow that almost look like mold.  They rattle in their containers, shifting with the jostling of the vessel.  They were once used to build munitions, but for a war that has been over for nearly a century.  The rain patters down on the deck above, the only other sound present in this strange time capsule.

The halls are empty.  No one stirs.  But the vessel still moves on, engines still running, journeying towards a destination it failed to reach nearly a century ago.  The name on the hull reads “U.S.S. Cyclops”.

Closing Thoughts

So apparently my mind went straight to doom and gloom this week.  I figured it might be good to go with a theme for my places, and evidently I still have horror on the brain from last week’s post.  One of the perks of being an avid horror fan I suppose.

I really wanted to try to create atmosphere this week.  I held myself back from injecting too much detail into each place, a problem I noticed in my last exercise.  That’s one of my flaws I think as a writer, I tend to overcompensate, overloading things with more detail and information than is truly necessary.  But hey, that’s why I need to practice.

Like I said last week, one of the things that truly makes horror captivating for me is the atmosphere.  And one thing that video games are truly good at is building atmosphere.  You can feel like you’re in the place, because in essence you are controlling the person moving through it.  It’s an element unique to games that separates it from the likes of movies and books.

Each place I came up with definitely has their inspiration somewhere.  The first one was definitely a nod to a game called Dead Space, which takes place on-board a spaceship overrun with zombie-like creatures.  Sure mine doesn’t have the blood and gore that Dead Space did, but I figure people don’t really want to read about that kind of stuff.  I don’t really think people want to fire up their computers while eating their lunch only to start reading about blood, gore, and destruction.

The other two are more or less inspired by classic horror tropes.  The mansion is obviously a huge staple in horror (a little life advice: bad things always happen in Victorian-era mansions), and is definitely a classic setting for it.  The second one is a not-so-common but still well tread setting when it comes to a horror story.  It’s a setting I enjoy a lot actually.  The isolation and the atmosphere always intrigue me, and it actually reminds me of an old episode of X-Files where a lost ship suddenly reappears with no one on it.  Granted the ship in that episode had rusted almost completely, but it still inspired me in some way.

Here’s a little fun fact for everyone reading.  The U.S.S. Cyclops, the ship that I described in the third description, was actually a real ship.  The description of it is purely mine, but the ship existed in some form.  It sailed out to deliver Manganese Ore during World War 1, but disappeared without a trace in the area known as the Bermuda Triangle.  No one knows what happened to it.  No debris or trace of the vessel was ever found, although it is widely believed to have sunk with all hands on board.  My description of it would be if the more outlandish theories about it turned out to be true.

And yes, Captain G. W. Worley was the actual captain of the ship.  It’s a fascinating tale to think about, although I don’t believe anything more than it just sunk somewhere that we haven’t found yet, or maybe ever will.  Like I said at the outset of this blog in my first major post, I don’t believe in the paranormal or the supernatural.  I just find it intriguing to think about.

That’s all I have for you folks this week.  Travel to the abandoned factory just off of Route Five, and find the lone computer sitting in the middle of the factory floor to read next Wednesday’s post.  Until then, have a wonderful week everyone.




One thought on “Writing Practice: More Place Descriptions

  1. Very good! You are learning the old adage that sometimes “less is more” (or at least better?). You seem interested in ships also… lot’s of interesting shipwrecks on Superior!

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